A bond for good behavior, also known as a good behavior warrant or a good behavior bond, requires the abuser to post a bond (through giving money or property to the court) that the abuser will lose to the court if s/he violates the judge's order or commits a crime against you.
What is a bond for good behavior?
In the state of Georgia, you can apply for a bond for good behavior in the criminal division of magistrate court if a crime has been committed or is immediately threatened. The judge may issue a bond for good behavior if s/he believes the safety, peace or property of another person in the county is in danger of being injured or disturbed. Unlike a protective order, a bond for good behavior can mean that both parties (you and the abuser) have to follow the terms of the bond that are set (such as no contact). In some counties, a police report is required.1
A bond for good behavior requires the abuser (defendant) to post bond by giving money or property to the court to hold. The abuser will lose this money or property if s/he violates the judge's order or commits a crime against you.2 The court may also find the abuser in contempt of court for violating an order.3
Bonds for good behavior can arise in domestic abuse situations or other situation (such as disputes between neighbors). They can be useful if you need some protection from the court for a short period of time. A bond for good behavior will last for a certain term (such as 6 months) but may be extended by the superior or state court for additional 60-day periods.4 If you have questions, you may want to talk to a lawyer. Go to our GA Finding a Lawyer page for legal referrals.
In what situations can a bond for good behavior be issued?
Here are some examples of where a bond for good behavior can be issued:
- where a crime has occurred, but the victim is reluctant to pursue criminal prosecution;
- where probable cause exists for cross-warrants against both parties;
- where probable cause exists for the crime of terroristic threats but there is no corroboration that would be required for a conviction;
- where stalking of a former domestic partner is combined with a history of past violence;
- where the seriousness of the criminal conduct does not yet warrant prosecution, but some action is needed to prevent escalation;1
- where there has been harassment or harassing phone calls; and
- where there has been physical or verbal contact of an insulting nature.2
Note: These are examples given by two counties in Georgia but other counties may issues bonds in different situations.
What protections can a bond for good behavior offer?
Depending on the county, a bond for good behavior may order remedies such as any of the following:
- no physical or verbal contact between parties;
- not to come within a certain distance (usually within 200 or 300 feet) of your home, job, school, or another place you often go;
- not to enter or remain in at your place of employment;
- not communicate with you by phone or electronically (i.e., texting, emails, Facebook, etc.);
- not intentionally follow you or stalk you;
- not cause a third party to do any of the things listed above;1
- not to violate any criminal laws or engage in any illegal or criminal activity;
- not to use alcohol or drugs;
- not to engage in any harassing behavior to you, directly or indirectly; and
- order for an evaluation and/or treatment for violent behavior, alcohol dependency, or drug dependency.2
How can I get a bond for good behavior?
Here's how you would go about getting a bond for good behavior:
Step 1. Go to the criminal division of the magistrate court in the county where the incident occurred. Tell the magistrate that you are interested in getting a bond for good behavior taken out on the abuser. Be sure to bring any evidence or police incident reports with you. The magistrate will give you a pre-warrant application form.
Step 2. Fill out the pre-warrant application form. The magistrate may charge you a small fee for this application (often between $30 and $40),1 but this fee can be waived in some situations. You will have to swear that everything you have written is true and sign the forms in front of the magistrate or another court official.
Step 3. The magistrate will take your application to the judge. The judge will review the application. The judge may want to ask you some questions.
Step 4. After reviewing your application, the judge will decide if there is enough evidence and information to have a hearing. If there is not enough evidence, you will have to come back and start over if another incident occurs. If there is enough evidence, the judge will set a hearing date and time. Note: If there is immediate danger to you or to your family, the judge may decide to issue an immediate absolute warrant and arrest the abuser immediately. However, it is much more likely that the judge will just set a hearing date and time.
Step 5. You must go to the hearing. At the hearing, the judge will listen to you and to the abuser, and will look at all the evidence. Then the judge will make a decision. There are three possible decisions:
- The judge may decide that the evidence is so strong, and the situation so dangerous, that the abuser needs to be arrested. In this case, the judge will issue a warrant for the abuser's arrest and take him/her immediately into custody.
- The judge may decide that there is enough evidence to issue a bond for good behavior. (See next steps below.)
- The judge may decide that there is not enough evidence to either issue a bond or to arrest the abuser. In this case, the judge will just let the abuser leave, with no legal action taken.
Step 6. If the judge decides to issue a bond for good behavior, then the abuser will be required to follow the orders set and written down by the judge for the duration of the bond.
Step 7. The abuser will have to pay a certain amount of money to the court or post bond in the form of property. The bond could be anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.
Step 8. The bond for good behavior will last for a certain term (such as 6 months),2 but can be renewed in 60-day increments.3 For the duration of the bond, the court will keep the money of the abuser. If the abuser violates the judge's orders or commits any crime against you, then the abuser will lose the money and can be arrested.
Step 9. To renew a bond for good behavior, you must go back to the criminal division of the magistrate court and apply for a renewal.
The magistrate in the criminal division of your county should be able to help you with more specific information if you are interested in filing for a bond for good behavior or you can ask a lawyer for legal advice. Go to our GA Finding a Lawyer page for legal referrals.