Florida Criminal Defense: How is Bail Determined?

If you or a loved one has been arrested, it can be an extremely frightening experience. What often makes it worse, however, is just how confusing the entire process can be. One of the first things that takes place after an arrest is the bond hearing. This is where a judge will decide whether or not you are able to get out of jail by paying a set amount of money, known as a bail bond. Having a good understanding of what this means, and how it can affect you is very important.

What Is Bail?

Bail is a set amount of money that is paid to the court in order to get out of jail, with the understanding that you agree to return when it is time to go to court. A bail bond is like an insurance policy that ensures that the person who has been arrested will come to court to answer the charges and not flee and become a fugitive. If you follow the requirements set forth by the judge after paying the bail and you return for your hearings, your bail bond will be discharged. If you posted a cash bond, you will typically have the money returned to you (minus any unpaid court costs or other fees). If you used the services of a licensed bail bondsman, then the property which you pledged as collateral for the bond will be released.

How Much Will Bail Be? When Is Bail Set?

The great majority of crimes are bondable as a matter of right. That is, you are permitted to post bond immediately unless there are significant extenuating circumstances. All counties in Florida have standard bond schedules which vary from place to place. What that means is that when you are booked into the county jail, your initial bond amount will already be established based upon the standard bond schedule. For example, if you are charged with simple possession of marijuana, the standard bond amount may be as low as $500. However, the more serious the crime, the higher the bond amount.

The amount required to pay will depend on a number of factors including your ability to pay, the nature of the crime for which you were arrested, and whether or not you are considered to be a “flight risk.”

If you are unable to post bond for any reason, then you are entitled to have an initial appearance hearing before a judge within 24 hours of being arrested. This is the first appearance in court, and is intended to help ensure that those who are accused are given the opportunity to get out of jail as quickly as possible. In some rare cases bail may initially be denied, but that is typically only for crimes punishable by a maximum sentence of life imprisonment or capital crimes.

How Is Bail Posted?

Let’s assume the arrest is for a crime for which a bail bond can be posted, and the bond amount is $10,000. In that scenario, there are two options. The first option is to contact a bail bondsman. A bail bondsman is an insurance agent. They post the bail bond on

behalf of the person in custody for a fee which is typically 10% of the bail amount. Therefore, if the bond is $10,000, the bondsman’s fee will be $1000. This fee is not refundable. In addition, the bail bondsman will require collateral for the value of the bond. Collateral can take the form of anything of equal or greater value to the amount of the bond, such as cash, jewelry or real property like a house. When the case is over, the bail bond is discharged and any collateral given to the bail bondsman is released.

The second option is to post a cash bond. If you choose that option, then you can post the entire $10,000 bond with the court. In that scenario, when the case is over, if the defendant returns to court as required, the entire $10,000 will be returned to the person who deposited it.

Keep in mind that this is a very simple explanation of the bail bond process, and your criminal defense attorney can further explain all of the requirements that go along with posting bond and the pros and cons of using a bail bondsman or posting a cash bond.

While the bail process may seem confusing at first, it has to be followed to get out of jail. If you or a loved one have been arrested and need to learn more about this process, please contact us immediately at (305) 373-4400.

Written by Law Offices of Barry M. Wax

Law Offices of Barry M. Wax

For 34 years, I have provided both State- and Federal-Level representation for those facing charges ranging from wire fraud, mortgage fraud, and healthcare fraud to identity theft, drug trafficking, money laundering, murder, DUI, domestic violence and numerous other criminal charges. In every case, it is my commitment to one-on-one service and support that has separated the Law Offices of Barry M. Wax from other criminal defense firms. When it comes to your future, you need a strong defense and the ability to make the right choices and regain control of your life.