Being arrested and charged with a crime in Florida can be a stressful experience that requires you to learn new terminology and processes. This includes the concept of bail bonds, which many people are unfamiliar with.
If you are in jail on criminal charges, a bail bond can mean the difference between remaining in custody as you await trial or spending this time at home with your family. For Florida residents, understanding how bail bonds work is crucial.
Important Terms to Understand
When it comes to bonding out of custody, it helps to first become familiar with the common terms involved. The most important terms to know include:
Your bail is the amount of money that you must post with the court to be released from custody. The court has the broad authority to set your bail amount at the outset of your case, and it can later modify your bail.
Bail is meant to help guarantee that you will appear for court when your matter is scheduled and that you will not commit new criminal acts while you are awaiting trial.
A bail bondsman can also be called a bail bondsperson, a bondswoman, or a bonding company. This is a professional business person or entity who pledges their own financial resources on behalf of clients who are seeking to make bail.
A bond is a pledge of money that is offered in lieu of depositing funds for your bail. The person or business that puts forth your bond essentially guarantees that if you violate the terms of your bond by not showing up in court, then that person or entity will be responsible for paying the bail amount to the court.
How Bail and Bonds Work in Florida
Suppose that you are accused of a crime in Florida, and either a warrant has been issued for your arrest or a law enforcement officer has probable cause to arrest you. From this point, the following steps will generally happen:
You Are Placed Under Arrest and Taken to Jail
First, the officer will execute the warrant by arresting you and taking you to jail. If there is no warrant, the officer may nonetheless have the right to arrest you without a warrant. At this point, you are considered to be in custody and subject to release only upon the conditions that the court may set.
The Court Sets Bail and Conditions of Release
If your crime is not serious, there may be a bail amount already approved by the court for your offense. Similarly, if there was a warrant issued for your arrest, the court would have already set an amount of bail on the warrant. If neither of these situations apply to you, then the court will set your bail at a hearing.
At the hearing, the court will consider a variety of factors — like the nature of the crime and your criminal history — and decide on an appropriate bail amount. Once that amount is set, then you are free to make bail and obtain your release. Courts have a significant amount of discretion in setting bail amounts they believe are appropriate.
You Either Pay Your Bail or Secure an Approved Bond
Just because a bail is set does not mean you are automatically released. If the court has ordered that you deposit some amount of money as your bail, you will remain in jail until your bail is paid. One option for doing this is by delivering the amount of bail in cash or other funds to the court.
Many times, you will not have the full amount of bail money available to you. In this case, you will need to secure a bond from a bondsman. To do this, you would contact the bondsman or bond company and discuss the terms under which they would submit a bond on your behalf.
Typically, you would pay a portion of the bail amount to the bondsman and agree to certain conditions, like checking in periodically with your bondsman. You may also need to put forth collateral if you are not able to pay the amount the bondsman wants. The bondsman then delivers the bond and secures your release from jail.
For example, suppose the court sets your bail at $50,000. You can secure your pretrial release from custody by delivering $50,000 in cash or property to the court. Alternatively, you can obtain a $50,000 bond, or pledge, from a bonding company.
If you choose the latter route, you will typically have to pay some portion of the $50,000 bail to the company directly. The company will then pledge its resources to the court as your bond, and you will be released.
The Court Reviews Your Bail and Conditions of Release
If you are not able to make your bail, or if you are accused of violating the terms of your pretrial release, the court may set another hearing to review your bail.
Even if you have already deposited bail or had a bond posted in your case, the court can revoke your bond or bail and set a new amount as bail that you would need to meet. If it does so, you typically lose whatever amount you have already paid.
For example, suppose that you were released after paying a bond company $5,000 to post $50,000 in bail for you. You then fail to appear for your next court hearing. The court can order that your bond be revoked or nullified, and will typically issue a warrant for your arrest.
That warrant would have a new bail amount set that you would need to pay to secure your release.
Call Bail Bonds Now for Assistance Throughout Florida
Bail Bonds Now has proudly served Florida residents since 2012. As Florida’s preferred bondsman, we write bonds for almost every criminal charge and bail amount. We strive to offer the best experience to individuals who are in custody in West Palm Beach, as well as throughout the state.
Flexible payment plans are available, and collateral is not required in most cases. We are available for you 24/7. Call today to learn more about our services.