Under Florida law and the 8th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, you are entitled to a bond when you are arrested and accused of a crime.
Unless charged with a capital offense or an offense punishable by life imprisonment and the proof of guilt is evident or the presumption is great, every person charged with a crime or violation of municipal or county ordinance shall be entitled to pretrial release on reasonable conditions.
In other words, unless you are charged with a capital offense or an offense punishable by life in prison, you are entitled to a bond.
However, there are certain crimes in Florida that qualify as "non-bondable offenses." This is because these crimes are either capital felonies, or felonies punishable by life in prison.
What this means is that if you are arrested for a capital felony, life felony, or first-degree felony punishable by life, you will be held without bond by the first appearance/bond hearing judge unless no probable cause is found for the charge.
Some examples of non-bondable offenses include:
1) Armed Kidnapping
2) Armed Robbery
3) 1st or 2nd Degree Murder
5) Armed Sexual Battery
7) Armed Trafficking
8) Lewd or Lascivious Battery on a Child Under 12
If facing non-bondable charges then a criminal defense attorney must request that the court hold a specialized bond hearing known as a Arthur Hearing.
An Arthur Hearing requires the court to find "proof evident, presumption great" that the defendant committed the crime. A second prong requires the court to determine whether the accused is such a danger to the community that no pretrial release measures would be adequate.
Proof evident, presumption great is a very high burden of proof for the prosecution to satisfy. During an Arthur Hearing (which takes place before a judge), the prosecution must either present live witness testimony or sworn witness affidavits (hearsay is admissible) proving that the accused committed the crime for which he or she is charged.
If the court finds no proof evident and no presumption great, the accused will be released on their own recognizance (ROR).
If the court finds proof evident, presumption great, then the court must move to the second prong and determine whether the accused is a danger to the community.
Sometimes, even if the court finds proof evident, presumption great, they may not find that pretrial detention (keeping a defendant in jail) is in the best interest of justice. If the accused has no prior criminal record, the judge may permit them to be released to house arrest or some other less restrictive means of pretrial release.
If the accused has a drug problem, the defense attorney may be able to persuade the court to permit the accused to await trial in a rehabilitation facility. While a locked rehab facility is not the ideal setting, it is a heck of a lot better than sitting in the Dade County Jail or Broward County Jail.
Being charged with a non-bondable offense is very upsetting for not only the accused, but the entire family. People very often lose their jobs sitting in jail for several days or weeks while the Arthur Hearing is set.
But when you are charged with a non-bondable offense, you must also keep in mind that you are charged with a crime that carries a penalty of life in prison. Your freedom is the most important thing in the world. At least it is to me.
For all of my clients who are in custody, I visit them as often as possible. I have seen the conditions of the jails in Miami-Dade and Broward and would not wish such confinement upon anybody.
As a criminal lawyer, I always strive to get my clients out of jail as soon as possible.
But once you are out of jail, the battle of clearing you of the charges lies ahead.
The first step is securing the pretrial release of an accused. I am a former prosecutor who labored in the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office prior to entering criminal defense practice.
I believe that I bring an insider's perspective to every case I handle as a criminal defense attorney.
If you or a loved one have been charged with a non-bondable offense, call me today to discuss the matter privately and without a consultation fee.