If you are arrested in the State of Florida, you may be released from being held in Jail during the pendency of your case on a bond. You may be asking yourself “What exactly is a bond?” A bond is a sum of money that is paid to the court as an assurance that you will appear at all court appearances. Should you not appear to court, you forfeit that money.
As the amount of money for a bond can traditionally be in the thousands of dollars, often bail bondsman are hired to put up the money on your behalf. You then pay the bondsman a non-refundable percentage of the bond and they put up the rest. They ensure that you appear in Court and will have you there by force if necessary.
Certain offenses, including violation of probation or community control, will result in a bond not being issued by the court. You will have to remain in jail pending resolution of your case. When this happens attorneys file motions for a bond to be set on behalf of their clients. These motions are set for bond hearings.
As with any official court appointment, before you appear for a bond hearing you’ve got to prepare. It’s a procedure, and there are rules and expectations to live up to.
Preparing for Your Hearing
During the period ahead of the hearing, it’s important to gather character references. Witnesses who can confirm you’re not a flight risk can add a lot to the strength of a case. If you do not have the ability to acquire the necessary documents or coordinate witnesses on your behalf, an attorney will assist in this matter. Friends and Family of the jailed person prove essential in this process.
And the process is relatively straightforward: gather as many records and documents to show you are involved in their community. The more you can provide, the better the potential benefit for your case.
It’s in the best interests of defendants to speak with their family and friends ahead of their hearing. In cases where they cannot do this, they should give their attorney the relevant contact information to get in touch with them on their behalf.
What To Expect
Legally, a bond hearing is the process whereby the Judge is able to view the facts of the case, hear testimony of character witnesses, review any evidence brought by the accused, and review the arguments of both the State Attorney and Defense Counsel. Based on the case brought before them, they will then determine whether a bond will be granted, and how much money will be required. The Judge may also release the accused to pretrial supervision or can in rare cases release the person on their own recognizance.
Important to note is that the accused cannot plead their case during this initial hearing. Their attorneys cannot, either. The attorney can argue any and all mitigating factors and bases for the accused’s release. They can include that the person has to work to provide for themselves and family, they are seeking treatment outside of jail, and a whole host of other factors.
Florida Statute § 903.046 lists the several factors that a Judge must consider when making a determination as to whether to issue a bond. The factors include, but are not limited to:
- A record or criminal history
- The nature of the crime
- The weight of the evidence against the accused.
- The physical and mental condition of the accused.
- Community involvement
- The family ties of the defendant
- The defendant’s financial income and employment status
- Outstanding warrants
- Whether a weapon was used in the alleged crime.
- Whether they are on probation.
- Previous failures to appear for court dates.
- Immigration issues.
- The source of funds to be used for the bond.
Bond hearings are, for the most part, short affairs. This is obviously worsened in cases where the case is more complicated, but for the most part this usually isn’t the case.
The Judge will conduct the hearing and may, by order of the court, set a bond amount. Where the defendant has the funds, they will sign in the bond section, as part of an agreement that they will appear in court again, and pay the money to the court. Where the accused does not have the money, a bail bondsman can be hired at that point to secure their release. If the accused is released, without bond, but to pre-trial services, they will have to comply with any and all conditions as ordered by the court.
Tips For A First Hearing:
- Listen to the advice of your attorney and allow them to do a great portion of the talking on your behalf.
- Be respectful at all times and to everyone involved and be especially respectful when addressing the Judge.
- Focus on your body language. Look the Judge in the eye when you’re speaking to him or her, and keep your arms at your sides.
Are you or someone you know being held without a bond and looking for representation in Volusia or Flagler County? Contact Koleilat and Miller right away and talk to us about your options. We have years of successful Criminal Defense strategies. Let us put them to work for you.