What to Expect at Your Bond Hearing
If you’ve been arrested in Florida, you may be wondering whether you will have to sit in jail while you await your criminal trial. Read this guide to learn more about your legal rights and options and find out what you can expect from your bond hearing.
Your Bond Will Be Set At Your First AppearanceFlorida law allows criminal defendants to pay bail or bond in order to avoid jail time while they await their criminal trial and sentence. Chapter 903 of the Florida Statutes outlines guidelines for granting bail and bond to criminal defendants. If you’ve been arrested in Florida, you will certainly need to explore all of your legal options.
Generally speaking, defendants who were arrested based on an arrest warrant might be dismayed to find that the bond for their crime has already been predetermined when the warrant was created. If the defendant was arrested on probable cause, a judge will set bond at their first appearance. After that initial appearance, you are entitled to file a motion for bond reduction, which can lower the cost of your bond, and have that motion be heard by the same judge that will handle the entirety of your case.
Unless the Prosecutor Proves Certain Factors, Bond Will Likely Be GrantedIn general, most criminal defendants will be granted bond and allowed a pre-trial release from jail unless the prosecuting attorney can show:
- That doing so would pose an unnecessary risk to the community;
- That the accused is a flight risk and may not appear for their trial;
- That doing so would put the integrity of the judicial process in jeopardy.
If there is ample proof attesting to any of the above allegations, substantial evidence implicating the defendant in the alleged crime, or if the defendant has been charged with a capital felony punishable by death, then bond will most certainly not be granted.
The Judge Will Consider Certain Factors When Making a Bond DeterminationOtherwise, a judge will consider a variety of factors to determine whether to allow a defendant out on bond. These factors include:
- The nature and circumstances of the offense and penalty
- The weight of the evidence against you
- Whether you have any local family ties
- How long you have lived in the community
- Your employment history
- Your financial resources
- Your mental state
- Past and present conduct
- The source of funds you will use to post bail
- Whether you are already on release pending another criminal matter or are on probation, parole or other release
Once these factors have been weighed, the judge will set your bond.
Bond Reduction May Be Possible By MotionImmediately following your hearing, your attorney can file a motion to reduce bond. The motion will state the reasons for which the defendant believes their bond should be reduced. Generally speaking, it can take several days to have your bond reduction hearing set. The judge who will preside over the remainder of your case is typically the judge who presides over your bond reduction hearing.
Bond Judgement ConditionsBear in mind that all bond judgements have conditions and if any of these are broken, you will be immediately taken to jail. For example, if you leave the state or commit another offense while out on bond, your bond will be revoked. Also note that bond conditions can be modified by motion. Once your motion is filed, the judge will review to determine if the bond can be lowered or if the conditions that must be complied with are reasonable to grant your release.