Criminal Defense Attorney in Clearwater, FL for Bond Hearings
A bond hearing in the Tampa Bay area may be required for any of several reasons: a defendant may have been arrested on a new criminal charge; an arrest warrant may have been issued if the defendant received notice of a court hearing and then failed to appear; or, the court may have issued an arrest warrant when a probation officer filed an affidavit claiming that the probationer violated the terms of their probation. In any event, the defendant may be facing a situation that requires the assistance of a criminal defense attorney in determining the type or reducing the amount of the bail bond. Whether your bond hearing is located in Tampa, St. Petersburg, or Clearwater, criminal defense attorney Charles Holloway, P.A., can advise you of your options.
As a defendant, you can be arrested with or without a bond. While most arrests are made with a bond, an arrest warrant for felony violation of probation is typically issued without a bond. If you are arrested with a bond, you can choose to post bond and be released or you can retain a criminal defense lawyer to request a reduction of the bond. An attorney can also assist in requesting that a bond be set, where one does not already exist.
Once the bond is set, you can either pay the bond directly to the jail or obtain the services of a bail bondsman. If you pay the bond directly to the jail, the bond deposit is held in escrow. At the close of your case, the bond will be returned to the person who paid it. If you post your own bond, court fines and costs may be deducted from the bond deposit before the balance is refunded to you.
If you hire a bondsman, the bondsman will usually charge a fee equaling 10% of the total bond. For example, if the bond is $25,000, the bondsman’s fee would be 10% of that, or $2,500. In addition to this 10% fee, the bondsman will also require some collateral (title to a car, title to property, or a credit card) in order to secure the defendant’s commitment to attend court. After the fee and collateral are presented to the bondsman, the bondsman secures the defendant’s release from jail. He does this by guaranteeing to pay the total bond amount to the jail if the defendant fails to appear in court.
“Property bond” is another way to post bond. Property bond uses the value of real estate to guarantee the bond with the court. Property bond has certain requirements, including: (1) the property must exist in the State of Florida, and (2) the property’s equity must total more than the amount of the bond. For instance, let’s say a property has a tax assessed value of $250,000 and a mortgage of $200,000. This property would have an equity value of $50,000. Therefore, this property could be used for a property bond totaling $50,000 or less. Another requirement of a property bond is that the property owner must be willing to forfeit the property to the sheriff if the defendant does not appear in court.
Yet another method of release from custody involves what is known as Release on Recognizance or ROR. ROR comes in two basic forms: supervised and unsupervised. Neither form requires that a defendant post a bond. Supervised ROR requires that a defendant report to either the Court, Salvation Army (misdemeanors), or the Department of Corrections (felonies). Reporting is usually made by phone, on a weekly basis. Unsupervised ROR does not require any reporting; defendants are simply released on their word that they will report to all court hearings and avoid any additional criminal charges.
A criminal defense attorney can assist with the bond process in a number of ways. He can request that the court reduce the amount of bond or release the defendant on ROR, thereby saving the defendant money. If the defendant is not yet in custody, he can arrange for surrender to the court and request a bond reduction. He can also obtain the cooperation of the Sheriff’s Department in postponing the arrest of the defendant while the surrender and bond hearing is pending with the court. In order to be prepared for a bond hearing, the criminal defense lawyer may need to gather information regarding the defendant’s residence, family obligations, employment, medical condition, and prior record. The attorney may also need to identify, contact, and prepare any witnesses that are willing to speak on the defendant’s behalf.
To speak with Charles Holloway, P.A., a criminal defense attorney in Clearwater, FL, about your bond hearing, please call (727) 446-8303. He represents clients throughout the Tampa Bay area including Pinellas, Hillsborough, and Pasco counties. Whether you are facing a bond hearing for a DUI charge, probation violation, or domestic violence, Charles Holloway offers a free initial consultation to discuss your case.