Bail Bond Hearing
A bail bond hearing is defendants right to request a reasonable bail. At that time his/her bond be lowered at the time of the First Appearance. Some judges are reluctant to do so at a First Appearance, as the prosecutor from the State Attorney’s Office is often not prepared to argue a bond motion at that time, because of the lack of information they have available to them on such quick notice.Once a person is arrested they are typically entitled to a bond bond hearing or a initial apperance. Usually a bond is set in accordance with a local bond schedule, although bail bonds can be higher or lower than the amounts stated on the schedule. There are some cases, such as a capital case or when there is a felony punishable by life and the proof is evident and the presumption great, that a bond is not set and the defendant may not be entitled to a bond.
A defendant is entitled to appear in front of a judge within 24 hours of his or her arrest. This is called a First Appearance or Initial Appearance. The primary purpose of the First Appearance is for the Judge to determine whether there is enough information in the arrest affidavit as to establish probable cause against the defendant. It is at this time that the Judge will also affirm the bond set at the time of the defendant’s booking, or lower it or raise it.
In Florida, the legal term Pretrial Release is synonymous with the word bond. Typically a monetary amount for a bond is set by the Judge that must be posted before a person can be released from jail while waiting for trial. Oftentimes Pretrial Release includes additional pecial additional conditions of a bond that the Court orders. These could include areas such as no contact provisions, limited contact provisions, counseling or therapy, electronic monitoring, no use of alcohol, or a host of otherrestrictions which bear a reasonable relationship to the offense.
If a reasonable bond is not set at the time of First Appearance, a defendant has the right to request a Bail Bond Hearing so that a bond may be set or the existing bond lowered. There are also opportunities to have terms of an existing bond changed by having an attorney file a Motion to Modify Conditions of Bond or Pre Trial release. At the hearing, the Judge will determine whether your bond should be lowered or if reasonable conditions can be imposed to permit a defendant to be pretrial released. These are conditions that you must comply with in order for the judge to grant you release from jail.
At a Bail bond hearing a judge will determine whether the:
- Bond should be lowered, or
- Conditions of release should be modified.
Scheduling a bail bond hearing requires that the hearing must be scheduled before the correct judge. The Judge assigned for First Appearance is rarely the same Judge that will be assigned for the entirety of the case. In addition, different Judges have different rules and policies for setting a bail bond hearing. Some simply allow you to call their Judicial Assistant and schedule a hearing at the first available date. Others require you to file a motion, copy the State and then allow the State a certain number of days to respond.
When a Bail Bond Hearing is requested a the Judge will consider the following information, which we will need to be prepared and knowledgeable to address:
- The nature of the crimes
- The amount of evidence
- Community ties, including:
- Local Family Members
- Length of Residence
- Financial Resources
- Past and Present Criminal History, including:
- Any Criminal Convictions
- Past Failures to Appear, and
- Previous Flight from Prosecution
- Whether a Danger to the Community or victim exists, etc.
Once a bond is set, the defendant can post the full amount of the cash bond with the jail depository or instead, utilize the services of a Bail Bond Company. If a Bail Bonds company is used, then the company guarantees the bond to the court and becomes responsible for the defendant’s appearances in court. For this, the Bail Bond Company usually charges a 10% fee from the defendant. However, if the defendant skips or fails to appear in Court, the bail bond company will seek to capture the defendant and have the defendant pay 100% for the loss of the bond which resulted from the defendant’s nonappearance in Court.