BAIL BOND FAQ

Questions and Answers Regarding Bail in the state of Florida

what happens when someone is arrested in florida

WHAT DOES BAIL MEAN?

When someone is accused of or arrested for a crime, bail is a condition of release, a bond or collateral submitted on behalf of a defendant’s pretrial release. Bail ensures the court a defendant will appear in court on his or her scheduled date, as well as obey any stipulations required in order for his or her release.

WHO SETS BAIL?

The magistrate of the court approves and decides what type of inmate release a defendant in jail will be eligible for while waiting for their trial to prove their innocence. In most Florida counties, bond schedules are allowed and used per Supreme Court Ruling of Walker v. City of Calhoun, Georgia. Many arrestees are released prior to seeing a judge due to the effectiveness of standing bond schedules. If a defendant has not bonded out within 24 hours, they will be seen by a magistrate judge to determine if a more suitable form of release is available.

WHAT IS A BAIL HEARING?

A bail hearing is the process in court to determine if a defendant should be allowed to post bail for release while awaiting his trial. However, there are other types of inmate release. If the suspect is eligible, he may be released from jail on supervised release (SOR), his own recognizance release (OR), money bond (surety) or other conditional releases, such as ankle monitors.

WHERE DOES BAIL MONEY GO?

According to Florida Statutes 903.16, when the full amount of bail is paid in cash by an indemnitor for a defendant to the court, the court clerk holds onto the money until the suspect has completed all requirements of the court, including attending all court dates and meeting all accompanied court ordered requirements.

HOW TO FIND OUT IF SOMEONE IS IN POLICE CUSTODY

Almost all of the counties in Florida have their own inmate databases. If you know the county where the person you are looking for may have been arrested, simply do a search online for the law enforcement agencies in that area. You can also use an online tool provided by Vinelink.com to find inmates throughout the United States. Bail Bonds Now provides a statewide inmate search tool here on our website. You will be required to do your search by county.

HOW TO GET SOMEONE OUT OF JAIL

After someone has been arrested, he or she is booked and fingerprinted into the county jail. A judge or bond schedule (if applicable) will decide whether or not the defendant is able to be released back into the community while waiting for their court date and at what cost. If a bond is offered, an indemnitor (friend or family member) has the ability to either pay the full bail amount set by the court, or to contact a local bail bondsman who will get the inmate released for only a small percentage of the bail amount.

HOW TO FIND OUT IF SOMEONE BONDED OUT OF JAIL

Most law enforcement agencies have their own inmate search tools somewhere on their website. Typically, you can do a search for the inmate using his first, last name and date of birth (if you have it). If the inmate has been bonded out, his or her profile will most likely indicate a bond has been posted with the term ‘surety bond’. The inmate may have also been released on another type of pretrial release, such as ‘SOR’ (aka: Supervised Release) or ‘OR’ (aka: Own Recognizance). These types of release allow the defendant to go home based on his own commitment to appear in court as scheduled (and usually other requirements stated within the court order).  Release without bond is common for non-violent offenders without a criminal history. Those arrested for DUI in Florida are often released this way if they have not been convicted for the same or another offense prior.

HOW TO FIND OUT WHO BAILED SOMEONE OUT OF JAIL

The name of an indemnitor (those who bail out someone from jail) for bailing out a pretrial defendant in Florida is confidential information and not to be given out to anyone. The surety company that issued the bond would have that information. But again, the agent is in a fiduciary agreement with the indemnitor and client. Therefore, a bond agent is not at jurisdiction to give out names of indemnitors.

HOW LONG AFTER POSTING BAIL IS INMATE RELEASED?

In most cases, it takes between two and eight hours to be released from county jail after a bond has been posted. You will want to be sure you’re using a licensed, experienced and reliable bondsman in order to make the process as fast as possible. Once the bondsman posts a bond, it is up to jail administration to complete the paperwork process for the actual release.

HOW MUCH IS BAIL FOR A FELONY?

In Florida, the amount set for bail for a felony crime will be usually be based on each county’s own Uniform Bond Schedule. For example, in Hillsborough County (Tampa Area) the bond schedule for felony charges begin with City or County Ordinance Violations at $250, but reach as high as $15,000 for First Degree Felony. The other Florida counties use similar bond schedules. But it is up to the magistrate judges to make the final call.

HOW MUCH IS A BAIL BOND?

Bail bond amounts are contingent upon the type of crime the defendant is accused of. Florida state bonds typically cost ten percent (10%) and federal bonds, fifteen percent (15%).

HOW DOES POSTING BAIL WORK?

An inmate waiting to be released from jail who has been given a set amount for cash bail has the option of paying the full amount of bail required by the courts or using a surety bond company to pay a small percentage of the full bail amount. If paying the full bail amount is preferred, this may be paid to the court directly using cash, a cashier’s check or money order.

IS BAIL REFUNDABLE?

If an inmate has paid the full bail amount directly to the court, he or she will receive a full refund after they have attended all court appearances and met all court ordered requirements (minus any required court fees). But keep in mind, if a commercial bondsman provides a surety bond for the release, whatever money paid to the bond agent is non-refundable.

WHAT IS UNSECURED BAIL?

