Difficult questions never have simple answers. Like all complex questions, the immediate answer is…it depends.
Getting Bond Posted
Is the arrestee still in jail? If so, it might be necessary to contact a bail bondsman. If the bond is low then the bail can be posted in full. It will be returned in full at the conclusion of the case, assuming the arrestee made all of their court appearances. If bond is too large to make in full, then a bail bondsman will require payment, typically equal to 10% of the total bond. That is the bondsman’s fee, and it will not be returned to you. The bondsman will also likely require that you sign over something of value as collateral to secure the bond. This is often the title to a house, car or boat. If the bond is so large that even paying 10% is not feasible, then effort will need to be made to lower the bond. This requires the use of a lawyer.
Getting the Bond Lowered
There are typically two opportunities to accomplish this. The first is at a hearing held within 24 hours of arrest, at a courtroom located within the jail. Unfortunately, family members are unable to attend this hearing. The technical name for this hearing is a Non-Adversarial Probable Cause Hearing, however it is commonly referred to as a First Appearance. If a a private attorney is not retained in time for this hearing, then an Assistant Public Defender will represent the arrestee. Public Defender’s will have little time to prepare for each hearing, so hiring a private criminal defense attorney provides an advantage in preparation and strategy. If bond is sufficiently reduced at First Appearance, then the process of posting bail outlined above would be followed. Be aware that some people arrested in Sarasota are released on their own recognizance, also known as ROR. In this instance, there is no bail required and no other conditions of release that must be complied with. The arrestee must simply show up in court when required. Sadly, this circumstance has become increasingly rare in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. More common is that arrestees are given some monetary bond and also placed on a community supervision program known as Supervised Pretrial Release, or SPR. In Sarasota, this program is administered by a government agency known as Pretrial Services.
If an arrestee released from jail in Sarasota fails to comply with any of their conditions of release, Pretrial Services will forward a warrant for their re-arrest to a local Judge. Typical release conditions include contacting Pretrial Services telephonically, appearing at their offices, submitting to urinalysis and attending counseling. If bond is not reduced sufficiently to secure the arrestee’s release, then a Bond Reduction Hearing will need to be scheduled. This can be done as soon as a few days from arrest, and occasionally could take several weeks. At this hearing, an attorney would present to the Judge the reasons why they should be confident that the arrestee will, in fact, appear for their scheduled court dates, and why they do not pose a danger to our community.
What If I Can’t Make Bond?
If bond is not reduced sufficiently after this hearing, it is possible that the arrestee will spend the pendency of the case in jail. This can occur in very serious cases involving certain felony charges, or where the arrestee has a significant prior record. In some extreme cases, the Judge will allow no bond. This means that no amount of monetary bail can secure the arrestee’s release. In this instance the proper motion to be filed would be a Motion to Set Bond (as opposed to a Motion to Reduce Bond). Again, this will require the services of an attorney. Stay tuned for my future post on things to consider when hiring a criminal defense attorney in Sarasota.