What Does ‘Bail’ Mean?
The term bail is used to refer to money that a court holds in exchange for a criminal defendant’s release from jail. It’s essentially an insurance policy that the individual will return to court for all required appearances. Within 48 hours of being arrested and processed, the defendant will appear before a judge at what is appropriately named the First Appearance.
At the first appearance, which is usually either a bail hearing, the judge will advise the defendant of the charges against them, conduct a probable cause determination, and decide whether to release the defendant on bail and at what amount. If the defendant posts the requisite amount, the court will authorize their release from jail. As long as the defendant attends all required court dates, the bail money will be refunded. However, the court can withhold any unpaid court costs or fees.
Bail is available for most offenses but may not be granted for particularly serious crimes. If the judge believes the individual is a flight risk, or that their release from jail could jeopardize public safety, bail will likely be denied.
How is Bail Determined?
When setting bail, the court’s goal is to ensure the defendant’s return to court.
The judge will consider the following factors when making this determination:
- Age of the defendant;
- Whether the defendant poses a flight risk;
- Defendant’s criminal record;
- Defendant’s employment;
- Whether the defendant has a history of substance abuse;
- Defendant’s income level;
- Any history of the defendant failing to make court appearances in the past;
- The type of crime for which the defendant was charged;
- Defendant’s education level;
- Whether the defendant is considered dangerous;
- Defendant’s standing in the community.
Making a strong argument to have bail set at a fair and reasonable amount can be a challenging process. Many criminal defendants simply do not have the financial means to afford bail. As such, having experienced legal counsel by your side is critical. It’s in your best interest to seek representation from an attorney who can properly articulate your position and position you in the best possible light.
At the Law Office of Nayib Hassan, P.A, we fight effectively and persuasively for defendants and their right to receive reasonable bail amounts. Contact a Florida criminal defense attorney today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.
Bail Vs. Bail Bond
While some individuals can post bail themselves, for others, the bail amount can be outside of their means. For these defendants, one option is something called a bail bond. A bail bond works by having a third party post the entire amount of bail on the defendant’s behalf. Usually, this occurs in exchange for a fee paid by the defendant to the third party. Courts set bail high to compel defendants to return to court, or risk losing a substantial sum of money. As a result, bail amounts can be significant, and many defendants have no choice but to purchase a bail bond.
How Do Bail Bonds Work in Florida?
In Florida, a third party, usually a bondsman, will post bail on the defendant’s behalf. A bond is a contract between the defendant, the third party, and the court. The court agrees to release the defendant, the defendant agrees to pay the bondsman, and the bondsman agrees to ensure that the defendant appears at all required court dates. Once bail is posted, the defendant will be released. Bonds may be issued for a variety of criminal charges including:
- Disorderly conduct
- Drug possession
- Parole or probation violations
- Domestic violence
- Driving with a suspended license
- Resisting arrest
- Petty theft
Bonds can be posted 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in most counties in Florida. The amount of time to process the bond and release the defendant can vary greatly, and there are multiple types of federal and state bonds. An experienced FL bail bond lawyer can help to ensure an expeditious process.
What Does a Bondsman Do?
Generally speaking, a bondsman posts bail on behalf of a defendant for a 10 percent fee for state bonds (and a 15 percent fee for federal bonds), after which point the bondsman is responsible for making sure the defendant attends all required court appearances. If the defendant fails to make a scheduled court appearance, the bondsman typically has 60 days during which to locate and return the defendant to jail. If the bondsman is unable to apprehend the individual within the allotted timeframe, the bail amount held by the court will be forfeited. The percentage is determined depending on whether the trial is held at the state or federal level, but a bondsman can establish a payment plan for individuals who cannot pay the full amount upfront. If the defendant fails to pay the bondsman the full amount and the bondsman cannot return the defendant to jail, the bondsman can sue the defendant in civil court for payment in full.
Speak With a Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
If you have been charged with a crime and are facing bail, the skilled legal team at the Law Office of Nayib Hassan, P.A can help. Our team of experienced, highly skilled defense attorneys will investigate your case, determine if your rights were violated, gather relevant evidence, and advocate for you throughout the entire process. We have an impressive track record of getting clients’ charges reduced or dismissed entirely, and we will ensure that you fully understand your rights and options before moving forward with any legal strategy. Contact the Law Office of Nayib Hassan, P.A. today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.