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Bail and Bail Bond - Bond Hearing
Once a person is arrested they are typically entitled to a bond. Usually a bond is set in accordance with a local bond schedule, although 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.
In Florida, 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. A defendant has a right to request a reasonable bond or that his/her bond be lowered at the time of the First Appearance. Many attorney's, for some reason, avoid seeking a bond at First Appearance. At the Law Firm of NeJame, LaFay, Jancha, Ahmed, Barker, Joshi and Moreno, P.A., we appear at many First Appearances seeking a bond or a bond reduction on behalf of our clients. If we are retained early enough, which is typically after the arrest but prior to the First Appearance the next day, we can prepare a Motion to Set Bond or a Motion to Reduce Bond, and the Court is supposed consider a bond at that point. 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. We maintain that our client's rights are paramount over a State Attorney's lack of preparedness and that since the law permits bond hearings at this time, we have every right to proceed.
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 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 your 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 bond hearing a judge will determine whether the:
- Bond should be lowered, or
- Conditions of release should be modified.
Scheduling a 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 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. If the State opposes the bond you request, some Judges will allow you to then set the matter for a hearing and others will then make a decision without the benefit of a hearing, but solely based on the written motion. If the motion is denied or ordered in an amount not acceptable, then a defendant’s attorney can call and schedule a hearing for review and reconsideration. It is for these reasons, among others, that an experienced, knowledgeable and appropriately aggressive criminal defense attorney be brought on to handle your bond needs.
When a Bond Hearing Attorney from our Firm requests a Judge to lower the bond, 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
- Employment History
- Financial Resources, and
- Mental Condition
- Past and Present Criminal History, including:
- Any Criminal Convictions
- Past Failures to Appear, and
- Previous Flight from Prosecution
- The Source of Funds to post Bail
- 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 cash bond is posted, the full amount will be returned to the defendant so long as all court dates are met by the defendant. If a Bail Bond 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. It is more for federal cases, however not all federal courtsallow the use of bail bond companies. 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.
Allow an experienced and knowledgeable Orlando Bond Hearing attorney from the Law Firm of NeJame, LaFay, Jancha, Ahmed, Barker, Joshi and Moreno, P.A. to assist you in your efforts to have your bond, or that of a family member or friend, set, reduced or modified. We provide our highest standard of legal representation for each and every client and are committed to protecting the legal rights and interests of our clients. We handle cases not only in Orlando, but throughout Central Florida as well as the entire State of Florida.
We are available to assist you 7 days a week. Feel free to call our main office in Orlando at (407) 245-1232 or email us directly at Defense@NeJameLaw.com so that a Bond Hearing Attorney in Orlando from our Law Firm may help you.