When a family member or friend has been arrested, it is important for the person who is posting bond to understand how the system works – especially when working with a bail bond agent. While bail bond companies work under the same laws, rules and regulations set by the state of Florida, the system can be complex. Read more about the bail bond system in Florida…
The Basics of Bail
Once a person has been arrested, he or she will undergo a processing a period which typically lasts one to three hours. Once completed, in most cases, the defendant will appear before a judge who will determine whether he or she can avoid jail time by posting bond or will have to wait in jail until the trial.
A judge will also determine the amount of bail, a dollar amount set according to the offense for which the defendant was arrested. Here are the two components of bail:
- Bail is money or other property promised to a court to persuade the judge to release a defendant from jail, with the understanding that the defendant will return to court for trial.
- A bail bond is a promise made by a defendant or a surety (a person who promises to pay for the defendant) to the court to forfeit the bail money if the defendant does not return to trial. A surety can be a friend, family member or professional bail bond agent.
The Bail Bonds System
Unless the defendant’s surety has enough money to post bond, a bail bond agent will need to be contacted. When the full amount of bond is posted by a bail bond agent, they will receive a percentage of the total amount of the bond. The fees of the bail bond are set by the state, but in Florida a bond that is $1,000 or less will cost $100, Any amount above that will be 10% of the total bond. So, for a $500 bond, it a bail bond will cost $100. However, for a $3,000 bond, it will cost $300.
If the defendant successfully shows up for every scheduled court appearance, the process is fairly straight forward. The bail bonds agent will keep the percentage of the bond for which they posted and the balance of the bond (minus any courts fees) is refunded.
However, if the defendant fails to appear at the required court date, the court will schedule a forfeiture hearing and issue an arrest warrant. The defendant will have an opportunity to explain why he or she missed the court date, i.e. a misunderstanding or unavoidable circumstance. If the defendant fails to appear at the forfeiture hearing or does not have a valid excuse, the court will keep the entire bond amount.
What About Higher Bond Amounts?
If the defendant has a higher bond, a bail bonds agent may require additional security for the entire amount of the bond, i.e. a house, car, or other asset worth the entire bond amount. If the defendant skips bail, the bail bonds agent can place a lien on the surety’s home, car, or other asset that was put up.
In the event of posting a higher bond amount, the bail bonds agent will likely have some control over the actions of the defendant and may include:
- Requirements for the defendant to remain in a given area
- Regular updates of the defendant’s whereabouts
- Notifications of all required court dates
Should the you not show up to a scheduled court date, the bail bonds agent can issue an arrest or other form of action. In addition, the state will also issue an arrest warrant and the bond will be considered in default. Luckily, Florida has banned “bounty hunters” and only authorized bond agents can pursue or detain a person who has skipped bail.
Posted Bail? Call Stechschulte Nell for Help
If you or someone you care about has been arrested and bail is required to avoid spending time in jail, a bail bond may be the solution. However, it is critical that all court dates are satisfied in order to avoid additional problems.
A criminal defense attorney such as Stechschulte Nell will advise you on future court proceedings and any bail bonds that have been posted. As we understand that being arrested is an unexpected expense, we also offer a variety of payment plans. For more information or to schedule a free case review with Attorney Ben Stechschulte, call our South Tampa criminal defense law firm at (813) 280-1244.