Emergency Bond Reduction Hearings in Florida

The purpose of setting bail or a surety bond is to ensure the defendant comes to court. Because of recent reform movements, courts are pressured to find non-monetary ways to ensure the person accused returns to court.

Unfortunately, the non-monetary measures are more burdensome than just posting a cash bond.

When the bond is set too high, a criminal defense attorney can file a motion asking the court to set a substantially lower bond or release the defendant on his or her own recognizance (often called the “OR” bond or the “ROR” bond).

Each judicial circuit has its procedures for requesting a bond reduction.

The defendant’s family often saves money by hiring a criminal defense attorney to file the motion to reduce the bond or modify the pretrial release conditions.

If the defendant is being held without bond because of the severe nature of the charges, an experienced attorney can ask the court to reconsider the issue and set a reasonable bond because of the particular facts and circumstances in the case.

Another problem arises when the judge sets burdensome pretrial release conditions, including a GPS or SCRAM monitor. As a result, when the pretrial release conditions are too burdensome, the attorney can file a motion to remove those conditions.

Attorney for Bond Hearings in Tampa, FL

An experienced criminal defense attorney can file a “Motion to Reduce Bond.” In many cases, the purpose of the bond motion is to show the court that the defendant’s ties to the community and the circumstances of the case make it unlikely that the defendant would flee the jurisdiction or be a danger to the community.

The Florida Constitution provides that every person charged with a crime is entitled to pretrial release with reasonable conditions with few exceptions.

We are experienced in fighting for more reasonable pretrial release conditions, including a lower bail amount, pretrial release conditions, or release on his or her own recognizance.

Contact an attorney at Sammis Law Firm to discuss an emergency bond hearing for a case in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL, or one of the surrounding counties in the greater Tampa Bay area.

Call (813) 250-0500.

Questions about Bond Reduction Motions in Florida

At the beginning of the case, the criminal defense attorney’s most important job is getting the bond reduce or getting bond conditions removed. We can help you with any of the following issues:

  • A warrant has been issued for your arrest, but you do not know the amount of bond that you will have to post after you are arrested on the warrant;
  • You “failed to appear” after receiving notice of your next court date, and the court issued a “no bond” warrant for your arrest and an attorney might be able to get the arrest warrant lifted;
  • The court revoked your bond because you are accused of committing a new offense while free on bail awaiting trial on another charge;
  • You were arrested for a capital felony offense and are being held with no bond, or with an unreasonably high bond;
  • You have “no bond” because you were arrested on a Violation of Probation (VOP) warrant;
  • The court attached a “Nebbia Hold or Nebia Hearing” requirement to your bond, typically required for many drug trafficking and white-collar crimes; or
  • You were accused of violating the terms of the Pretrial Global Positioning System (GPS) House Arrest.

Under any of these circumstances, a criminal defense attorney experienced in arguing bail bond reduction hearings will be able to represent you at your first appearance hearing or a subsequent emergency bond hearing.

Hiring an experienced attorney for the bond hearing early to fight for your release is critical. Having your bail or bond reduced can save you and your family thousands of dollars and can speed up your release from custody.

Substituting a Cash Bond for a Surety Bond

Did you know that you can convert a cash bond to a surety bond so that the entire cash bond amount can be refunded to you? Under Florida Statute Section F.S. 903.18, “[a]ny cash bond may be substituted for a surety bond anytime before a breach of bond.”

The statute allows you to substitute (or switch out) the cash bond for a surety bond. If you do this a bail-bond company would take on your liability (for a fee) and your money will be refunded.

Many people decide to secure the bond with a surety company over remaining with the cash bond so that they can free up that money to retain an attorney, pay restitution, or pay unexpected bills.

A better option would be to ask the court to reduce the bond during a bond reduction hearing so that you can avoid any fees that would otherwise be paid to the bail bond company.

