In Florida, an "Arthur Hearing" is a specialized court procedure whereby a criminal defense attorney requests that his or her client receive a bond.
Under normal circumstances, accused persons are granted monetary bonds, or conditions of pretrial release without monetary bonds (pretrial services or PTS), at their first appearance, which occurs within 24-48 hours of arrest.
For misdemeanors, bonds can range from $500 - $1,500. For felonies, bonds can range from $5,000 up to more than $100,000.
Sometimes, defendants can be released on recognizance (ROR) without having to post a bond. This can happen for both felonies and misdemeanors.
However, where the accused is charged with a non-bondable offense, they will need an attorney to set an Arthur Hearing with the court.
Non-bondable offenses are set by Florida law. Some examples of non-bondable offenses are: armed robbery with a firearm, burglary with an assault or battery, attempted murder with a firearm, murder, armed trafficking in oxycodone, armed trafficking in cocaine, armed kidnapping, armed sexual battery, and armed burglary, just to name a few.
Remember, the Rules of Criminal Procedure still apply. The State has up to 33 days after arrest to file charges while keeping an accused person in custody. If the State hasn't filed formal charges by the 33rd day but wishes to keep the accused in custody until the 40th day, the State must show good cause. Witnesses failing to appear for their pre-file conferences is not always considered good cause. It is possible for a good criminal defense attorney to get somebody released ROR while they are being held on a non-bondable offense.
However, if charges are filed and the accused is being held without a bond, the criminal defense attorney will call the judge's secretary and set an Arthur Hearing. At the Arthur Hearing, the State must prove the case to the judge by a standard known as "proof evident, presumption great." This is a very high standard. In fact, it is a higher standard than "proof beyond a reasonable doubt."
The State must bring in witnesses, or at least witness affidavits, alleging the facts of the case. If the judge finds the case to be strong, or that it meets the standard of "proof evident, presumption great," then he or she must address whether the accused is a danger to the community.
To assess whether an accused person is a danger to the community, the court must look at all the background factors. Does the accused work? Does he or she go to school? Does he or she have a criminal past? How old is the accused? Who does the accused live with? Does the accused have supportive family?
Those are just a few factors the court will assess in determining whether to give a person accused of a non-bondable crime a bond. It is possible for the judge to find that the facts of the case are strong, but still give a bond to the accused.
If the court gives the accused a bond, there may be conditions, such as an ankle monitor and a curfew, if the accused is a minor or relatively young.
A bond is very important to an accused person and his or her family. A bond ensures that somebody does not have to remain in jail while charges are pending. Most of my clients, and nearly all of my prospective clients, will ask me about their bond status.
If you have a friend or family member charged with a non-bondable offense, call me so that I can discuss their options. What's important to remember is that getting a bond is just a part of the case. Charges will still be pending once the accused is out on bond. For that reason, I do not take cases solely to handle the bond or Arthur Hearing aspect. When I am retained, I represent the client on their charges, up until trial if need be. However, I do handle all aspects of the client's bond as part of my representation. This includes representing my clients at Arthur Hearings.