Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Reviews What You Should Know About Bonding Out of Jail:
When a person is arrested and taken to jail, they can get out on pretrial release after completing the booking process. Be aware, some cases such as domestic battery require the accused to appear before a judge and there be a short holding period before eligible for pretrial release. Every person arrested is entitled to see a judge within 24 hours. This appearance before a judge is normally referred to as first appearance. At first appearance, the primary purpose is for the judge to determine if probable cause exists for further detention, to ensure the accused knows the charges, to set a bond as to each offense charged, and to establish if the person will hire a lawyer or if they will need a court appointed attorney. If contacted immediately, a criminal attorney can attend the first appearance and be by you or your loved one’s side at this critical stage. The first 24 hours are extremely important in determining how a case is decided.
Note, there are some cases, such as a capital case or a case involving a felony punishable by life, that a bond is not set. In these instances, the defendant may not be entitled to a bond. However, the judge must find that the proof is evident and the presumption great that the accused committed the offense(s) charged in order to deny bond in these types of cases.
If probable cause is found and a bond is set, the accused may post bond and be released, subject to any holds. In order to post a bond, normally you will need the help of a bail bondsman. A bondsman typically accepts 10% of the total amount of the bail to get you out. If the judge finds no probable cause exists, the person would normally be released on his own recognizance, often referred to as ROR.
It is quite common that a bond is set, and the accused is unable to come up with the 10% to secure release. At the first appearance hearing, the judge is normally on “duty” and not the judge that will be presiding over the case moving forward. If it is a duty judge, they are unlikely to reduce the bond amount from what the bond schedule dictates. The bond schedule is typically determined locally and assigns certain dollar amounts to certain charges. However, the attorney may make an argument at this first appearance for a lower bond.
After the first appearance at the jail, the attorney handling your case may file a motion and set the case for a bond hearing before the judge that will be presiding over the case. This bond hearing can be quite different from first appearance. At this bond hearing the judge will review the motion pursuant to Rule 3.131 FL Rules of Criminal Procedure and Article 1, Section 14 of the Florida Constitution.
Specifically, Rule 3.131(b)(3) provides… “In determining whether to release a defendant on bail or other conditions, and what that bail or those conditions may be, the court may consider the nature and circumstances of the offense charged and the penalty provided by law; the weight of the evidence against the defendant; the defendant’s family ties, length of residence in the community, employment history, financial resources, need for substance abuse evaluation and/or treatment, and mental condition; the defendant’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 defendant’s release poses to the community; the source of funds used to post bail; whether the defendant is already on release pending resolution of another criminal proceeding or is on probation, parole, or other release pending completion of sentence; and any other facts the court considers relevant.”
This is an opportunity for an experienced criminal trial lawyer to make an argument and call witnesses in an attempt to get the bond lowered so that the accused can afford to secure their release. It is important to have a seasoned criminal defense attorney handling this crucial hearing. Fighting your case from out of custody is imperative to a favorable outcome. Further, it is critical to not expend all resources on merely getting out of jail. Getting the bond as low as possible will free up more resources to expend in defending you against the accusation(s) by the state.
Now that you are all ready to contact your local and trusted bondsman, you should still take a couple of other factors into account:
- If you have other charges or cases pending and you were out on pretrial release at the time this new offense is alleged to have been committed; it would be unwise to bond out. In this scenario, if you bond out on the new charges, the state will likely request that the judge revoke the bond in the case that was already pending. It is rare that a judge denies the state’s request/motion to revoke bond. If your bond gets revoked, you can be held on no bond until that case has been resolved and you will not be refunded the amount used to bond out on the new case. Meaning, you just wasted your money.
- If bonding out will exhaust all your resources, you need to pause and reflect. If all your money and resources are expended getting out of jail, you will be unable to hire an attorney to defend you against the allegations. Money spent on your defense is much more important in the long run than bonding out immediately. Remember, when you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney, he or she can file a motion to get the bond lowered.
Bonding out of jail and getting back to work and family is typically a person’s top priority. However, you should be strategic and thoughtful before acting in haste and doing yourself and your case any harm. It is critical that you or your loved one contact an attorney as soon as possible after an arrest. Having an experienced local attorney on your side is invaluable to ensuring that your freedom and your rights are protected.
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