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South Carolina
Judicial Department
South Carolina Bench Book for Summary Court Judges - Traffic Section

Collection by Patrolman of Bail Money

1. Collection by Patrolman of Bail Money

S.C. Code Ann. § 56-25-40 provides that a patrolman of the South Carolina Highway Patrol may accept a deposit of money in lieu of taking the arrested person immediately before the proper magistrate or municipal court judge to enter into a formal recognizance. S.C. Code Ann. § 17-15-230 requires a patrolman to accept, in lieu of cash bail or bond, guaranteed arrest bond certificates, in an amount not to exceed $1,500.00, issued by an automobile club or association. However, these certificates are unacceptable when the offense is driving under the influence of intoxicating liquors or drugs. With the advent of the Non-Resident Violator’s Compact (NRVC), the need for the State Highway Patrol to collect bail money has been all but eliminated.  See Section “M” of the “Traffic” section for a detailed explanation of the NRVC. 

§ 14-1-214 authorizes the payment of fines, fees, assessments, court costs, and surcharges by credit card or debit card.  The statute also authorizes the imposition of a fee for processing payment by credit card.  Reference should be made to the statute for those individuals from whom payments from credit or debit cards may be refused.  If a deposit is made in a case triable in magistrate’s court or municipal court, it cannot exceed the maximum fine for the offense for which the defendant is to be tried.  (§ 22-5-530.)  On December 11, 2003, the Chief Justice issued an Order, Re: Deposits to Summary Court Judge in Lieu of Recognizance. (A copy of this Order may be found in the “Orders” section of the Benchbook.)  The Order provides that the ability to immediately release persons charged with a crime is limited by § 16-3-1525(H), which requires notification of the victim of the bond hearing and, if the notification is not given in a timely manner, requires the bond hearing to be delayed for a reasonable time to allow notice.  Because of the conflict between the two sections, counties and municipalities that have instituted proceedings pursuant to § 22-5-530 shall provide for individualized hearings in cases where the accused may pose a threat to the public. 

Subsequent to the enactment of S.C. Code Ann. § 56-25-40 relating to the collection by a patrolman of bail money, the General Assembly enacted S.C. Code Ann. § 56-5-6220 of the 1976 Code of Laws. This section relates to the entry of a guilty plea, forfeiture of bail posted, or entry of a plea of nolo contendere to have the same effect as conviction after trial. S.C. Code Ann § 56-5-6220 provides that in cases where bail is posted by the defendant with the patrolman, no forfeiture of such bail shall become effective until ten days following the date of arrest.

The Order of Chief Justice Jean Hoefer Toal dated February 8, 2002, requires magistrates and municipal judges to accept bond monies and the trial officer’s copies of Uniform Traffic Tickets within seventy-two (72) hours from the date of the alleged violations. At that time, the officer should be issued a receipt listing the amount of bond received with each copy of the traffic ticket. The bail money should then be deposited in the magistrate’s bank account for official funds pursuant to the Order of the Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court dated September 7, 2006.

In a few cases, the patrolman may determine after the deposit of the bail money with the summary court that the case should be nol prossed. In these situations, the magistrate should return to the patrolman, the trial officer’s copy and a check for the bond.

On the appointed day of the trial of the case where bail has been posted by the defendant with the officer, and subsequently deposited with the magistrate or municipal court, the case shall be disposed of as provided by law pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 56-5-6220. If the defendant is found not guilty, a check for the bond money is returned to the defendant. If the defendant enters a plea of guilty, forfeits the bail posted enters a plea of nolo contendere, the bail posted is paid over to the county treasurer pursuant to the law. The Order of the Chief Justice dated February 8, 2002, further requires that all uniform traffic tickets shall be certified, or "signed off", at the time of disposition of the case, but, if circumstances warrant, no later than within forty-eight (48) hours of disposition of the case. For detailed direction concerning the proper handling of traffic tickets, see "Signing Off Traffic Tickets" in the MEMORANDUM SECTION of this book.