Can They Get a Bond (Pretrial Release (Bond or Bail))?
As a general rule, every person accused of a crime is entitled to a reasonable bond under the Florida Constitution and the 8th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. That said, “reasonable” is not always reasonable and capital felonies and felonies punishable by life are considered “non-bondable offenses” (See Below). Further, those accused of violating probation are not entitled to bond and in some cases may not be released (See Below). When your freedom is at stake, even in the pretrial stage, make sure you know exactly what is expected of you and that you have an attorney to look after your interests.Bond Generally…
Bond in many charges is able to be determined at the time of arrest. The Court in most judicial circuits puts out a Bond Schedule which dictates a presumed reasonable monetary bond for many crimes. These are simple bonds where money is generally held as surety to ensure the defendant’s return to court. Other crimes require that a person be held until First Appearance so that a judge can set bond.
Regardless, during the period of pretrial release, the individual out on bond is subject to all standard conditions of release to include:
a) Refrain from criminal activity of any kind.
b) Refrain from any contact of any type with the victim, except through pretrial discovery pursuant to the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure.
c) Comply with all conditions of pretrial release.
Sometimes, usually after a person sees a judge at first appearance, a person can also be ordered to follow special conditions of pretrial release. These may include counseling, drug tests, electronic monitoring, house arrest and a whole plethora of conditions the Court may deem necessary to ensure return of the defendant to court and the protection of the community.
As with any pretrial release, failure to comply with general or special conditions can result in the Court revoking release for violating the conditions. In that case, your attorney can argue to get you released again, but the Court is in no way obliged following a violation. Generally, it is best to have an attorney to help minimize special conditions at First Appearance or to later address particularly risky ones through a motion. Ultimately, part of an attorney’s goals should be to minimize risk to you or the accused.
As noted above, “reasonable” is a subjective term. People facing more serious crimes or those with extensive histories are often given extraordinarily high bond amounts that amount to no-bond. Again, your attorney should be able to bring this to the attention of the Court and may be able to present alternatives which will suit your needs and address the concerns of the Court.
Finally, the Rules of Criminal Procedure have a built in release in cases where the State delays filing charges. The State has up to 33 days after arrest to file charges when keeping an accused person in custody. If the State hasn't filed formal charges by the 33rd day, the state has to show “good cause” to keep someone in custody for an additional week. An attorney can help look out for this opportunity for release in cases where it applies. Ultimately, your freedom matters and should be one of your attorney’s top priorities. At The Law Office of Sean Clayton, P.A., we take great care to use every means possible to ensure our client’s release and to help our clients maintain their freedom. Pretrial Release Programs
Some counties may offer a program where a person is released, often without paying bond, for simply agreeing to enter a program, usually substance abuse related. These programs can be a good thing, but be careful. Failure to stay in the program or too many mistakes while in the program may cause the Court to revoke pretrial release and hold you without bond until the case is resolved.Non-Bondable Offenses
Capital crimes and those punishable by life are sometimes referred to as “non-bondable offenses.” The term is misleading. They may get a bond, but first the Court has to hold something called an Arthur Hearing. During an Arthur Hearing, the court must make find the “proof evident and the presumption great,” that the accused committed the crime. The State is required to produce evidence to this effect and substantiate the charge to large extent.
Even if the court finds the proof evident and the presumption great, the Court must make a second finding as to whether the accused is a danger to the community. Many factors are weighed by the Court and your attorney should be able to highlight your strengths to the Judge. In addition, attorneys can often craft alternatives which give the Court the assurances they need, while giving the accused to freedom they deserve.Violations of Probation
Anyone accused of a Violation of Probation is not entitled to bond. However, that does not mean a Judge won’t give someone bond in the right circumstance. In other circumstances, a probationers may be labeled Violent Felony Offender of Special Concern under the Anti-Murder Act (yes, that’s actually what it’s called) and will not be allowed bond under any circumstance. Finally, under the Jessica Lunsford Act, others require “danger hearings” to get out. These are complicated legal issues. An experienced attorney should be able to give you a fair assessment of your particular circumstance and tell you whether bond is likely, or at least worth pursuing. Contact our office if you would like to set up a free consultation regarding your case.