What is bond?
It refers to a sum of money required to get out of jail. When you are accused of a crime you are usually arrested (assuming it’s something serious). There are some instances where a notice to appear is given in lieu of arrest but that is usually reserved for offenses such as no-valid DL or misdemeanor marijuana charges. For purposes of this discussion we will discuss those cases where you actually get arrested.
Am I guaranteed bond?
When you get arrested, there is a presumption of pretrial releases for all cases. Unless the crime is a punishable-by-life offense and the evidence is “proof evident presumption great.” In other words, unless you have committed an offense such as murder or capital sexual battery, the presumption is that you will get it. The bond schedule (which is listed directly below) will guide the court in determining what bond is reasonable. Many offenses allow you to bond out immediately upon being arrested. When people know they are being arrested it is smart to call a bonding agency and immediately get bond taken care of so you can merely do a walk through at the jail (processing and then released).
Some other bondable offenses require that you see a first-appearance judge first before you are released. If you (a) can’t bond out, or (b) must see first appearance judge before bond is set or bond is posted, then you will be held overnight in jail. The following morning you will go before a first appearance judge who will read the arrest affidavit, make sure there is enough evidence to establish probable cause, and then give you a bond. The judge can add special conditions to your bond, such as “you will not contact the victim” or “you will not return to the property.”
There are non-monetary bail amounts as well. For example, judges can order that you are released ROR (traditionally reserved for minor offenses or where there is no probable cause found in the arrest affidavit). The judge can also order you released on PTR (pretrial release). PTR is basically a mock version of probation. You have to report to a PTR person on a monthly or weekly basis. Some people placed on PTR are required to do random drug analysis as well (reserved for drug cases or where drugs are suspected). Orlando no longer has an ankle monitoring device that is officially sanctioned by the State Body. However, in some instances, lawyers can convince a judge to consider an ankle-monitoring system tied to a private company as a condition of release. Since recent incidents several years ago, this is highly unusual and rarely given.
Orange County Bond Schedule
Lays out exactly how much each bond should be. It lays out how much subsequent monetary amounts should be. It also lists offenses which require an appearance in front of the first-appearance judge. The schedule is merely a rough guide to give judge’s a starting point and an idea of what is reasonable. Judges go up and down depending on what mitigation is offered by the Defense and what aggravation is offered by the State.
If the first-appearance judge does not grant bond, or his bonds are above your means, or the bond is too restrictive to your life (i.e. no contact with family)….then your lawyer can file a bond hearing. These hearings take several forms. Either the motion is asking for (a) modification of bond conditions; for example an already-bonded defendant needs to have contact with family; (b) motions to set bond; for example where the first appearance judge denied bond; or (c) motions to reduce bond; for example where the Defendant can’t afford the bond, commonly seen in high-bond cases like trafficking, where bail amounts can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Standards for Bond Hearings:
There are three basic criteria for a judge when setting a bond amount. That is, what amount of bond is required in order to: (a) ensure safety to the community, (b) assure defendant’s presence at future court dates, and (c) protect the integrity of the judicial system. The integrity-of-the-system argument is commonly used when a person bonds out of jail and then picks up a new charge. The rationale is used to revoke bond and hold the Defendant on a non-bondable status. Beyond those three criteria the Florida Statutes lay out various mitigators for a decrease in bond amount.
These mitigators are USED by your attorney to get your bond reduced, modified, or set. Those include, ties to the community, criminal history, nature of the charges, a lack of strong evidence, and virtually any relevant piece of information that would show a reason for the reduction of bond amount. The ability to introduce outside thoughts is limited only by the creativity of the lawyer you have hired. For example, the author of this article has introduced case law at a bond hearing, and successfully argued that the charges could not be sustained, therefore a bond reduction was required to reflect what the actual charges and bond should be for the case.
Getting Arrested for New charge after released?
If you are out on bond and you pick up a new criminal offense, there is a strong chance that the first appearance judge will revoke your bond on the case that you are already out on bond for. However, that is not mandatory, as some judges will find revocation unnecessary. Where judges feel it is unnecessary, they may simply increase the bond conditions on the previously bonded offense. Sometimes they do nothing and just let you remain out-on-bond as to that case. If your bond is revoked however, you will need to have your lawyer file the appropriate motions.
You are not entitled to a bond in the following types of cases:
- Anti-Murder: when you are on probation and you are anti murder, you are not entitled to bond. There is no legal argument that you can make to get a bond. It is legislatively mandated that you stay in jail until the case is resolved.
- PBL: Where you are charged with a PBL (punishable-by-life) and the evidence is incredibly strong “Proof Evident Presumption Great” then you are not entitled to bond. This category is less rigid than anti-murder however. Because judges can still give bond in these cases where the Defense provides sufficient mitigation and makes a compelling argument.
- No Condition of Release That Can Reasonably Protect Community: Sometimes judges will attempt to hold people in jail under the theory that no condition of release can protect the community. However, procedurally and legally these types of rulings are questionable at best and can be addressed at a formal hearing.
How Bond Agencies work?
A bond agency is essentially a loan company who charges a 10% interest rate. For example, your bond is $10,000. You pay the bonding agency 10%, which is $1,000. In turn they post your $10,000 bond and you are released from jail. Once you show up and your case is over they get their $10,000 back. You don’t get your $1,000 back. So in that example they made $1,000. If you decide you want to pay the entire bond yourself, you won’t lose any money, and all of the money you put into the case for bond should come back to you.