Bonds: what everyone should know

For most law-abiding citizens, the thought of ever having to get out of jail seems incomprehensible. But at some point, we, a family member or a close friend may need to bond out of jail, facing a very complicated process.

Courts issue bonds to ensure individuals appear in court and protect the community from dangerous persons. Bonds often specify money, but can also be coupled other conditions such as surrendering passports, or staying away from complainants.

The money amount is usually determined by the seriousness of the charges, the number of charges, the individual’s ties to the community and prior convictions. In some instances, a person may be released under the supervision of the jurisdiction’s pre-trial services department, who monitors the person while their case progresses. These restrictions range from a call once a week and random drug testing, to total home confinement monitored electronically by GPS.

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Under Florida’s constitution, every person charged with a crime is entitled to pretrial release on reasonable conditions, unless charged with a capital crime or one which carries a maximum of life in prison (such as murder and armed robbery). These charges are presumptively non-bondable, and a special hearing is required to determine if that person is allowed to bond out of custody. If charged with such a crime, the individual has to convince a judge that the “proof of guilt is not evident and the presumption is not great.”

Even in instances where a court primarily requires only a monetary bond, increasingly courts are requiring proof that the money is from an untainted source, unconnected to any illegal activities. This is especially so when individuals are arrested on drug or fraud related matters, ensuring a genuine prospect of loss of legitimately earned monies if the person absconds. This precondition has kept many in custody.

Note that if one is released from custody on a bond for a felony, any arrest while the matter is still pending will result in the bond’s forfeiture. Individuals will be held in custody until their first case has been resolved.

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There are many nuances surrounding bonds. When in doubt, consult a trained professional such as an attorney.

Mark Douglas is lawyer specializing in criminal defense, immigration/deportation defense, employment law and real estate law in Fort Lauderdale, FL. He can be contacted at 954-730-8293 and at mark@markdouglaslaw.com

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