Posting a bond seems simple enough. However, the difficulty becomes when the person seeking to the post the bond doesn’t have the 10% premium required by a bondsman or doesn’t have property that can be used as collateral to secure the release of their loved one. Usually, a person who was recently arrested will call a family member or friend to post their bond. But many bondsmen are unethical and take advantage of first time offenders caught up in the criminal justice system. Your best course of action is to contact an experienced Miami criminal defense attorney that can walk you through the process and ensure you or your loved one is released quickly and in the most economical fashion.
Sometimes, depending on the offense, the accused prior record and their ties to the community, posting a monetary bond is not necessary. An experienced lawyer knows which offenses, and under which circumstances, that they can secure a client’s release without posting a 10% premium or any money at all.
Generally speaking, a client does not have to use a bondsman at all. Bondmen charge a 10% premium to post a bond. So if a person is charged with a felony and the first appearance judge sets a $10,000.00 bond, the accused will have to pay a nonrefundable fee of $1,000.00 to a bondsman to be released from jail. If the client or their family have access to credit or enough money to post the bond entirely with the clerk, that is advisable to using a bondsman because the client will be refunded the entire amount of the bond posted once the case is closed and/or dismissed (minus court fees if applicable). Also, as mentioned above, there are alternative forms of release in which a client might not need to post a monetary bond at all. It’s best to consult with an experienced attorney so they can advise you on whether to use a bondsman or seek an alternative form of release.
In state court, eligibility for bond is determined based upon the bond schedule set by the Chief Judge of that Circuit. In Miami-Dade, the bond schedule is more liberal and affordable than the bond schedule in Broward. Palm Beach tends to be more in line with Miami-Dade than Broward. But that distinction is not always true for every offense. Generally speaking, non-violent offenses are always eligible for a bond. Even violent offenses are usually eligible for a bond provided it’s not a first degree felony punishable by life (PBL), including, but not limited to murder, armed robbery, sexual battery on a person under 12 or an incapacitated person, armed burglary, burglary with assault or battery. Misdemeanors are always eligible for a bond.
In federal court, a person is usually eligible for a bond unless they are charged under one of the following six circumstances:
- A crime of violence,
- A crime where the maximum punishment is life in prison or the death penalty,
- Where the accused has 2 or more prior convictions of certain enumerated offenses,
- Where the accused is a flight risk,
- Where there is evidence the accused will intimidate witnesses or obstruct justice,
- And when the Defendant is charged with a Title 21 drug offense.
The accused is entitled to a detention hearing in federal court, usually before a federal magistrate, where the government has the burden to prove that one of the previous six circumstances are applicable and the accused is not entitled to pre-trial release. The accused is entitled to representation at such a hearing and it is critical that an experienced criminal defense attorney represent the accused at this critical stage. Even one day in jail is too much and it’s important to be properly represented.
The state court equivalent of a detention hearing is a bond hearing or first appearance. The accused will go before a judge within 24 hours of arrest to determine their eligibility for bond. It is at that bond hearing that an experienced criminal defense attorney can argue for the Court to release the accused on a non-monetary form of a release such as pre-trial services, alternative custody release or house arrest. It’s also at the bond hearing where your lawyer can argue against a monetary bond on offenses that are not readily provable by the allegations contained in the arrest affidavit. This is often referred to as a probable cause hearing. Experience matters and you want a quality and experienced Miami criminal defense attorney at your side during a bond hearing.
If charged with a non-bondable offense on the state level, the attorney for the accused will file a motion for pre-trial release. The judge assigned to the case (division judge) will set a bond hearing, also called an Arthur hearing, where the prosecution will have the burden of proof to establish that there is proof evident and the presumption is great that the accused committed the crimes alleged in the charging document. If the request for bond is made before formal charges are made, then the hearing is called an adversarial preliminary hearing (APH) and the accused is entitled to fully confront all the witnesses and evidence against him before the division judge.
Contact our offices today to discuss your options.