Understanding Criminal Procedure and Bail in Florida
Bail in Florida is meant to act as an assurance that a suspect of a crime will not flee if released from custody. The Eighth Amendment prohibits bail that is excessive, but excessive is not the same as unaffordable. Typically, the bail amount is high (where it is often unaffordable), so the defendant is tied to the jurisdiction and will appear at trial if they want their bail money back.
At Rodriguez & Williamson, PLLC, our criminal defense lawyer in Tampa will negotiate the bail amount so that even if it is high, it can still be obtained. Having the ability to be out on bail during a pending criminal case can help relieve some of the stress and let you go about your daily life while we work on your behalf to get you the best outcome possible. Contact us at 813-320-7500 to schedule a Free and to find out how we can help your criminal case.
What is Post Bail?
Bail is a sum of money a defendant pays to be released from custody to remain in the community while their criminal matter is finalized. It is a form of pretrial release.
Post Bail acts as a deposit to ensure a defendant attends their court hearings. A defendant posts bail by paying the required amount to the court. The court holds this money until the court hearing.
If the defendant fails to attend a court date, they forfeit the money and may be sent back to jail. If a defendant complies with bail, the court returns their money at the conclusion of their case.
Bail Eligibility in Florida
No eligibility requirements exist as to whom may request bail. Any person who has been charged with a non-capital crime is entitled, in most situations, to bail. Capital crimes are those crimes punishable by death.
Most states that have a Post Bail system have their own laws that may impact eligibility. Most states want to prevent violent offenders from returning to the streets until they are determined not to be a threat to the public and are not a flight risk. So, state and local laws may be more restrictive when the alleged crime is a violent one. For everyone else accused of a crime, bail should be set and granted.
What is the Difference between Bail and a Bond?
‘Bail' and ‘bond' are often used interchangeably. Both allow a defendant to be released from custody while their charges are pending, but there is an important distinction between them.
As mentioned above, bail is the amount the judge sets so that you can be released from custody. You can pay this out of your own financial resources. If you don't have the cash, you can sell your car or other property to get the cash. You could also try to borrow the money from friends or family.
When you cannot come up with the cash on your own, you are still not out of luck. A bond acts as a guarantee, rather than a deposit. It's a promise made to the court by a third party, usually a bond company, to pay the bail amount on the defendant's behalf if they fail to attend court or breach another condition of their release. In return, the defendant pays the bond company a service fee, usually around 10 to 20% of the bail amount.
Determining the Bail Amount in Florida
Some jurisdictions have preset, non-negotiable bail schedules for common offenses. This allows defendants to post bail directly from custody, without the need for a court hearing.
Otherwise, bail is decided by a judge or court officer. A bail hearing usually – but not always – occurs within 48 hours of a defendant being charged.
When deciding bail, a judge will consider factors like:
- The seriousness and circumstances of the allegations
- The defendant's criminal history and risk of reoffending
- The defendant's flight risk, including their ties to the community
Although there are guidelines, a judge can set any amount of bail they see fit, as long as it is not objectively excessive.
Possible Outcomes of a Bail Hearing
Three possible outcomes of a bail hearing exist, and they are:
- The court releases the defendant without post bail (on their own recognizance).
- The court grants bail, setting the amount the defendant is required to pay and other possible conditions. The defendant must comply with these conditions or may be taken back into custody. If the defendant cannot post bail, they will remain in custody, but they can also ask family or friends to help them. Alternatively, they may be able to engage a bail bond company to post the bail on their behalf.
- The court denies bail and the defendant remains in custody until their court hearing. When bail is denied, it is almost always because the defendant is a flight risk and/or a danger to the public.
Types of Bail Bond in Florida
There are different ways you can post bail bond, and these briefly described here are the most common in states that have a bail system.
- Cash Bond. The cash bond is the most direct way to post bail. The defendant pays the full bail amount to the court in cash. Cash is most usually in the form of a check, but some courts will allow credit cards.
- Federal Bail Bond. Defendants accused of federal crimes (like kidnapping, hate crimes, and white-collar crimes) must pay a federal bail bond in order to be released. Federal bail bonds are typically accompanied by higher fees and require additional collateral.
