Learn how to navigate the bail system
How Bail Bonds Work – Bail involves a process in which a defendant is released in exchange for money. This money is a type of “insurance” that the defendant will show up for his or her court dates. Bail exists because trials can take weeks or months to work their way through the court system and bail permits a defendant – who may be innocent – to wait for their trial at home, while pursuing normal activities.
The Bail Process
When people are arrested for a crime, they generally are taken to a local law enforcement station where they are booked. This involves recording information about the crime that allegedly has taken place, as well as basic information about the suspect. During booking, a police officer usually will take a mug shot and fingerprint the suspect. Then they will run a background check on the suspect. The officer will hold onto any of the suspect’s personal property – this will be returned to the suspect when he or she is released. The officer generally will allow the suspect to make a phone call and will check to see whether the suspect is intoxicated. After the booking procedure, the suspect is incarcerated in a county jail or station lock-up.
What happens next depends on the crime itself. For crimes not deemed serious, the suspect is often allowed to post bail immediately. In cases involving serious crimes, the suspect will have to wait in jail – usually no more than 48 hours – for a bail hearing. At the bail hearing, a judge or magistrate will decide whether the suspect may be released on bail. The judge then will decide the amount of bail.
When determining bail for a suspect, the judge will consider the suspect’s flight risk and the severity of the crime. If a suspect has a criminal history, or a history of not showing up for court appearances, that may affect a judge’s decision about bail. The judge may consider whether the suspect is a risk to others, whether the suspect has ties to the community, the stability of residence, work history and the nature of the crime. As a result of this information, release conditions and bail terms are established. Ultimately, the bail is at the judge’s discretion, although some jurisdictions have bail schedules, which set a standard bail amount.
Once a judge has determined an amount for bond, the suspect usually can be released if he or she posts the bond in cash or in assets. If the accused or the family of the accused does not have the money or the assets to pay for bond, they can apply to a bail bondsman. AboutBail.com is a directory you can search to find a local bondsman. The bondsman will take a percentage of the bond amount – usually between 10 and 15 percent of the bond money depending on the state – and will supply the rest of the money so that the suspect can leave jail. If a suspect cannot afford bail or a bail bondsman, he or she can appeal the bond through his or her attorney.
Types of Bonds
Here are some of the most common types of bonds that a judge can set:
Surety Bond – In a surety bond, a bail agent guarantees the court that they will pay if an accused does not show up in court. A surety company or the agent’s property is used as a guarantee.
Cash Bail – With cash bail, the accused must post bail in cash – not in assets. This type of bail is considered a strong incentive for the accused to show up in court, since the accused will forfeit the cash if they fail to show up for all of their court appearances.
Property Bond – A property bond involves the court recording a lien on a property to secure the bail amount. If the defendant does not appear in court, the court may seize the property. This type of bail is not as common.
Release on Personal Recognizance – In this situation, the accused is released without any financial motive to secure their return. This sort of bail usually is through county or law enforcement administered pre-trial release programs.
Unsecured Personal Bond – This is similar to released on personal recognizance, except there is a cash penalty if the defendant fails to appear. For example, on a $10,000 unsecured personal bond, should the defendant fail to appear, he will owe the court $10,000.
Secured Personal Bond – The defendant is allowed to post his own bond directly to the court, with the hopes of a full refund upon completion of his trial. Oftentimes, this bond becomes a fine as a part of the defendants sentencing when the defendant is remanded to the court.
Pre-Trial Release Bonds – An officer of the pretrial release unit agrees to take the defendant’s case and the defendant is released after meeting specific requirements for participation in the program. These may include verification of residence, employment etc. as well participation in drug screening, electronic monitoring, home visits or required office visits. This is a governmentally funded program.
Bail Review – Defendants are offered an opportunity for a judge to review the bail set by the court officer if they have failed to arrange bail prior to a specific date. Sometime this is automatically set, while other times it is in response to a motion filed by the defendant’s attorney.
What is a Bail Bond?
