What You Need to Know About Florida Bail Bonds
When a person gets arrested and placed in jail, one of the first things they (and often times friends and family) must immediately focus on, is how to get out of jail as quickly as possible. Generally, before a person can get out of jail, they must have a bond granted, usually by a judge, and pay some type of bail bond. That’s why it is important to understand exactly what a bail bond is.
A “bail” is the monetary amount set by a judge as a security measure to ensure the arrestee’s appearance at future court dates. Once this amount is set, and paid (in cash or through a bail bondsman), the arrestee may be released. “Bail” also refers to the actual cash payment paid by the arrestee or their designated bail bondman.
A “bail bond,” or “bond,” is the actual assurance provided by a bondsman that the bondsman will pay the entire amount of the arrestee’s bail should he or she fail to appear at a mandatory court hearing. Either money or property is required by a bail bond system for the assurance of appearance of the arrestee at required court dates.
Setting of Bail Bonds
In general, each criminal violation has a preset bail amount, set by forth by the court system in an administrative bail schedule, and based upon the severity of the crime that was committed. Although the amount assigned to each offense is predetermined, a judge does have the right to increase or decrease that predetermined amount based on the specific facts of each case. Additionally, in Florida, certain crimes which the legislature has deemed extraordinarily heinous or by nature present a danger to society, are designated as “non-bondable” offenses, meaning that no bail will be set and the arrestee will likely remain in jail while awaiting trial. Murder, certain sexual battery crimes, and armed burglary are examples of criminal offenses that are considered non-bondable in Florida. If you have been arrested on a non-bondable offense you will need an experienced criminal defense attorney to set a bond motion in your case to argue that you should be granted a bail, and permitted to return home while awaiting the resolution of your case.
Types of Bail Bonds
Although there are several varieties of bail bonds, the two most common types are a cash bond and a surety bond.
A cash bond is when the arrestee pays the full amount of the bail in cash. A cash bond is most effective when the judge has set a very low bail amount. For example, someone arrested on suspicion of DUI is likely to have a bail set at around $500.00. If that arrestee is able to pay that amount, it makes sense to pay the $500.00 in cash. Once the criminal case is resolved, the $500.00 will be applied to any applicable fees, and any remaining amount will be returned.
Surety Bonds – A surety bond is when the arrestee utilizes a bail bondsman who agrees to be responsible for the debts or obligations of the arrestee. Here, the bail bondsman pays the full amount of the bail. In return, the arrestee pays the bail bondsman a percentage of the assigned bail. In Florida, it is common for the bail bondsman to charge a fee of 10% of the total assigned bail. After the bail bondsman posts the bail, the arrestee is released from jail. At the conclusion of the case, the bail is returned to the bail bondsman assuming the arrestee appeared at all required court dates. The 10% paid by the arrestee to the bail bondsman is kept by the bail bondsman as their fee for doing business; this is why it makes sense to pay a cash bond if you are able to do so. A surety bond makes the most sense where the assigned bail is very high. For example, someone arrested for delivery of fentanyl (or a fentanyl derivative) could likely have a bond set at $25,000.00, or higher. In that case it makes sense to retain the services of a bondman, who would front the full amount to court upon the receipt of their 10% fee, or $2,500, from the arrestee.
Bail bondsmen are a necessary component to the criminal justice system, and are often quite helpful in assisting with a speedy release from jail. Bail bondsmen help attorneys by getting their clients out of jail irrespective of the financial status of the arrestee. Bail bondsmen and attorneys often work together to insure a client’s appearance at required court hearings, which is a mutual benefit to both parties. Additionally, should an arrestee wish to travel out of state or out of country while awaiting trial, a bail bondsman can help in assuring the court of the arrestee’s guaranteed return.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing criminal charges and are not sure how bail bonds work, contact the Orlando criminal attorneys at O’Mara Law Group today. We can help you understand the bail bond process, get you in contact with a reputable bondsman, and help represent you in your criminal case so that you get the best possible outcome.