||Emergency Bond Hearings|
Tampa Bond Reduction Attorney
The purpose of setting bail is to ensure the defendant comes to court for trial and any required pre-trial court dates. An experienced Emergency Bond Hearing Lawyer can often file a Motion to Reduce Bond to demonstrate to the court that the defendant's ties to the community and the circumstances of the charge make it unlikely that the defendant would flee the jurisdiction, thereby allowing the court to set a substantially lower bond or release the defendant on his signature or own recognizances (often called "ROR").
In many of these cases, the defendant's family actually saves money by hiring an attorney to file the motion to reduce bond which is often less expensive then posting unreasonably high bond. Even in those cases in which the defendant is being held without bond, an experienced attorney can often convince the court that although the court is allowed to hold the defendant without setting bond, under the facts of that particular case, the court should set a reasonable bond.
Bond Reduction Hearings
You may be seeking a Tampa criminal defense attorney to discuss a potential bond reduction for any of the following reasons:
- You know that a warrant has been issued for your arrest, but you do not know the amount of bond that you will have to post after you are arrested on the warrant;
- You Failed to Appear after receiving notice of your next court date, and the court issued a "no bond" warrant for your arrest;
- The court revoked your bond because you are accused of committing a new offense while free on bail awaiting trial on another charge;
- You have been arrested for a capital felony offense and are being held with no bond, or with an unreasonably high bond;
- You have no bond because you were arrested on a Violation of Probation (VOP) warrant;
- The court attached a "Nebbia Hold or Nebia Hearing" requirement to your bond, typically required for certain drug trafficking and white collar crimes.
Under any of these circumstances, an experienced Tampa criminal defense attorney experienced in arguing bail bond reduction hearings will be able to represent you at your first appearance hearing, or at a subsequent emergency bond hearing. Hiring an experienced attorney for the bond hearing early in your case to fight for your release is critical. Having your bail or bond reduced can save you and your family thousands of dollars and can speed up your release from custody.
Factors Considered by the Court To Lower Bond / Reduce Bond
In determining bond, the court will consider the following factors:
- the financial circumstances of the defendant
- the defendant's address and ties to the community
- the defendant's occupation and employment history
- the defendant's family and relatives that live in the community
- the extent and nature of any criminal history of the defendant
- the nature of the alleged offense.
Posting Bond after an Arrest for Criminal Charges in Florida
Once the bail amount has been set by the court, there are two methods of posting bail:
- Cash Bond - In order to post a cash bond, the entire amount of the bond must be posted in cash or a cashiers check with the sheriff's office in Hillsborough County. At the conclusion of the case, the entire amount of the cash bond (less any fines or court costs imposed by the court if the defendant enters a plea or is found guilty) is returned to the individual that posted the bond. If the person arrested fails to appear in court, then the entire bond will be forfeited.
- Surety Bond - In order to post bond, a surety or bail bonding company can post a written guarantee called a bail bond. In exchange for posting the bail bond, the bail bonding company typically charges a bond premium fee which is 10% of the bail bond's total amount. The bail bondsman may also require collateral that equals the bail bond's total amount. Therefore, if the bond is set at $25,000.00, an individual might enter into a contract with the bail bonding company to pay a fee of $2,500.00, plus post collateral for the entire $25,000.00.
First Appearance Court After an Arrest
Hiring an attorney before your first appearance is critical. At first appearance, the court will generally set the special conditions of your pretrial release. Bond is generally available for anyone charged with a crime. In certain cases, the court can deny bond to a person charged with any crime punishable by life in prison or the death penalty when proof of guilt is evident.
In most cases, other than domestic violence cases, the accused comes into the first appearance hearing with a bond that has already been set from a standard bond schedule. If the accused was arrested on an arrest warrant, then the judge who signed the warrant has usually already set a bond amount, although that amount can be reviewed at first appearance.
First Appearance Court before Judge Walter R. Heinrich in Hillsborough County, FL
The standard bond schedule or bond amount set on the warrant can be either raised or lowered at first appearance. The defendant is brought before the court for a First Appearance (or Advisory Hearing) within 24 hours of the arrest. In Hillsborough County, the first appearance bail bond hearings are held in Division "O" before the Honorable Walter R. Heinrich, Court Court Judge in Hillsborough County's First Appearance Division.
For Hillsborough County, the first appearance hearing is electronically recorded. Division "O" is also referred to a "Video Court" because the defendants are brought before the court via live video camera from the jail, while the Judge, Prosecutor and Defense Attorney appear in the courtroom.
A privately retained attorney can argue for a zero dollar bond, or an ROR bond that allows you to be released on your own recognizances just by signing a promise to return to court (also called a signature bond) instead of posting a bond to secure your appearance in court to answer the charges against you.
First Appearance Bonds in Domestic Violence Cases
Under Florida law, when a person is accused of any act of domestic violence, including domestic battery, domestic assault, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, violation of a protective order or restraining order, stalking or aggravated stalking, the defendant must be held in jail until the defendant is brought before the judge at first appearance.
In order words, the defendant is not entitled to bond out prior to the first appearance court date according to a standard bond schedule amount. At first appearance, the court will then set a bond amount and impose other conditions of released aimed at protecting the safety of the alleged victim, the alleged victim's children, and any other person that might be in danger after the defendant's arrest.
The court will usually impose special conditions of bond including a "no contact" provision which will prevent the accused from returning to his house, or seeing his children until further order of the court. If the alleged victim also appears in court to ask the court not to impose the "no contact" condition, the judge will usually agree and instead impose a no violent contact provision while the case is pending.
Likewise, if the alleged victim wishes to have contact after the initial first appearance hearing, an experienced attorney can put the case back before the judge on a motion to modify bond conditions to eliminate the no bond condition. Never violated the no contact provision because it can result in your arrest and being held with no bond until your case is resolved.
Emergency Bail Hearing After First Appearance
If you have been arrested of any criminal offense, you are entitled to an emergency bond hearing, which can usually be scheduled within two business days. Even if you are being held on a "no bond" warrant, that does not mean that you are not eligible for bond after an emergency bond hearing.
In Hillsborough County, after your arrest there is a period of time in which the State Attorney's Office decides whether to file charges against you or not. This stage of the case is cased the Pre-File Stage. The State Attorney's Office typically takes 21 days to make a filing decision. Pre-file bond hearing are held in Division "O" or video court.
At the Sammis Law Firm, we represent clients in emergency bond hearings, or bond reduction hearings in Tampa, Hillsborough County, Pinellas County, Polk County, Pasco County, and all of the surrounding areas throughout central Florida. Contact a Tampa criminal defense attorney today to discuss your bail bond issue by calling 813-250-0500.
Resources for Issues Related to Bond:
Constitutional Protections Against Excessive Bail and Other Pre-Trial Release Issues - GPO Access Article discusses the history of the Eighth Amendment, including a discussion about the evolution of the right to bail, challenges for excessive bail, and the pre-trial detention of juveniles.