If Only Life Were Like Monopoly
In real life there is no such thing as a get out of jail free card. Instead, one of the first things a person arrested for a crime wants to know is what is my bail? Many jurisdictions like St. Johns County, Duval County, Flagler County, and Putnam County have a bail schedule that sets the amount of bail for different types of crimes. Of course, a judge can always change that amount if they feel it should be higher or lower depending upon many factors such as the person’s criminal history and ties to the community.
If a person has little or no criminal record and the crime is not serious, the judge may even release the person without bail, otherwise known as ROR or Release on Own Recognizance. In this situation the judge believes that the person is not a continuing threat to the community and is likely to return to court when told to do so.
If the judge feels that there needs to be a financial incentive to ensure that a person returns to court, then they will set bail, or a bond as it is often called. A bond is a cash deposit made to allow a person to be released from jail pending the resolution of their case. If a person can afford to pay the entire bond amount themselves, they post that amount with the jail and are released. Upon the conclusion of their case the bond posted is returned to them.
If, on the other hand, a person cannot afford to pay the entire bond amount, then they can turn to a bondsman for help. A bondsman assists people arrested for crimes by posting their bond in exchange for a fee. While fees may vary, most bondsman typically require a non-refundable fee of ten percent of the bond amount. The bondsman will then post the entire bond and the person arrested will be released. Once the case is resolved the bond will be returned to the bondsman, who keeps the ten percent as their fee.
Consider the following examples:
Paul is arrested for misdemeanor Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and taken to the St. Johns County Jail. His bail is set at $2,000 by the judge. Paul has his wife bring $2,000 to the jail and he is released. When his case is over, the $2,000 is returned to Paul.
Mike is arrested for felony sale of cocaine and taken to the Duval County Jail. Mike has a prior drug case and also failed to appear in court one time in the past. His bail is set at $50,000 by the judge. Mike doesn’t have $50,000. Mike’s wife talks to a bondsman who agrees to post the $50,000 bond for a fee of 10%, or $5,000. Mike’s wife brings the bondsman $5,000, the bondsman posts the full bond with the jail, and Mike is released. When Mike’s case is over, the $50,000 is returned to the bondsman who keeps Mike’s $5,000 as his fee.
In a case where a person cannot even afford to pay the 10% to use a bondsman, an experienced criminal defense attorney can file a motion for bond reduction on their behalf. At the hearing on the motion, the attorney can argue that the bond needs to be reduced so that the person arrested can afford to hire a bondsman. The outcome of this motion can mean the difference between remaining in jail, or being out on bond where the person can work, spend time with their family, and better assist their attorney in preparing their defense. The importance of hiring a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer to file your bond motion cannot be overstated.
In some circumstances where the person arrested is charged with a very serious crime or for violating their probation, no bond will be set. The only options available to a person in this situation are to remain in jail until their case is concluded or hire an attorney to file a motion to set bond. We have had lots of success filing these motions in cases where the person has violated their misdemeanor probation and been arrested on a no bond warrant. By contacting the State Attorney we can usually negotiate a bond amount that is agreeable to the prosecutor and judge.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for a crime and you have questions about a bond or simply need an experienced former prosecutor to defend your rights, contact the Albaugh Law Firm today for a free consultation.