Florida Bail and Bond Hearing Attorneys:
Here in Florida, when a person is arrested they are typically entitled to a bond. The type of bond and the amount, if applicable, are set in accordance with the local bond schedule. Some bonds can end up becoming higher or lower than what the schedule calls for. In some cases where there is a felony punishable by life and sufficient proof is available and the presumption of guilt is great, then the defendant may not be entitled to a bond. This scenario typically occurs in many capital gains cases.
When someone is arrested in Florida, they are entitled to appear in front of a judge within 24 hours of the arrest. Also known as the First Appearance or Initial Appearance, the Judge will review the information contained within the arrest affidavit and determine whether or not enough probable cause exists against a defendant. During the same First Appearance or Initial Appearance, the Judge will also take the opportunity to affirm, lower or raise the bond that was set upon the defendant at the time of booking.
Every defendant has the right to request a reasonable bond. Additionally, defendants have a right to request that his or her bond be lowered at the time of their First Appearance. Without question, a Tampa criminal lawyer who has experience in these types of situations can work on your behalf to help defendants get the bond reduction they are seeking.
In fact, if anyone is arrested here in Florida, the sooner you consult with an attorney, the better your outcome may be. For example, if you retain our services early enough, we can prepare what is called a "Motion to Set Bond" or a "Motion to Reduce Bond".
When a defendant acts quickly, they may have a better chance at having their bond request granted. This is often due to the fact that Judges and prosecutors are often reluctant to act on quick notice, partly due to the lack of available information so early in the proceedings. Additionally, we've found that many times they just aren't prepared to argue the bond. We put the rights of our clients first and foremost. State law permits bond hearings whether the prosecution is ready for one or not, and we are willing to proceed on behalf of any defendant as soon as they are.
Pretrial Detention is a situation where the State Attorney's Office has filed a motion for pretrial detention as long as they've followed the proper procedure and met their burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. This motion enables them to hold a person in jail with no bond. In other situations, a Judge may decide to hold someone without bond where the safety of the community or the integrity of the judicial system may be in jeopardy.
Pretrial release is generally used to impose additional conditions of a bond, as directed by the Court. Examples of pretrial release conditions could include:
- no contact provisions
- limited contact provisions
- electronic monitoring
- no alcohol consumption or use
- various other restrictions related to the alleged offense
Right to request a Bond Hearing:
At the time of a defendant's First Appearance, if no reasonable bond is set, the defendant has the right to request a Bond Hearing in order to try and get a bond set, or to try and have an existing bond lowered. During this time, your attorney can file a "Motion to Modify Conditions of Bond or Pretrial Release".
With a solid motion and defense in place, a Judge may decide to lower a bond amount as well as reduce conditions of the bond. Regardless of whether or not the Judge lowers the bond or reduces the amount of conditions, any bond amount and remaining conditions must be fully complied with, or a defendant may risk being returned to jail.
During the bond hearing, the Judge will determine if:
- The bond should be lowered, or
- If conditions of release should be modified.
Scheduling a Bond Hearing:
Whether or not you are attempting to schedule a bond hearing with or without counsel, it is imperative the bond hearing is scheduled before the correct judge. Many people may be surprised to learn that the judge scheduled in the First Appearance is often different than the judge who will be assigned to the entirety of the case. The rules and policies each judge uses for setting a bond hearing also differ quite frequently.
Sometimes it's easy. Simply calling the Judicial Assistant to schedule the hearing at the first available date is all it takes with some judges. But this isn't true with all judges in Florida.
Some judges require a motion be filed, with a copy sent to the State. From there, the State is afforded a certain number of days to respond. Additionally, the State may oppose the requested bond. If this happens, some judges will allow the matter to be set for a hearing. In other situations, a judge may make a decision without the benefit of a hearing. When these decisions occur, they are usually based on the written motion.
If the motion is denied or the terms and/or amount is not acceptable, a defendant's attorney has the ability to schedule a hearing for review and reconsideration.
When it comes to handling bond needs, an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney should be retained in order to protect your rights and work towards the most favorable outcome available.
Preparing for you bond hearing attorney:
In order to better represent the needs of a defendant, we recommend preparing the following information:
- The nature of the crimes
- The amount of evidence
- Defendant's ties to the community, including:
- local family members
- length of residence
- employment history
- financial resources
- mental condition
- Past and Present Criminal History, including:
- any criminal convictions
- past failures to appear
- previous flight from prosecution
- The source of funds to post bail
- Whether the defendant is a danger to the community or a victim exists
What happens after the bond is set?
Once the bond has been set, a defendant may post the full amount of the cash bond with a jail depository, however, most defendants will instead utilize the services of a Bail Bond company.
How cash bonds work:
When a defendant posts a cash bond, the full amount will be returned to the defendant as long as the conditions of bail and all court dates are met.
How a bail bond company works:
When a bail bond company is hired, they guarantee the bond to the court and will become responsible for the defendant's appearances in court. Here in Florida, bail bond companies are permitted to, and charge a 10% fee for this service. When a defendant skips or fails to appear in court, the bail bond company will attempt to apprehend the defendant. The defendant may also be required to pay 100% for the loss of the bond which resulted in their failure to appear in court. Federal cases usually have a bail premium greater than 10%, however, not all federal cases will allow the use of a bail bond company.
Why choose the Fernandez Law Group for your Bail or Bond Hearing?
The Tampa criminal defense attorneys at Fernandez Law Group are aggressive, dedicated, experienced and knowledgable in all types of bond hearings. Anyone can request our services on behalf of a defendant, including a family member or friend, or the defendant themselves. We will work hard to have your bond reasonably set, reduced, or modified. When a defendant has legal representation that early in the proceedings, more opportunities become available for them and we are deeply committed to protecting and preserving the rights of our clients as soon as trouble arises. And not only do we cover the Tampa / Hillsborough / Pinellas areas of Florida, we cover the entire state as well and are available to assist you any time.
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Content authored by Frank Fernandez