For some individuals, it can be a shock to find that their bail is denied and they are ordered to remain in custody until their trial. Because criminal trials can take months or years to complete in the state of Florida, a person can be locked behind bars for an extended period of time – and when they are innocent, that reality becomes even worse.
Understanding Bond Hearings in the State of Florida
Under the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, a person cannot be held in jail awaiting trial if the courts require an excessive amount of bail. However, the constitution and state statutes do not define what “excessive” is nor do they list what is considered a “reasonable” amount of bail. Florida law does recognize that the “reasonable” amount of bail will vary depending on the crime a person is being accused of as well as the criminal history of that individual – and other factors specific to the case. That is why a bond hearing is used to help discover what a reasonable amount of bail is in a particular defendant’s case.
A judge overseeing the bail hearing is guided by two separate principles:
- The bail issued should be enough to ensure that the defendant will appear in court.
- The bail amount required will protect the community from the defendant.
Excessive bail is considered unconstitutional, but too little bail does not give a defendant reason to return to court or avoid harming the community again while they are out on bond. Therefore, judges look for the appropriate and reasonable amount that will not only give the defendant incentive to attend their own hearing, but also ensure they do not commit other crimes while out on bail.
How Bail is Determined by a Judge
Florida law does provide overseeing judges with some guidance as to how they can determine a reasonable amount of bail. During the bond hearing, a judge will consider several factors to help determine bond, which include:
- The nature of the crime;
- The strength of evidence against the defendant;
- The defendant’s ties to the community – such as being employed, having a family, etc.;
- Any previous convictions on record or failure to appear in court in the past;
- The risks of danger to the community if the defendant was released on bail;
- How the defendant will pay for bail;
- If the defendant is currently on parole or probation;
- Other relevant factors presented by the defense and prosecution.
Judges are given wide discretion when determining bail amounts, and if a person’s bail is denied, it often means that the facts of the case were either presented too weakly by the defense, or else very strongly by the prosecutors.
Contact an Attorney for Your Bond Hearing – Call The Law Office of Timothy Armstrong, P.A.
Having a criminal defense attorney present during your bail hearing is critical. The Law Office of Timothy Armstrong, P.A. has represented numerous clients through each stage of the criminal process – including bond hearings. Schedule your case evaluation now by contacting an attorney online or by calling 904-356-8618.