Unsecured bail bonds are a form of pretrial inmate release allowing the defendant to get out of jail without money being offered up front. An unsecured bail bond simply holds an arrestee liable based on the bond’s conditions (or court ordered contingencies). The defendant simply signs a contract agreeing to appear in court as scheduled. If he or she fails to show up for their trial, the full amount of bail will be required of the defendant.

HOW TO BAIL SOMEONE OUT OF JAIL IN ANOTHER STATE?

If someone you care about has been arrested in another state, the first thing to do is verify where the inmate is by doing a search online to find the county sheriff’s inmate finder tool. This is usually found on the sheriff’s website. Once you discover where the inmate is and what the bond amount required for his or her release, call a bail bondsman within that area. There is also a website called Vinelink.com  that offers a nationwide search. The best way to find a bondsman nearby the jail is to search using the same zip code as the correction facility. The bondsman in that state will know how to handle the release.

HOW TO BAIL SOMEONE OUT OF JAIL WITH NO MONEY

When a judge agrees to release an inmate on his own recognizance (OR) or supervised release (SOR), money will not be required to get the person out of jail. If an inmate is eligible for release on money bail, the indemnitor (person who is arranging bail for the inmate) will need to pay the full required amount for the inmate’s release to the court directly or pay a bondsman a smaller portion of the bail amount, which is the fee required (and is not refundable). In circumstances where the bail amount is set at $10,000 or more, payments may be arranged at the discretion of the bail bondsman. In some cases where high bail amounts are required, collateral is often used to secure the release by the courts and/or bondsman.

WHAT HAPPENS TO BAIL MONEY?

When someone pays the full amount of bail directly to the court, that money will be refunded after the defendant has appeared at all required court hearings and abided by all court-ordered requirements while out on bail (minus any fees required by the court). If the defendant does not meet all of these requirements, the money will not be returned. If the defendant is found ‘not-guilty’ the bond is discharged. When a defendant is found guilty, the bond amount is released upon sentencing. If a secured or property bond (aka: collateral) was used for the inmate’s release and the defendant does not meet all of the court-ordered requirements for his or her release, the court will seize whatever property (collateral) was used in place of actual money. If a bondsman arranged for the inmate’s release, no refund is given at any time.

HOW DO I BAIL SOMEONE OUT OF JAIL?

After an inmate has been booked and fingerprinted in Florida, most counties offer a systematic bond schedule with bond amounts based on the type of crime committed. However, an inmate is only eligible for release at the discretion of the judge. Some of those who are arrested may be eligible for supervised release or a release on their own recognizance if it is a first offense and the suspect is not considered a threat to the community.

Once a bond has been offered by the court, anyone who is of age eighteen or over with a state ID or passport can bail someone out of jail by either paying the full amount set by the court or by purchasing a surety bond for a small portion of the full bail amount from a commercial bondsman. That person is called the ‘indemnitor’. The indemnitor applies for the bond on behalf of the defendant, but the indemnitor is responsible to make sure the defendant appears at all required court dates and abides by all court orders attached to the pretrial release.

HOW TO PAY A BAIL BOND

Most bail bondsman will accept payments with cash, debit or credit card. For large bond amounts (usually a minimum of $10,000) payment plans are often accepted. In some cases, collateral (i.e. property, vehicles, etc.) may be used to accommodate large bond amounts. For the most part, payment arrangements may vary based on the bail bond agent.

HOW MUCH IS A BOND FOR FAILURE TO APPEAR?

Typically, a bond for a failure to appear in Florida is either $2,000 or twice the value of the monetary commitment or undertaking of the of the original bond, whichever is greater.

A full explanation of ‘Failure to appear’ bonds are in Florida state statutes 903.046 ‘Purpose of and Criteria for Bail Determination’, item (d).

WHAT IS BAIL FORFEITURE?

When a defendant fails to show up for any scheduled court date while out of jail on the full set bail amount ordered by the court, any bail money paid upon the inmate’s release is routed to the clerk of the court. No money will be returned to the indemnitor or defendant (this includes any type of collateral used). If a bail bond was purchased by a commercial bondsman in place of the full bail amount ordered by the court, the court then demands for the surety company (aka: bail bondsman) to pay the amount pledged as security to the court.

CAN A BAIL BONDSMAN REVOKE A BOND?

When a bail bond agent posts a bond for the release of a pretrial defendant, he or she is responsible for making sure the suspect shows up for all court dates and does not become a problem for victims or the community. Therefore, when a bondsman issues a bond for the inmate’s release, an agreement is signed between the inmate and the bail bond company within the bail bond application.

If the defendant fails to show up for any of the required court dates or to abide by the bail bond agreement or conditions ordered by the court, the bail bond company has the right to release the bond. However, a bondsman cannot revoke a bond based on funds received or not received. Conversely, if the defendant fails to meet all payment requirements for a bond and then should need a bail bond again in the future, his failure in paying the previous bond could affect the defendant’s ability to obtain a new bond if arrested again.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU SKIP BAIL?

Skipping bail (aka ‘jumping bail”) takes place when a defendant posts bail to be released from jail while waiting for his trial(s). But he then does not show up for a court date intentionally to avoid prosecution or sentencing. When a suspect skips bail, it is often treated as a new crime (a felony crime in some regions). Yet, the court must prove the defendant is guilty of purposely avoiding his hearing. If a defendant is indeed found guilty for skipping bail, the sentence could result in large fines and possible prison time.

Learn more about Florida Criminal Procedure and Corrections Statutes

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