Our law firm sometimes gets calls from people asking if they should bond their friend or loved one out before first appearance. While this is absolutely not meant as advice unique to your legal situation, I would like to point out a few things to consider if you are considering bonding someone. Please call our office to discuss your unique situation.
In most cases, within 24 hours after an arrest, if the person has not bonded out, they are brought before a judge for first appearance.
What is a "standard bond?"
For most criminal charges there is a "standard bond" that is automatically set by the jail if there has been no bond previously set by a judge. In other words, when one is arrested they will (for most charges) have a standard bond amount set by the jail. If that person does not bond out, they are brought to first appearance where a judge will review the police report and listen to argument from the prosecutor and the defense attorney, and possibly (usually in most cases) change the bond.
What charges have no standard bond (or a $0 "standard bond")?
There are certain charges where the "standard bond" is automatically set at $0. In other words: the person will not be able to bond out of jail before first appearance. If a $0 bond is set, the person has no choice—he or she will be brought before a judge at first appearance who will review the case and possibly set a bond. They can then possibly bond after first appearance, if a bond other than $0 was set.
The charges that carry a $0 standard bond in Sarasota, Manatee, and Desoto Counties are (this is a non-exhaustive list, please call our office for information regarding your particular charge): Certain DUI's where there is injury, domestic stalking, domestic battery, violation of an injunction for protection against violence, murder, aggravated assault, felony battery, kidnapping, aggravated battery, false imprisonment, lewd and lascivious molestation, sexual battery, arson, burglary with a battery, robbery, home invasion, drug trafficking, felony violation of probation (vop), and failure to appear for a court date. (Once again, there are other charges that have a $0 bond, please call if you have a question about a particular charge.)
What is the "standard bond" for my friend or loved one's charge?
The standard bond schedule is 14 pages long. Please call our office at (941) 444-5128 and we will be happy to tell you what the standard bond is for any charge.
What are some things that the judge will consider in setting a bond?
Generally, a judge will consider a person's criminal history, the amount of "failures to appear" for prior court dates (if any), the persons "ties to the community," and the facts contained in the police report. Generally, the judge is concerned with two main issues: will this person show up for their court dates and is this person possibly a danger to the community?
So, should I bond my friend or family member before first appearance?
Remember that if a person is brought to first appearance a judge will review the police report and listen to argument from the prosecutor and defense attorneys and possibly change the bond. In some cases this may benefit the person. For instance, if there is nothing aggravating in the police report and the person has no prior crimes and resides in Sarasota, perhaps the bond will be lowered.
On the other hand, if the person has prior crimes and/or does not have ample ties to Sarasota County (or the local area), and/or if there are aggravating facts in the police report, a judge may significantly raise the bond. In this case, it is likely best to bond before first appearance.
Once again, the facts of each case are entirely unique. This post is meant to give you a basic idea of how first appearance works. Please do not rely on any information here without discussing it with a competent criminal attorney. Please feel free to call us to discuss your case.