Posting Bond after an Arrest for Criminal Charges in Florida

Once the bail amount has been set by the court, there are two methods of posting bail:

  • Cash Bond
    • In order to post a cash bond, the entire amount of the bond must be posted in cash or a cashier’s check with the sheriff’s office in Hillsborough County.
    • At the conclusion of the case, the entire amount of the cash bond (less any fines or court costs imposed by the court if the defendant enters a plea or is found guilty) is returned to the individual that posted the bond.
    • If the person arrested fails to appear in court, then the entire bond will be forfeited.
  • Surety Bond
    • To post a bond, a surety or bail bonding company can post a written guarantee called a bail bond.
    • In exchange for posting the bail bond, the bail bonding company typically charges a bond premium fee which is 10% of the bail bond’s total amount.
    • The bail bondsman may also require collateral that equals the bail bond’s total amount.
    • Therefore, if the bond is set at $25,000.00, an individual might enter into a contract with the bail bonding company to pay a fee of $2,500.00, plus post collateral for the entire $25,000.00.

Under What Circumstances Can the Court Revoke My Bond?

Under Florida Statute Section 903.047, the defendant must comply with certain conditions of release imposed by the Court.

As long as the conditions of pre-trial release are reasonable, the court can set certain special conditions of release. The standard conditions typically include the following:

  • not engaging in criminal activity; or
  • not contacting the victim either directly or through a third party.

When a defendant violates the conditions of release, Florida law allows the court to revoke the bond and hold the person without bond under certain circumstances.

The hearing to revoke the bond can occur at the first appearance court when the defendant comes before the court on new charges, and the judge discovers that the Defendant also has pending charges.

Florida law provides that a finding of probable cause, which can be determined by the Judge from the criminal report affidavit or probable cause affidavit by itself, is sufficient to revoke the bond on the pending case.

Short of a new arrest, the court may also revoke the bond on a motion from the State that alleges that the Defendant violated a condition of pre-trial release.

The prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office carries the burden of proof at the hearing. See F.S. 907.041 and Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.132.

If the court finds that “no conditions of release can reasonably protect the community from risk of physical harm to persons or assure the presence of the accused at trial, ” the court can revoke the bond at the hearing.

What Happens at First Appearance Court After an Arrest?

Hiring an attorney before your first appearance is critical. At the first appearance hearing, the court will set the special conditions of your pretrial release.

Bond is available for anyone charged with a crime, except the court can deny bond to a person charged with a crime punishable by life in prison or the death penalty when proof of guilt is evident.

In most cases, other than domestic violence cases, the accused comes into the first appearance hearing with a bond that has already been set from a standard bond schedule.

If the accused was arrested on an arrest warrant, the judge who signed the warrant usually already set a bond amount, although that amount can be reviewed at first appearance.

In determining the bond conditions for pretrial release, the court will consider the following factors:

  1. the financial circumstances of the defendant;
  2. the defendant’s address and ties to the community;
  3. the defendant’s occupation and employment history;
  4. the defendant’s family and relatives that live in the community;
  5. the extent and nature of any criminal history of the defendant; and
  6. the nature of the alleged offense.

First Appearance Court in Hillsborough County, FL

The standard bond schedule or bond amount set on the warrant can be either raised or lowered at first appearance.

The defendant is brought before the court for a First Appearance (or Advisory Hearing) within 24 hours of the arrest. In Hillsborough County, the first appearance bail bond hearings are held in Division “O.”

For Hillsborough County, the first appearance hearing is electronically recorded. Division “O” is also referred to as “Video Court” because the defendants are brought before the court via live video camera from the jail, while the judge, prosecutor, and criminal defense attorney appear in the courtroom.

A privately retained attorney can argue for a zero-dollar bond (often called the “ROR bond”) that allows you to be released on your own recognizance just by signing a promise to return to court (also called a “signature bond”) instead of posting a bond to secure your appearance in court to answer the charges against you.

Special Procedures for Bond Reduction ROR Hearings in Hillsborough County, FL

The special procedures for bond reduction or ROR hearings in the Circuit Criminal Division in Hillsborough County, FL, are explained in Administrative Order S-2020-014 entered on February 24, 2020.

