A bond is set in your loved one's case, and unfortunately, it is just too high. As the bond guarantor, it is your responsibility to pay a premium - or fee - to the surety, or bail bondsman. A standard bail bondsman's fee is 10% of the total bond amount.
So if the bond is set high - for instance, in a drug trafficking or violent felony case - the total bond amount could easily be in the high five or six figure range, meaning that you have to come out of pocket a significant amount in order to get your loved one out of jail.
So if a bond is set at $150,000, you will need $15,000 in cash or available on a credit card to get your loved one out of jail.
Seems unfair that somebody could sit in jail simply because their family doesn't have that kind of cash laying around.
Fortunately, there are ways around this problem.
The main purpose of a bond is to ensure that the accused person appears in court. Bond is not meant to punish or needlessly keep someone in jail. For the most serious offenses in Florida, accused people can and often do remain in jail without bonds due to the severity of their charges.
So for charges in which bond is a constitutional guarantee, the amount should not be so high as to keep a person in jail just because they don't come from a wealthy family.
As the saying goes, a high bond is tantamount to no bond at all.
Your criminal defense attorney can file a Motion to Reduce Bond. This is a request to the Court to reduce the bond set by the first appearance Judge to an amount that the defendant can actually pay.
So if the bond has been set at $150,000, and the accused cannot come up with the $15,000 necessary to pay a bail bondsman, but the accused has $7,500 available, the attorney should ask the Court to set the bond at $75,000. This satisfies the Court's concern of setting a bond that's high enough to guarantee the accused's appearance in Court without creating such a financial burden that the accused has to remain in custody.
Motions to Reduce Bond should be filed whenever a bond amount is simply too high to satisfy.
Eric Matheny is a criminal defense attorney serving Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach.