While some states have begun to move away from cash bail systems, Florida has not. As such, if you’ve been arrested in Florida, you may be required to post bail or a bail bond before you are released. Bail in Florida is the amount of money that a court holds in exchange for a criminal defendant’s release from jail. It’s an insurance policy that the individual will return to court for all required appearances.
Even if you’re not guilty of a crime, you may have to pay a bail bond to be released. The bail amount is determined based on the seriousness of the charge. Judges retain the discretion to reduce or increase preset bail amounts depending on the particular facts and circumstances of a case, including a defendant’s financial situation, current job, employment history, the defendant’s family, relatives, ties to the community, and the nature and extent of a defendant’s criminal record.
There are “non-bondable” offenses, meaning no bail is available, and defendants remain in custody until their cases are concluded. Certain sex crimes, murder, and armed burglary, for example, are non-bondable charges.
What happens when your bail is set and what are your options?
When a judge sets your bail amount, you may pay the bail amount in cash, hire a bondsman to pay the bail amount for a non-refundable fee that is, by law, ten percent of the bail figure, or ask your defense attorney to request a bond reduction hearing.
Paying in cash can make sense when your bail is low, because if you make all of your court appearances, the cash is returned to you at the end of the legal process (or applied to your fine if you are convicted and a fine is part of your sentence). In most cases, however, the judge will set a bail amount that a defendant will not be able to pay out-of-pocket.
You can hire a bail bondsman to pay the full amount of the bail in return for a fee amounting to ten percent of the bail figure. When your case has been resolved, the bail money is then returned to the bondsman, assuming that you appeared in court as required.
Can Your Bail Amount Be Reduced?
If your bail is set too high, your defense attorney can ask the court to reduce it or to release you on your own recognizance. Your attorney will need to show that your ties to the community and the details of the case make it unlikely that you would fail to appear as scheduled in court.
Getting released on bail
Under Florida law, a defendant who is released on bail (or through a recognizance bond or other arrangement) must:
- Not engage in any type of criminal activity.
- Refrain from communicating with the alleged victim, if the court enters a no-contact order.
- Comply with any additional terms of release ordered by the court.
- Fail to comply with such Court orders. This can result in the revocation of a defendant’s bond, which is not only expensive, but would also result in the defendant being placed back in jail.
If you find yourself facing a criminal charge in Florida that needs to be taken seriously, or if a loved one has been arrested or charged in Florida, it is imperative to have a professional and experienced attorney on your side. Attorney Russell Spatz has over four decades of experience.
To meet with Attorney Russell Spatz to discuss your criminal matter, please call the Spatz Law Firm, PL, at 305-442-0200.