- Immigration Bail Bond. Immigration bail bonds only apply in immigration cases. They work the same way surety bonds do, meaning a company promises to pay if the defendant fails to show up in court. The only real difference is that immigration bail bonds may carry higher bail amounts than surety bail bonds.
- Property Bond. A property bond involves property you or your family own. The defendant or family member puts up the property instead of cash to cover the bail. If the defendant fails to appear in court, the property is seized.
- Surety Bond. A surety bond refers to third-party bond companies that promise to pay the defendant's bail if they fail to appear in court.
The Role of a Criminal Defense Attorney in Tampa and Bail
When it comes to post bail, the stakes could not be higher. If you are denied bail, you will remain in custody until your matter is heard. Likewise, if you are granted but cannot post bail, you will remain in custody. An experienced defense attorney can help you thoroughly prepare for your bail hearing to give you the best chance of release. When bail is set too high, our defense lawyer at Rodriguez & Williamson, PLLC may be able to file a motion for reconsideration, arguing the bail amount is excessive and proving why that is.
Further, many criminal defense attorneys deal with bail bond agents on a regular basis. At Rodriguez & Williamson, PLLC, we will assist defendants in contacting trustworthy agents and will facilitate communications and transactions between the defendant and the agent. We understand how important it is to obtain release on bail if not on your own recognizance because it allows you to focus better on your defense.
Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Tampa Today
A criminal defense attorney in Florida can offer you advice based on your specific circumstances, gather the relevant information needed for a bail hearing, and help you make arrangements if you are unable to personally post bail. Contact Rodriguez & Williamson, PLLC today by filling out our online form or calling us at 813-320-7500 to schedule a Free.
In Florida, bail aims to assure that an individual suspected of committing a crime will not abscond if released from custody. The Eighth Amendment bars exorbitant bail, although "excessive" does not mean "unaffordable" in the same way that "unaffordable" does. Because the bail sum is typically large (to the point where it is frequently unattainable), the defendant must remain within the jurisdiction and appear in court if they want their bail money returned to them.
Our criminal defense attorney in Tampa at Rodriguez & Williamson, PLLC, will negotiate the bond amount to be secured even if the amount is significant, and our legal firm provides this service. While we are working on your behalf to ensure the most favorable outcome possible for your criminal case, remaining free on bail during the pendency of the case can assist in reducing some of the stress you are feeling and allow you to continue with your everyday activities. Contact us at 813-320-7500 to book a free consultation and learn more about how we may assist you with your criminal case.
What exactly is post bail?
A defendant who wishes to be released from detention and allowed to remain in the community while their legal matter is resolved may be required to post bail in the form of a monetary amount. It is a type of pretrial release that can be granted.
The defendant must post bail as a deposit to guarantee their presence at all of their court sessions. For a defendant to post bail, the requisite money must be paid to the court. The court is holding this money until the hearing in the case.
If the criminal does not appear in court when scheduled, they will lose the money and maybe go back to jail. When a case is over, the defendant's bail money is returned to them by the court if they have complied with the terms of their release.
Possibility of Posting Bail in Florida
No stipulations are placed on who is qualified to make a bail request. In most cases, bail can be granted to a suspect charged with a felony that does not involve using a deadly weapon. Crimes that are punishable by death are referred to as capital crimes.
Most states with a bail system have laws that may influence who is eligible for bail. The majority of states have a policy that prohibits violent offenders from returning to society until it can be established that they do not pose a risk to the general population and are not likely to flee. Therefore, it is possible for state and local regulations to become more stringent when the claimed offense is a violent one. Everyone else who has been charged with committing a crime should have bail determined and granted.
What is the Main Distinction Between a Post Bond and Bail?
The terms "bail" and "bond" are frequently used interchangeably. There is a significant difference between the two processes because, although they both enable a defendant to be freed from detention while their charges are pending, they operate similarly.
As was just stated, bail is the sum the judge orders to pay before you are allowed to be released from custody. You are able to pay for this out of your own personal resources. You can get the cash by selling your automobile or some other piece of property if you don't have it on hand. Consider asking family members or close friends for financial assistance in this matter.
If you need help with the money alone, options are still available. In place of a deposit, a bond serves the purpose of acting as a guarantee. It is a commitment made to the court by a third party, typically a bond business, that they would pay the bail sum on behalf of the defendant if they fail to appear in court or violate another condition of their release. In exchange for posting bail, the defendant is required to pay a service charge to the bail bond business, which is typically between 10 and 20 percent of the total bail amount.
