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Will I Get to Bond Out After a Florida Domestic Violence Arrest?

“How soon can I get out of jail?”

That’s usually one of the first questions asked by anyone arrested on a Florida domestic violence charge.

As longtime Broward criminal defense lawyers, we work tirelessly to help our clients secure release from jail as soon as possible - and on the best possible terms.

In Florida, there’s a legislative presumption favoring release of accused criminal defendants before trial on non-monetary conditions, on their own recognizance. For those accused of lesser offenses, this usually takes a few hours. Sometimes it doesn’t even require arrest and booking; the defendant simply signs a notice to appear in court.

However, per F.S. 907.041(4)(c), defendants accused of more serious crimes (particularly violent offenses) are required to attend a first appearance hearing before they’re given an opportunity to post bond.

Short of homicide, rape, or armed robbery, most Florida criminal defendants will get the opportunity to post bail (though there are exceptions if the accused is deemed a repeat offender, in violation of an existing protective order, and/or a flight risk).

If a domestic violence defendant is granted the chance to post bond, they should expect to pay money to the court or arrange for a third-party bail bonds agency to post a surety bond for them (for a fee). They should also prepare to follow a list of court-ordered rules upon release. But before a judge can set those conditions, they are required by Rule 3.131(b)(4) to review a preliminary report prepared by the pretrial services division (in accordance with F.S. 907.041(3)(b)) that details:

  • The defendant’s circumstances pertaining to family, employment, finances, mental condition, and length of current residency.
  • Defendant’s prior arrests, convictions, failures to appear in court, and factors that might increase the odds of a flight risk from prosecution. (A history of domestic violence offenses will be of particular concern to the court.)
  • Other factors to weigh in consideration of whether pretrial monitoring is necessary, and if so, how intensive that oversight should be.

This information is presented to the court at the first appearance, a hearing that is usually held within 24 hours of arrest. (It can take longer if one is arrested on a weekend or holiday.)

If it’s your first offense, no one was seriously hurt, you’re employed, and you have close ties to the community, you will likely be given a lesser bond amount than someone with multiple prior convictions, spotty job history, few family ties to the community, and the resources and/or motivation to flee.

As for the non-monetary special conditions set for release on a Florida domestic violence charge, per F.S. 903.047 these usually include:

  • A no contact order to protect the alleged victim(s).
  • Order to surrender all firearms and any other dangerous weapons in your possession.
  • Strict prohibition on the possession and/or use of drugs and alcohol. May be monitored via electronic device or mandatory random drug tests.
  • GPS monitoring, typically with an ankle bracelet.
  • House arrest.
  • Report in person regularly or upon request to pretrial services monitoring personnel.
  • Mandated counseling or substance abuse treatment.
  • Bond revoked if the defendant is re-arrested, violates a protection order, or fails to appear in court.

Violate any of those terms at your own peril. Not only will your bond be revoked, but your odds of re-release before trial will be slim.

How Florida Bail Bonds Work

A bond is not a civil right. It is considered a privilege, and is not guaranteed in every criminal case. As outlined in Chapter 903 of Florida Statutes, it is a personal promise from a defendant to the government that in exchange for their release, they will appear in court when scheduled.

In non-violent, low-level offenses, bond is pretty straightforward and predetermined by the type and severity of the crime. After booking, the defendant is informed of how much bond will be. They can pay it right away, and are usually released fairly soon after. (Keep in mind: It could take a good 6-12 hours or more for payment processing. If funds aren’t received until late afternoon - or worse, late afternoon on a Friday - it could end up taking another day or even a couple of days. Frustration is understandable, but keep your cool or risk further delays.)

In a lot of lower level cases, defendants don’t even have to pay bond. Instead, they’re released on their own recognizance, which just means they sign an agreement to return to court when required - or risk returning to jail.

In violent and/or higher level offenses, bond can’t be set until first appearance, usually scheduled within 24 hours of the arrest. Domestic violence falls into this category. At the first appearance, the judge can do one of three things:

  • Release the defendant on their own recognizance. This means they are not required to provide monetary assurance, though usually with special conditions).
  • Set a cash or surety bond. Cash bonds involve full payment of the bail amount, either with cash or a credit card. Surety bonds are when third-party agents step in to pay the bail bond for the accused, requiring a contractual agreement from the accused that they will appear in court as required and charging a fee (around 10 percent) for the service.
  • Deny bond. The person remains in custody without an opportunity for release pending trial or another court hearing.

If you post a cash bond with the court and show up to all required court appearances, you’ll probably get most of that money back - minus court fees. However, if you use a bond agent to post a surety bond, they’ll keep their service fee. If you don’t show up to court, the bond agent can sue you in civil court. Of course in that case, you’ll likely have bigger problems - like a warrant for your arrest and denial of bond pending trial.

If you are arrested for domestic violence in Broward County, Palm Beach County, or Miami-Dade County, the dedicated criminal defense team at The Ansara Law Firm can help.

If you have been charged with domestic violence in South Florida, call The Ansara Law Firm today for your free initial consultation at (954) 761-4011.

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