Florida Bond Hearings
Florida Bail and Bond Hearings
Just because someone has been arrested for a crime does not mean that they are guilty of that crime. Therefore, Florida law recognizes that in most cases an accused should not have to sit in jail before their case is decided.
What is bail?
Bail refers to the money that an accused can deposit with the jail in order to be released from custody. If an accused pays the bail and then does not appear in court as directed, the accused loses the money. If the accused shows up to all the court hearings when the case is over the jail will return the money, minus administrative costs, fines, and court fees.
What is a surety bond?
Not everyone can afford to pay his or her bail. Therefore, there are businesses called bail bondsman that will pay the bail amount on behalf of the accused. A surety bond is a promise by the bail bondsman to pay the court if the accused does not show up for court.
In exchange for this service, the bail bondsman will typically charge a non-refundable fee. If, for example, the accused’s total bail is $10,000, the accused or his family will typically pay the bondsman ten percent, or $1,000. The bondsmen will not return this money.
In addition, bondsmen may also require collateral. Collateral is something of value that the accused or his or her family offer the bail bondsman to assure the accused will appear in court. If the accused does not appear in court, the agent has the right to keep or sell the collateral.
What type of factors does a judge take into account when setting a bond amount?
- The nature and circumstances of the offense charged.
- The weight of the evidence against the accused.
- The accused’s family ties, length of residence in the community, employment history, financial resources, and mental condition.
- The accused’s past and present conduct, including any record of convictions, previous flight to avoid prosecution, or failure to appear at court proceedings.
- The nature and probability of danger that the accused’s release poses to the community.
- The source of funds used to post bail.
- Whether the accused is already on release pending resolution of another criminal proceeding or on probation, parole, or other release pending completion of a sentence.
- The street value of any drug or controlled substance connected to or involved in the criminal charge.
- The nature and probability of intimidation and danger to victims.
- Whether there is probable cause to believe that the accused committed a new crime while on pretrial release.
Can a judge reduce the amount of bail?
Yes. If a judge has set a high bail, the accused or his family can hire an attorney to argue that the bail is too high and that it should be reduced.
If you or a family member have been arrested and need an attorney to handle a bond hearing in Hillsborough, Pinellas, or Pasco Counties, contact Attorney David C. Hardy
Tampa Attorney David C. Hardy is a former prosecutor that now represents persons accused of crimes in bond hearings. He is Board Certified by the Florida Bar and the National Board of Trial Advocacy as an Expert in Criminal Trial Law. As a prosecutor and defense attorney, he has extensive experience handling bond hearings.