How the Amount of Bail Is Determined in Florida
In some regions, the bail amounts for the most prevalent crimes are predetermined and cannot be changed. This enables defendants to post bail directly from custody, eliminating the requirement for a court hearing in between the two steps.
If such is not the case, a judge or a court officer will decide on a bond amount. After a defendant is charged with a crime, a bail hearing will often occur within the next 48 hours; however, this is not always the case.
A judge will take into consideration things like these while deciding post bail:
- Given the nature of the accusations and the surrounding circumstances
- The defendant's prior convictions and the likelihood of future criminal activity
- The defendant could flee the scene, taking into account their ties to the neighborhood.
A court has the authority to set any amount of bail they see appropriate, even though there are criteria to follow, provided that the sum is not objectively exorbitant.
Results That Could Come From a Bail Hearing
There are three possible outcomes of a post bail hearing, and they are as follows:
- The defendant is released from custody without having to post bail (on their recognizance).
- The court decides whether or not to release the defendant on bail and then specifies the amount of money the defendant must pay, along with any other restrictions that may apply. The defendant must comply with these terms or face the possibility of being put back into custody. If the defendant cannot post bail, they will remain in detention; however, they can seek family or friends for assistance if needed. They can also contact a bail bond business and have them post the bail on their behalf.
- The judge decides not to release the defendant on bond; thus, they must remain in detention until their next court appearance. If bail is rejected, it is often because the defendant risks fleeing the jurisdiction and/or endangering others in some way.
Different Categories of Bail Bonds in Florida
You can post bail in several different ways; however, the methods briefly discussed here are the most prevalent in states with a bail system.
Cash Guarantee. The quickest and easiest way to post bail is with a cash bond. The defendant pays the bail in cash to the judge at the hearing. The most common cash transfer method is through a check; however, some courts accept credit cards.
Bail Bond Issued by the Government of the United States Defendants accused of federal crimes, such as abduction, hate crimes, and white-collar crimes, are required to post a federal bail bond to be released from custody. When purchasing a federal bail bond, you should anticipate paying more significant fees and providing additional collateral.
Immigration Surety Bond, The use of immigration bail bonds is limited to cases involving immigration. They function in the same manner as surety bonds, which means that a corporation pledges to pay if the defendant does not appear in court when required. The only significant difference is that surety bail bonds are typically required to cover lower bail amounts than immigration bail bonds.
A Property Guaranty. A property bond involves property that either you or a family member owns. Instead of posting cash bail, the criminal or a family member puts up the property as collateral. The property may be taken into custody if the defendant does not attend court.
Bond of Surety. Surety bond firms are third-party bond companies that agree to pay the defendant's bail if they fail to appear in court as required by the terms of their bond.
The Importance of a Criminal Defense Attorney in Tampa and the Bonding Process
The stakes could not be any greater when it comes to bail. If you are not granted bail, you must remain in detention until the judge rules on your case. You will remain in custody even if bail is given, but you cannot post it. To offer you the best possible opportunity of being released from jail, an experienced defense attorney can assist you in thoroughly preparing for the bail hearing. If bail is set at an excessively high amount, a defense attorney from Rodriguez & Williamson, PLLC, may be able to file a request for reconsideration. In this move, the attorney would argue that the bail sum is excessive and provide evidence to support this claim.
In addition, many criminal defense attorneys routinely interact with bail bond agents. We at Rodriguez & Williamson, PLLC, will assist defendants in locating reliable agents and will serve as a liaison between the defendant and the agent in all matters about communication and business transactions. We are aware of how essential it is to secure your release, preferably on bond if not on your own recognizance, so that you can concentrate more fully on building your case in court.
Now is the time to contact a criminal defense attorney in Tampa.
Suppose you are unable to post bail in Florida personally. In that case, a criminal defense attorney may be able to provide you with advice tailored to your unique situation, compile the pertinent evidence required for a bail hearing, and assist you in making alternative bail arrangements if you are unable to do so yourself. To schedule a free consultation with Rodriguez & Williamson, PLLC, please get in touch with us as soon as possible by calling us at 813-320-7500 or completing the online contact form on our website.
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