The administrative order provides that if the criminal defense counsel seeks either the reduction of bond or release on recognizance (ROR), the defense counsel will contact the assistant state attorney assigned to the case or that attorney’s immediate supervisor.

If the defense counsel and the prosecutor are able to stipulate to the conditions of a defendant’s release, the stipulation will be reduced to writing and delivered to the office of the presiding judge for consideration and approval.

If the presiding judge is not available, the stipulation will be presented to the administrative judge of the Circuit Criminal Division or the administrative judge’s designee for consideration and approval.

When the prosecutor and the defense attorney are unable to stipulate to the conditions of a defendant’s release, defense counsel may schedule a hearing with the presiding judge and file an application for modification of bail with a notice of hearing in accordance with Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.13l(d)(2).

In cases involving an alleged violation of probation (VOP), applications for modification of bail will be submitted to the judge assigned to the division in which the alleged violation is pending or scheduled.

Applications for modification of bail in such cases will not be heard at first appearance or in Division “O” without the specific concurrence of the judge assigned the violation, or in that judge’s absence, the administrative judge of the Circuit Criminal Division, an associate administrative judge or the chief judge.

If defense counsel schedules a hearing for the reduction of bond or release on recognizance, defense counsel will notify the defendant’s probation officer of the Scheduled hearing so that probation information can be made available for the hearing.

First Appearance Bonds in Domestic Violence Cases

Under Florida law, when a person is accused of any act of domestic violence, including domestic battery, domestic assault, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, violation of a protective order or restraining order, stalking, or aggravated stalking, the defendant must be held in jail until the defendant is brought before the judge at first appearance.

In order words, the defendant is not entitled to bond out prior to the first appearance court date according to a standard bond schedule amount.

At first appearance, the court will then set a bond amount and impose other conditions of release aimed at protecting the safety of the alleged victim, the alleged victim’s children, and any other person that might be in danger after the defendant’s arrest.

The court will usually impose special conditions of a bond, including a “no contact” provision which will prevent the accused from returning to his house or seeing his children until further order of the court.

If the alleged victim also appears in court to ask the court not to impose the “no contact” condition, the judge will usually agree and instead impose a no violent contact provision while the case is pending.

Likewise, if the alleged victim wishes to have contact after the initial first appearance hearing, an experienced attorney can put the case back before the judge on a motion to modify bond conditions to eliminate the no bond condition.

Never violate the “no contact provision” because it can result in your arrest and being held with no bond until your case is resolved.

First Appearance Bonds for Registered Sex Offenders or Predators in Florida

If the defendant is required to register as a sexual offender under s. 943.0435 or a sexual predator under s. 775.21, the defendant is not eligible for release on bail or surety bond until first appearance, even charges unrelated to a sex crime.

In these cases, the bond amount listed on the arrest warrant is usually listed as “to be set at first appearance.” See Section 903.046(2)(b), Fla. Stat.

Scheduling an Emergency Bail Hearing After First Appearance

If you have been arrested for any criminal offense, you are entitled to an emergency bond hearing, which can usually be scheduled within two business days.

Even if you are being held on a “no bond” warrant, that does not mean that you are not eligible for bond after an emergency bond hearing.

After your arrest in Hillsborough County, FL, the prosecutor with the State Attorney’s Office typically takes twenty-one (21) days to decide whether to file charges against you or not. This stage of the case is cased the Pre-File Stage.

During this time period, pre-file bond hearings are held in Division “O” or video court. Hillsborough County uses a uniform bond schedule.

At Sammis Law Firm, we represent clients in emergency bond hearings or bond reduction hearings in Hillsborough County and the surrounding areas. We also represent clients in bond hearings in Pinellas County.

Contact a Tampa criminal defense attorney today to discuss your bail bond issue.

Call 813-250-0500.

This article was last updated on Friday, August 5, 2023.