Bail / Bond Hearings
When a person has been arrested, his or her understandable first concern is when he or she is going to be released. While Florida law requires bonds to be set relatively quickly and at a reasonable amount, this does not always apply to every case.
Certain criminal charges, such as capital felonies or other crimes that may result in life sentences can make alleged offenders ineligible for parole. Additionally, judges can set higher bond amounts when there are concerns about an alleged offender being a possible “flight risk,” meaning there may be a likelihood that he or she would flee the state or country in order to avoid facing the criminal charges in court.
Fort Lauderdale Bail Hearings Lawyer
If your loved one was arrested for any kind of crime in Florida, it is critical for you to make sure that he or she has legal counsel in order to get his or her bond set at a reasonable amount. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. helps clients throughout Broward County, including such communities as Fort Lauderdale, Margate, Pembroke Pines, Davie, Hallandale Beach, Sunrise, Wilton Manors, and Hollywood.
Our Broward County bond hearing attorneys have experience on both sides of the aisle, so we understand the most effective ways to present these cases for alleged offenders. You can have our firm review your case during a free, confidential consultation as soon as you call (954) 716-8538 right now.
Broward County Bail and Bond Hearings Overview
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Florida Bond Process
Alleged offenders generally have one of three ways of posting bail after a court has set the bond amount:
- Arrest — Police may place an individual under arrest if they see the alleged offender committing a crime. He or she could also be arrested if authorities have obtained an arrest warrant following a criminal investigation or a bench warrant issued by judge following a failure to appear in court.
- Booking — Following the physical arrest, an alleged offender is taken to a local jail where he or she will have his or her “mug shots” (photographs of alleged offender’s face and profile) and fingerprints taken. Some alleged offenders charged with non-violent criminal offenses may be released on their own recognizance (ROR) or paying a small cash bond, but others will be subject to additional searches and have their personal property inventoried before being held in jail for their initial hearings.
- Arraignment — This is the first court hearing for an alleged offender in which a judge will formally present the criminal charges against him or her. An arraignment usually happens within 24 hours of the arrest and must be scheduled with 48 hours, as the judge will also set the alleged offender’s bond amount during this hearing. All people who have been arrested have the right to legal representation at these hearings, and a lawyer can be extremely beneficial in helping a person obtain the most favorable bond conditions. If an arraignment is not scheduled, the alleged offender can be given a hearing specifically for the purposes of determining bail.
- Bond Reduction Hearing — In some cases, a judge may set a bond amount that the alleged offender simply cannot afford. In such cases, the alleged offender can request a hearing to have the bond reduced. It is critical to have an attorney who is familiar with pretrial release procedures and can quickly and efficiently achieve pretrial release.
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Types of Bond in Fort Lauderdale
There are essentially three different ways that an alleged offender can bond out of jail in Florida:
- Signature Bond or ROR Bond — With an ROR bond, the alleged offender merely signs an agreement that he or she will appear in court. A signature bond requires a person in the community to sign the document guaranteeing the alleged offender’s future court appearance. In most cases, these agreements require the alleged offender to pay nothing in order to get pretrial release, but there may be a cash value assigned to the bond agreement in certain cases that the alleged offender will be responsible for paying should he or she not appear in court.
- Cash Bond — In order to be bailed out, the alleged offender will have to pay the full amount of the bond. Broward County courts accept cash payments that involve no fees, but Western Union money transfers, credit card, or debit card payments may include service fees. Cash bonds cannot be paid with personal checks or money orders. The amount that is paid to bail out (less any fines that are part of guilty or nolo contendere [no contest] plea) will be returned to the alleged offender at the conclusion of his or her case, but the entire amount will be forfeited should he or she fail to appear in court.
- Surety Bond — This is a bond that is posted through a licensed surety bond agent, more commonly referred to as a “bondsman.” The bondsman or bonding company will charge the alleged offender a non-refundable fee for posting this bond (often about 10 percent of the total bond amount). If the alleged offender does not appear in court, then the bondsman or bonding company is liable for the entire amount of the bond.
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Factors in Determining Bond in Broward County
When a judge decides what amount to set an alleged offender’s bail at in order for pretrial release, he or she will take several aspects into consideration. Some of the things that can play a significant role in that judge’s final decision to set or reduce a bond amount include:
- The nature of the alleged criminal offense, including circumstances leading up to or surrounding the arrest and the amount and evidence against the alleged offender
- The alleged offender’s criminal history, including whether he or she has previously failed to appear in court or is on probation, parole, or another release pending resolution of a separate criminal charge
- The alleged offender’s mental condition
- The alleged offender’s ties to the community, including his or her current residence, current employment and employment history, and family members in the area
- The alleged offender’s likelihood to commit another crime or the danger he or she would pose to the community and/or any alleged victim
- The source of the funds the alleged offender would be using to post bail and possible imposing a Nebbia Hold (see below)
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Nebbia Holds on Florida Bonds
If a judge believes that the funds being used to pay a bond were acquired through illegal activities that thus reduce the financial incentive of the alleged offender returning to court, then a Nebbia Hold can be added as a condition of the bond. Under a Nebbia Hold, the alleged offender or any of his or her co-signers would have to disclose copies of bank records, income statements, accounting documents, or other material that proves the money being used for bail came from legitimate sources.
Generally, the court uses a Nebbia Hold to ensure that bail money did not come from illicit activities such as drug dealing, fraud, theft, forgery, stolen property, or other criminal acts. There are two ways this type of hold may be lifted:
- Joint Stipulation Order — This is an order that may be filed only if the prosecutor agrees to have the hold lifted without a hearing.
- Nebbia Hearing — Also referred to as a bail source hearing, this is when the alleged offender will have the opportunity to prove to the court that the source(s) for the funds being used to pay or his or her release are legitimate.
Having skilled legal representation as soon as possible following an arrest will give an alleged offender the best chance of obtaining the most favorable bond conditions with the quickest pretrial release.
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Fort Lauderdale Bail / Bond Hearings Resources
Broward County Clerk of the Circuit and County Courts — This page of the Clerk of Courts website contains many answers to frequently asked questions. This includes information about acceptable forms of payment, address changes, and getting cases sealed or expunged.
201 Southeast 6th Street
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida — You can find more information about Circuit Judges and County Judges on this website serving Leon County, Gadsden County, Liberty County, Jefferson County, Wakulla County, and Liberty County. There are also court calendars, forms, and administrative orders.
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Find the Best Bond Hearings Lawyer in Broward County
Has your loved one been arrested for an alleged criminal offense in Florida? Contact Meltzer & Bell, P.A. right way to get help with bond conditions, pretrial release, and all criminal defense issues.
Our firm aggressively defends people throughout the greater Fort Lauderdale area, including Miramar, Coral Springs, Plantation, Deerfield Beach, Weston, Coconut Creek, Tamarac, and Pompano Beach. Call (954) 716-8538 today to set up a free legal consultation that will let our Fort Lauderdale bail hearing attorneys review your case.