(sometimes called bail) is an amount of money an accused person, or their
family, must pay in order to guarantee the accused person's appearance
in court. Since bonds are usually in the thousands of dollars, accused
people and their families hire bail bond agencies that will issue the
bond for a fee, known as a premium (typically 10% of the bond).
Bond amounts are set by the judge, although they are somewhat standard. For
, bond amounts can range from $500 for second-degree misdemeanors such as
and leaving the scene of an accident (LSA), all the way up to $1,000 or
First-time offenders charged with misdemeanors may not have to post monetary
bonds. If the police officer issues a
PTA (promise to appear)
, there is no bond. The actual PTA slip serves as your court notice. If
you fail to appear on the date you are given, the judge will issue a bench
warrant and you may be arrested.
Even if you are physically arrested, a judge may issue an ROR (release
on recognizance) or send you to pre-trial services where you will not
have to post a monetary bond.
Felonies are a bit different. When charged with a felony, you will be physically
arrested. Bond amounts can range from $5,000 all the way up to over a
million dollars. You can be ROR'd or sent to pre-trial services, however,
if you have significant ties to the community, no previous criminal record,
and your charge is a non-violent offense.
Remember, there are felonies that are non-bondable. These crimes include
burglary with an assault or battery,
with a firearm, armed
, and armed
with a firearm. Of course,
is a non-bondable offense as well.
Now, if your bond is high, how can you get it reduced?
Miami-Dade County criminal defense attorney
can always file a motion to reduce bond. This motion asks the court to
reconsider the relevant factors in determining whether somebody is a flight
risk or danger to the community. The main purpose of a bond is to ensure
the accused's appearance in court. So if the accused person has ties
to the community, the legislature's rationale is that that person
is less likely to flee the jurisdiction.
Ties to the community may include family members that live nearby, a home
that the accused owns, or a local job where the accused has worked for
a significant period of time.
Also, the court must assess whether the accused is a danger to the community.
Arguably, an accused person with a violent criminal past is a greater
danger to the community than somebody with no prior criminal history.
However, the judge will look to the alleged facts of the case. A retail
theft is a less severe crime than an attempted murder. The nature of the
charge will impact the judge's decision to lower the bond.
If enhanced under Florida's "career criminal" statutes, the
State has the right to ask the judge to increase the bond. This is because
under these statutes, an accused person faces greater prison time or even
mandatory prison time than a accused person without an enhancement. Enhancements,
which are announced in court at the time or arraignment, include Habitual
Habitual Violent Offender (HVO)
, Violent Career Criminal (GORT), 3-Time Violent Felony Offender, and Prison
Releasee Reoffender (PRRP).
The request to increase the bond for an enhanced defendant is almost always
made by the prosecutor at arraignment. The prosecutor argues that with
the enhancement (which was not announced at the initial bond hearing)
changes the terms of the bond, since the defendant now faces more prison
time than originally presumed. The State argues that this change in circumstances
makes them a greater flight risk. Some judges will grant these motions
and turn $5,000 bonds into $50,000 bonds. Other judges will not grant
these motions, but will ask the defense attorney to contact the bondsman.
If the bondsman agrees to stay on the bond, the judge will not grant the
motion to increase.
Motions to reduce bond are often filed in trafficking cases as well. This
is because trafficking cases have
mandatory minimum sentences
, which may provoke flight in an accused person scared of going to prison.
Trafficking offenses, such as trafficking in oxycodone (OxyContin), trafficking
in alprazolam (Xanax),
trafficking in marijuana
, trafficking in methamphetamine, and
trafficking in cocaine
all have high bonds with requirements that the person paying the bond
premium present proof to the court that the money is coming from a "clean"
source. In other words, this person must present an affidavit showing
that this money was not earned through drug trafficking.
Reducing a bond in a trafficking case is easier when it is the defendant's
first time in trouble. Showing that the accused has ties to the community,
is presently working or in school, and has a strong family support system
may give the court the persuasion it needs to reduce the bond. This reduction
can make the bond affordable.
are a good way to get the court to issue a bond for a non-bondable offense.
Click on the link above to learn more about Arthur Hearings.
I have a
criminal defense practice in Miami-Dade and Broward. I represent clients both in and out of custody.
I know how important it is for a client to be out of jail. Life doesn't
stop just because you get arrested. You have to work and take care of
your family. Staying in jail will almost always cause you to lose your
job. Additionally, being charged with a serious crime is mentally taxing
as it is. Now imagine having to endure the stress of the justice system
alone, behind bars.
today to discuss matters pertaining to bonds, or anything related to criminal law.