Being arrested is a traumatic experience in and of itself. On top of that, going to jail without knowing how to negotiate reasonable terms for your release can be extremely overwhelming. In the majority of cases, if you are arrested, you can post a bail bond to be released before your case is tried in court.
However, navigating these terms without legal counsel can be complicated. If you have been arrested in Orlando, you should consult with an experienced Orlando bail bond attorney who can help guide you through the bail bond process.
The purpose of bail is to allow an arrested person to retain their freedom until they are convicted or acquitted in court of the alleged charges. Legally, bail refers to the amount of money a person must pay and associated terms they must abide by to be released from jail prior to their trial. Under the U.S. Constitution, courts are legally required to set bail at a monetary amount the defendant can pay. However, they are not legally required to post bail. This means that if the crime in question was severe, the court may forego setting bail.
If the defendant abides by the terms of the bail agreement—which usually require attending scheduled court appearances—the court will refund the posted money. If the defendant breaks any of the bail terms, the court keeps the money and issues a warrant for the defendant’s arrest.
Sometimes, a defendant can post bail with the police before a bail hearing or arraignment. Many jails have “bail schedules,” which document the bail amounts for common crimes. Bail schedules will vary in accordance with the type of crime. In general, felony crimes have bail schedules that are 5 to 10 times the amount of misdemeanor bail schedules. In other cases, bail is set in a court hearing between 24 and 48 hours after an arrest.
Bail can be complicated by the fact that the amount of money will directly correlate with the charged crime, even though a conviction is lacking. For example, if you’re arrested for charges of intent to sell marijuana, you will have to pay a bail schedule for a felony offense. However, in court, most intent to sell marijuana charges are commonly reduced to a misdemeanor.
After an arrest, a bail hearing will be set. During a bail hearing, a judge will set a bail amount and the terms of the bail agreement. To determine bail, the judge will consider the bail schedule of the crime in question along with other factors, such as the defendant’s risk to the public. While bail schedules are used as a general guideline, the judge has the power to raise or lower the bail amount to match their perceived risk of the defendant. When you work with a bail bond lawyer, they display to the judge why you should receive a low bail amount.
Some of the factors judges consider when setting bond conditions include:
If the defendant committed a lesser crime and does not have a criminal history, it is more likely that the judge will set bail. Conversely, if the crime in question was severe, the judge may forego setting bail at all. Some of the potential outcomes from a bail hearing include:
The stakes at a bail bond hearing are high, which is why it’s best to have a bail bond lawyer on your side. A skilled bail bond lawyer can ensure your bail is set at a reasonable amount and that you receive favorable conditions in your bail agreement.
In some cases, the defendant or their family may not have enough liquid cash to pay the bail set by the court. When this happens, bail can usually be posted by a bail bond company in the form of a surety bond that is equivalent to the cash amount set by the court.
Bail bond companies are for-profit businesses—they charge a non-refundable fee, which is usually 10–20% of the set bail amount. When a bail bond company posts bail for a defendant, they must sign a contract that requires them to pay the bail in full, in case the defendant does not show up in court. Since bail bond companies take on a high level of risk in these transactions, they usually require the defendant or their family to provide some form of collateral.
As an example, let’s say Sarah is arrested and her bail is set at $50,000. Her family can’t pay in cash for the bail, so they seek out the help of a bail bond company. The bail bond company agrees to post bail in the form of a bail (surety) bond, for a non-refundable fee of 20% of the bail amount. In this example, that would be $10,000. The bail bond company then collects the remaining $40,000 of the bail they are liable for in the form of collateral (a car, expensive jewelry, etc.) from Sarah’s family.
The bail bond company then signs an agreement with the court stating that they will pay the bail in full should Sarah breach any of the conditions of the bail agreement. If Sarah breaks the terms of the bail agreement, the company will have to pay the court $40,000, so they will hold the collateral posted by Sarah’s family. Conversely, if Sarah follows the bail terms, the court will return the posted bail, and the bail bond company will keep the profit of $10,000.
In Florida, certain offenses render a defendant ineligible for bail, such as murder and domestic violence. However, if your crime is eligible for bail, you have the right to request a reasonable bail amount and work with a lawyer to ensure favorable bail conditions.
If you have been arrested, it is in your best interest to contact a skilled bail bond lawyer. Having the right legal counsel on your side is the best way to ensure you are released before your court hearing. At Fighter Law, our team of skilled attorneys sincerely care about our clients and are passionate about fighting for their rights. Our team is led by Attorney Thomas Feiter, who is Board-Certified in criminal trial law by the Florida Bar. We have the skills and expertise to successfully represent your case. We work diligently to ensure a favorable outcome for our clients. To schedule a consultation with one of our experienced lawyers, call today at 407-FIGHTER (344-4837) or fill out our online contact form.
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