Bail / Bonds in Florida Criminal Cases – Setting or Reducing a Bond
In Florida, anyone arrested for a criminal offense is held in a county jail until they are released for some reason. That reason, most often, is a release on bail or bond.
What is a “Bail or Bond”?
The terms Bail and Bond are often used interchangeably. What they typically describe are the terms or conditions of release while the criminal case is pending. Bail is the amount of money the judge sets as a condition of release. This money works as the collateral to ensure you come back to court. Bond is what a “bondsman” posts, typically at a fee of 10% of the total bail amount, to get someone out of jail after a judge sets the bail.
What if I do not have money to pay a bail or to put up as collateral?
Bail can be monetary or a set of conditions (i.e., home detention, ankle monitors, etc.) or a combination of the two. In some cases, there is a possibility that the judge would set non-monetary conditions of release as “bail”. As mentioned earlier, these could be house arrest, reporting to a pre-trial release officer, etc.
Can I be held without bail?
In most cases, a court cannot deny bond to an arrestee. The Florida Supreme Court has said that a court must set a reasonable bond in criminal cases. However, there are exceptions to this reasonable bond rule. One such exception is if the crime is punishable by life in prison or the death penalty.
What is a “reasonable” bond?
This term is very deceiving. The Florida Supreme Court has said that a reasonable bond is determined by the circumstances of the case. The mere fact that you cannot afford a bail does not in and of itself make it unreasonable. The Supreme Court said that a bond is excessive if it is unaffordable under the circumstances of the case. The Court went on to say that any unreasonable bond is considered a denial of bail. You can assume that a bond for a felony aggravated battery with a deadly weapon would be higher than a bond for a misdemeanor simple battery. The circumstances of the aggravated battery warrant a higher bond because the alleged crime and potential penalty is more severe.
When can someone be held “no bond” or without bond?
A court can deny bond if a crime is punishable by life in prison or the death penalty. But even then, the prosecution has the heavy burden of proving their evidence is very strong before someone can be held in custody without bond while the case is pending. This burden, known as proof evident, presumption great, is a very high burden. The prosecution has to show that their case has enough proof and that proof leads to a presumption of guilt that is great, otherwise, the Judge must set a reasonable bond. In Florida, we call these types of hearings “Arthur” hearings.
What if proof is evident and presumption is great, can I still get a bond?
Even if the judge finds that proof of guilt is evident and the presumption of guilt is great, the judge still has the discretion to set a bond if he/she so desires.
How do I get bail set or lowered?
A defendant is entitled to argue for a bond, or in some instances, a lower or reduced bond. This does not happen automatically as the defendant must file a motion and have it heard by the judge. At that hearing, the judge will take all the factors into consideration, like ties to the community, danger to the community, risk of flight, as well as the defendant’s criminal history. Usually, a defendant only has one shot at asking a court to set or reduce a bond, so you want to make sure you give it your best shot the first time. If your evidence or witnesses are unavailable, it is always better to reset the hearing, rather than hope to convince a judge to set or reduce the bond without the proper evidence before him/her.
If you or a loved one is incarcerated right now, and he/she has no bond or a high bond that is not affordable, call us today for a free consultation. You will speak directly with us, and we can discuss how to get your loved one before the judge and argue for their release. More importantly, we may be able to get your loved one released without having to post a monetary bond at all! Don’t wait, call now to speak with us directly about how we can get your loved one before a judge for a bond motion and after that, aggressively defend their criminal case. Call us now at (954) 764-1080.