Everything You Need to Know about Right to Bail
If you were arrested in Florida, you have a right to bail in most cases. However, the details of that bail depend significantly on your circumstances and the charges you face.
If you or a loved one has been denied your right to bail in Florida, you should immediately contact a criminal defense lawyer who can help get you released while your case is pending.
What Is Bail?
Bail is an amount of money you (the defendant) may put up in exchange for release from jail while your case is pending. The court holds the money to ensure you return for your hearings and trial.
Bail vs. Bail Bonds
You may secure release from jail through a bail bond if you cannot afford to pay the entire bail amount. A bail bond is obtained from a local bail bondsman or company that fronts the money in return for a pre-determined percentage of the bail.
Bail bond amounts are set by considering many factors, including the likelihood of the defendant’s appearance in court, the severity of the offense, and criminal history.
While establishing bail is a right, a bail bond is not a right. Bail bondsmen do not have to extend this “credit” and often don’t when an individual is a known flight risk. They may also require one or more co-signers for a defendant.
Do You Always Have the Right to Bail in Florida?
Pursuant to Article I, Section 14 of the Florida Constitution, every defendant has a right to bail unless they are charged with a capital crime that may carry a life sentence or the death penalty. They also cannot be eligible for bail if they face a charge for violating probation. However, the judge may still consider allowing bail for a violation of probation case, but there will likely be greater restrictions imposed on the individual.
How Is Bail Determined?
The amount of bail is determined based on several factors, including:
- The severity of the crime
- Weight of evidence
- Past convictions
- Failure to appear in the past
- Family and ties to the community
- Length of local residence
- Employment history
- Danger to the community
- Public safety
- Flight risk
- Financial resources
- Mental condition
- Source of funds for bail or bail bond
There are certain conditions to expect with various charges as well. For example, if the offense involves a drug-related crime, the court may consider the value of the controlled substances involved.
What to Expect at a Bond Hearing in Florida
A bond hearing is necessary if you want to reduce your bond or modify the conditions of your release. First, you must file a Motion to Set Bond and file it with the county clerk. You must be able to identify the proper judge, which can be challenging if charges have not been formally filed. You will need to know whether you are facing misdemeanor, felony, or violation of probation charges. The clerk will schedule a hearing with the judge and prosecutor to be present.
At the hearing, your attorney will present evidence of the factors mentioned above in an attempt to get your bond lowered or conditions modified. The prosecutor may argue for higher bail or strict conditions. The judge will ultimately decide on the details of your bond and release.
How to Get Bail Reduced in Florida
Bail is not always required. The court may release a defendant without requiring them to post bail or bond. This may be called granting a recognizance bail or releasing you on “your own recognizance.” Sometimes this is also called a “personal recognizance bond.”
In these cases, the defendant is simply ordered to return to the court at a specific time, and the court relies on the defendant’s word that they will comply with the terms of the pretrial release. This is common for first-time offenders or nonviolent charges. However, an experienced criminal defense attorney can also help you get bail reduced in Florida or eliminated altogether.
Learn How Florida’s Right to Bail Law Can Benefit You
You and your loved one have a right to reasonable bail. This is bail guaranteed. However, there are a few exceptions. Further, if bail is too much, you may be able to get a bond amount set. An attorney can help you get your bond reduced or eliminated altogether.
Metcalf Falls, Criminal Defense Attorneys, P.A. are here to help clients who need to get out of jail and return to their families. Call our criminal defense law firm at 813-258-4800 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.