Know Your Options When You Can’t Afford Bond
In most cases, when a person is arrested, they receive a bond for their alleged offense(s). Some counties have a set bond schedule that lists amounts for various criminal offenses, although a judge has the discretion to impose a bond/bail* higher or lower than the scheduled amount. In counties that do not have a set bond schedule, a person is typically held overnight until they appear before a judge at what’s known as the “first appearance.” During the first appearance proceeding, the judge determines what bond/bail amount they believe is appropriate.
How a Judge Determines Bond
The judge considers certain factors when determining the appropriate bond amount.
For instance, certain offenses require a monetary bond to be set, so the judge will consider if the pending offense is of a violent or non-violent nature. The judge will also want to know the following:
- Does the defendant have prior criminal convictions or arrests?
- Does the defendant have any prior failure to appear?
- Does the defendant live in the state of Florida or in the county where the offense occurred?
- Does the defendant work in the county or have family in the area?
- What are the defendant’s ties to the community?
Unfortunately, a set bond does not mean the defendant can afford to post it and be released from the county jail. So, what happens when the defendant is unable to pay the bond/bail? There are two possible solutions: a motion for a bond reduction or a petition to have the defendant released on their own recognizance (ROR).
Motions to Reduce Bond and RORs
Sometimes not all of the necessary information for an effective argument is available at the first appearance. When your lawyer files a motion to reduce bond, it allows for a special hearing with the judge assigned to the case. On this date, the defendant can present witness testimony. Their attorney also provides evidence and arguments to either lower the bond or have the defendant granted ROR.
During this hearing, it is essential to establish any ties to the community, including if the defendant has lived in the state or county and for what length of time. Providing evidence that the defendant has family in the area and is locally employed also supports the argument that the defendant is less likely to fail to appear on the next court-ordered date. The defendant’s attorney can request that the judge impose certain release conditions to protect the community at large and the alleged victim if there is one. These orders could include the avoidance of certain behaviors. For instance, in a DUI case, an attorney may suggest that the judge require the defendant to wear an alcohol monitor.
Another key component of evidence is the defendant’s financial means – not those of their family and friends. Being clear with the judge regarding the defendant’s financial health is necessary to support the defense’s position of what constitutes a reasonable bond/bail.
Meldon Law Is Here for You
Time and effort are essential in making a convincing argument for a bond reduction or ROR. If you have been arrested, it is important to know your options regarding bonds and the potential defenses you may have. At Meldon Law, we have the expertise and experience to assist you in every aspect of your case. Our attorneys know your rights and are dedicated to defending them – and defending you.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense, call us at 352-373-8000 or fill out our contact form for a prompt response to schedule your free consultation. We want to help you get started on the path to getting your life back today.
*Bail is the term used when a defendant pays to get out of jail on their own, while bond refers to bail money paid by a bail bond company.