What Happens at a Bond Hearing?
Everybody wants out of jail, but not everybody can afford to get out. Even if you can afford to get out, sometimes it makes sense to save some money on the bondsman by having an attorney file a Motion to Reduce Bond. And I'm here to tell you what happens at these bond reduction hearings.
Basically, we attorneys present a few witnesses and we're going to ask some questions at that bond hearing. For example, I'll be calling my client to the witness stand, he'll probably be in the jury box but you know, we'll need to present the judge some information to help the judge make an informed bond reduction decision. We're going to talk about family. We're going to talk about jobs. I'll want the judge to know, look judge, we've got a lot of family here in town. You can reduce this bond and my client isn't going anywhere.
We also want to talk about finances. If the judge knows my client has a million dollars in the bank, why reduce this bond? We have to tell the judge, look, he cannot afford this amount of bond.
And, we'll have some family members come to court and tell the judge that they'll see to it that he gets to his court dates.
These sorts of things are what we're going to ask, and what we're going to talk about at a bond hearing. It's a simple hearing, it doesn't take too long.
The judge is going to want to know about any prior criminal history and the strength of the evidence. Is it a good case for us? Then the bond is going to go lower. If it's a bad case for the state, then the bond will not go so low.
I do want to talk about a real life case, happened right here in Central Florida, Sylvester v. State of Florida, 175 So.3d 813 (Fla 5th DCA 2014). Sylvester was charged with three counts of grand theft in the first degree. Now, grand theft in the first degree means he was accused of stealing over $100,000 of something.
The bond amount for Sylvester totaled $750,000. And when you think about that, bondsmen charge 10% so the bondsman was going to get $75,000. So, Sylvester could not afford to give this bondsman $75,000 so Sylvester did the right thing and hired a lawyer to get his bond reduced. The bond reduction was granted. But the court only reduced his bond to $600,000 total, down from the $750,000.
Sylvester did save some money on this bond reduction because it would have cost him $75,000 to get out, now it only cost him $60,000 to get out. That's a $15,000 savings for just one bond motion which is great. But, that wasn't a big enough reduction.
So the defense attorney for Sylvester appealed the judge's ruling to the higher court, the Fifth District Court of Appeals here in Daytona. In Daytona, the appellate judges agreed and said look, you didn't go far enough reducing the bond to only $600,000. Because yes, $750,000 was too high, but $600,000 was also too high (his bond was eventually reduced to only $15,000, meaning he only needed to pay a bondsman $1,500).
Also, what the appellate court wanted everybody to know is that--just because you cannot afford the bond doesn't mean the court must reduce the bond. It doesn't make the bond excessive or unreasonable because you can't afford it.
What I like to do is look at the county's bond schedule. It's a list that says "if you are arrested for this, your bond should be this." And bond schedules can be used in that way, to help reduce a bond.
So I recommend that you get a good local attorney that knows the judge, that knows the bond schedules in town. Get that bond reduced. Save yourself some money. Save yourself some aggravation. Take Care.