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Bail in Florida: What do you need to know?

On Behalf of | May 9, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Navigating the bail process often goes hand-in-hand with being accused of criminal wrongdoing. This process generally determines whether an individual can remain free while awaiting trial.

Bail is a set amount of money that acts as insurance between the court and a defendant. It helps to ensure that the defendant at issue appears at all required court dates in exchange for their temporary release from jail. The amount of bail set can vary depending on the kinds of charges in question, the defendant’s prior criminal history, community ties, the evolving standards crafted by the Florida legislature and whether the defendant can reasonably be considered a flight risk.

How is bail determined?

In Florida, bail amounts are typically set according to a standardized bail schedule which features guidelines based on the alleged crime in question. However, judges can adjust bail amounts during a first appearance in court, usually within 24 hours of the defendant’s arrest. Factors influencing these adjustments include the severity of the offense, the defendant’s record and their overall character.

If the bail amount is more than the defendant can afford, a bail bond agent can be contacted. Bail bondsmen usually charge a non-refundable fee of 10% of the bail amount. In return, the bondsman assures the court that they will pay the total bail amount if the defendant doesn’t appear at their scheduled court dates.

Being released on bail is a circumstance that is usually subject to specific conditions, akin to those of probation. Common conditions may include travel restrictions, no-contact orders or regular check-ins with a bail agent. It’s crucial for defendants to adhere strictly to these conditions to avoid further legal consequences. Violating bail conditions can lead to arrest, and the court may set a higher bail or deny bail altogether. Additionally, the original bail amount posted can be forfeited.

Given how much is at stake in many bail-related scenarios, it is generally wise for those whose temporary freedom could be compromised as a result of criminal charges to seek legal guidance as proactively as possible.