A bail bond is a contract between a bail bond agency and jail that allows the release of a person pending the outcome of their criminal case. A bail bond agency assures the State of Florida that the defendant will appear in court on his/her court date. A family member or friend of the defendant can then become an indemnitor by signing an agreement holding them responsible for the defendant’s appearance in court.
What does it cost to bond someone out of jail in Brevard County, Florida?
It depends. The bond amount is often set by a judge and is based on the nature of the charges for which the person has been arrested . By Florida Law, the bail bondsman’s fee is set at 10% of the total bond amount (no more and no less). For total bond amounts under $1000, the statutory minimum fee for a bond is set at $100. Bail bond agencies that accept LESS or MORE than the 10% premium are operating ILLEGALLY, and should be reported to the Florida Department of Insurance Regulation.
Do I get my money back once the person appears in court?
No. The 10% bond premium is non-refundable. The premium is payment for the service of getting the defendant out of jail and for the agency’s assurance to the State of Florida that the defendant will appear in court on his/her court date.
Why don’t I just post a cash bond? Wouldn’t I get that money back?
NO! Florida Statute 903.286 states that the clerk of the court SHALL withhold from the return of a cash bond posted on behalf of a criminal defendant by a person other than a bail bond agent sufficient funds to pay ANY unpaid costs of prosecution, costs of representation, court fees, court costs, and criminal penalties. All cash bonds may be subject to automatic forfeiture and withholding by the clerk of the court for the payment of said costs, regardless of who posted the funds. In addition, any money owed from previous cases anywhere in the State of Florida can also be taken. Bottom line: If you post a cash bond, you may never see that money again. Read the statute Here. http://www.flsenate.gov/laws/statutes/2012/903.286 Even if you do some get money back, you may not have access to that money for months or even years. For these reasons, it is always a smarter decision to hire a bail bondsman.
What is collateral, and is it necessary?
Collateral is an insurance to the bail bond agency that the person will appear in court . This can be as simple as a signature on an indemnity agreement and promissory notice guaranteeing the full bond amount. For very large bonds, a mortgage note or car title may be required. Nothing is recorded against the property so long as the accused (or his attorney) appears in court. Some bail bond agencies claim that collateral is never required. This is a false claim!
Once a bond is posted, how long does it take the jail to release an inmate?
Two to twelve hours and sometimes even more than that. Brevard County Jail release times vary widely based on the amount of inmates being booked in and out at that particular time, the time of day, the amount of booking staff on duty, and other factors. The bail bondsman has absolutely no influence over the release and processing time of inmates, however, a good bail bondsman will arrive at the jail as soon as possible after he is hired, thereby cutting down on the time that the accused sits in custody. A bondsman is a guest at the jail and has NO over release times. There is no such thing as “Immediate Release”. You should be weary of any Bail Bonding agency that advertises this!
HOW DO I CHOOSE A GOOD BAIL BONDING AGENCY?
Here are questions that you should ask ANY bail bondsman before hiring them:
- How long have you been in business?
- How many office locations do you have?
- Do you have at least ONE office within close proximity of the Jail?
- What is your reputation in the community?
- Are you fully Licensed and Insured?
- Are you in good standing with the Florida Department of Insurance Regulation?
- Are you a member of the Florida Bail Agents Association (FBAA)?
- Do you or any of your employees have criminal records?
- If I hired you, would YOU (not “an associate”) be available and accessible 24 hours a day 7 days a week?
IN ADDITION, you should also assess the bondsman’s confidentiality, trust, reliability, availability, and professionalism while speaking with them. Unfortunately, many bail bond agencies are fly-by-night businesses that operate in less-desirable areas of town. It always pays to DO YOUR RESEARCH when choosing a bail bond agency.
Why chose A Absolute Bail Bonds?
A Absolute Bail Bonds has been serving Brevard County for over 25 years and is known for its FAST service and excellent reputation in the community. We our fully licensed and insured and we are available 24/7. A Absolute Bail Bonds has several convenient locations in both North and South Brevard County, including one location just several blocks from the Brevard County Jail in Cocoa, FL.