How Does Bail Work?
If you have been arrested, an experienced criminal defense attorney can save you thousands of dollars on bail. In State court, bail or a bail bond is a cash amount paid by the defendant or other third party to guarantee their appearance at criminal court proceedings. The bail money is paid to the court in exchange for the release of the defendant from custody. The purpose of bail is to provide a financial incentive for the defendant to appear in court. In some cases involving non-violent crimes and an accused with no prior record, the judge will Release on their own Recognizance (ROR), which requires no monetary payment of bail.
If a monetary bail is set, payment can be made in two ways: (1) Payment of the full bail amount in cash, or (2) payment of a percentage of the bail (usually 10%) to a bail bondsman. If the full amount of bail is paid to the court, the money will be returned when the criminal case concludes, as long as the defendant does not abscond or violate the conditions of release. If a bail bondsman is used, the 10% fee is not returned. So, for example, if bail is set at $50,000, the defendant could pay the entire $50,000 to the court and receive all of that money back when the case concludes. Or the defendant could pay $5,000 to the bail bondsman, but the $5,000 would not be returned.
Once bail is posted, the defendant will remain out of jail until the case concludes, as long he or she does not get re-arrested or otherwise violate the conditions of release.
How Bail is Set
After someone is arrested and charged with a felony or misdemeanor in State court, they must appear in front of a judge within 24 hours. At the first appearance hearing, the judge will determine if there was probable cause for the arrest, look at the seriousness of the offense, review the defendant’s ties to the community, background and criminal record, and determine an appropriate bail, or an ROR. In the case of a capital offense or a felony punishable by life in prison, if the proof is evident and the presumption of guilt is great, the judge can set no bond, and the accused will await trial in jail, with no means of being released.
Judges can also set additional conditions of pretrial release, such as no contact with victims, a GPS monitor, drug and alcohol screening and any other conditions that are related to the criminal offense. If the defendant bonds out of jail, and then violates these bond conditions, bail is revoked and he or she is returned to jail.
For felony cases, the first appearance judge is not usually the judge who will preside over the case. Therefore, if the bond set at first appearance is too high, an experienced criminal defense attorney will file a Motion to Reduce Bond and request a bond hearing in front of the presiding felony judge, as soon as possible.
How Can an Attorney Help?
An experienced criminal defense attorney can quickly prepare for your first appearance hearing and argue any issues relating to probable cause, as well as provide the judge and prosecutor with important information about your ties to the community and good background. At Fallgatter Catlin & Varon, PA, we fight to get you an ROR or the lowest possible monetary bond, to save you money, and to ensure that you can be released from jail while your criminal case is pending. If the monetary bond set at first appearance is too high, we will file a Motion to Reduce Bond, and quickly request a hearing with the presiding judge, where we will request a lower bond. Additionally, we will waive your appearance for court hearings, so that you do not have to miss work, and we will appear at most hearings on your behalf.
If you or a loved one have been arrested or accused of a crime, it is imperative that you seek and retain an experienced criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville to fight for the lowest possible bond and defend your right to a fair trial. The attorney you choose can save you thousands of dollars on bail and can make the difference between whether you are released pending trial and whether you are found guilty or innocent. Curtis Fallgatter and Lisa Varon are highly experienced criminal defense attorneys, handling all types of serious offenses, including DUI, domestic violence, sex crimes, white-collar and drug crimes in all local, state and federal courts.