Up until this week, Broward County has always permitted anybody charged with a bondable offense (with the exception of a domestic violence crime) to post a bond prior to appearing in bond court.
Under Florida law, suspects taken into custody for crimes will go before a bond court judge within 24 hours of arrest. In Broward County - as is the case in many Florida counties - bondable crimes, such as burglary of a dwelling - will have predetermined bond amounts so that suspects without any other holds (such as warrants or pending probation violations) can get out of jail.
This is done to speed up the release process and to reduce the length of bond court calendars.
However, due to a rash of residential burglaries in Broward County, the Chief Judge of the Broward County Circuit Court has instituted a new policy where all burglary suspects will now be held without a bond until they are seen by the bond court judge.
The Chief Judge's Order was issued this week.
This is because the State Attorney and local police chiefs in Broward County got together and decided that burglary suspects were getting out of jail too quickly. In Broward County, the standard bond for one count of burglary of an unoccupied dwelling was $3,500.
Police and prosecutors were upset that with as little as $350, a burglary suspect could bond out of jail and be back on the streets within hours of arrest.
However, what police and prosecutors do not understand is that the purpose of bond is not punishment nor to keep people in custody. The purpose of having a person accused of a crime post a bond is to guarantee that they will show up in court.
The Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure permit the bond judge to examine several factors when setting bond, such as the offender’s prior criminal history and whether they pose a danger to the community. However, with the new policy in place, everybody arrested for a dwelling burglary will go before the judge and have their bond amount set based on these factors, not just the predetermined amount.
You can expect that with so much scrutiny being applied to each residential burglary case in Broward County, bond amounts will certainly increase making it more difficult for people accused of burglary to get out of jail.
It will be beneficial to be represented by an attorney at your bond hearing.
Eric Matheny is a Broward burglary attorney representing clients who have been arrested in all Broward County cities. Contact Attorney Eric Matheny to discuss your burglary case in Broward County, Florida.