Release on Bail or Bond
– by Your Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney, Daniel J. Fernandez
If you have been arrested for a state of Florida offense you are entitled to a bond hearing. You may be eligible for release on your own recognizance or in the alternative, reduction of bail.
Florida law provides that “every person charged with a crime . . . shall be entitled to pretrial release on reasonable conditions,” Art. I, § 14, Florida Constitution, subject to two exceptions. The first exception is the pretrial detention exception: “if no conditions of release can reasonably protect the community from risk of physical harm to persons, assure the presence of the accused at trial, or assure the integrity of the judicial process, the accused may be detained.” Art. I, § 14, Florida Constitution. The second exception is the capital or life offense exception: pretrial release may be denied to an accused who is “charged with a capital offense or an offense punishable by life imprisonment and the proof of guilt is evident or the presumption is great. . . .” Art. I, § 14, Florida Constitution.
Before release on bail pending trial can ever be denied to an accused charged with a capital offense or an offense punishable by life imprisonment, the State must come forward with a showing that the proof of guilt is evident or the presumption is great. In a capital case or a case involving life imprisonment where the accused is seeking to be admitted to bail, the State has the burden of proof on the issue of whether the proof of guilt is evident and the presumption great.
The State’s burden, in order to foreclose bail as a matter of right, is to present some evidence which, viewed in a light most favorable to the state, would be legally sufficient to sustain a jury verdict of guilty.
The Degree of Proof Required Before Pretrial Bail May Be Denied in a Capital or Life Felony Case:
The Constitution allows the denial of bail in capital offenses only where the proof is evident or the presumption great. It is not sufficient to justify a denial of bail in such cases that the evidence establish merely a probability of guilt.
Article I, Section 14 of the Florida Constitution provides:
Until adjudged guilty, every person charged with a crime or violation of municipal or county ordinance shall be entitled to release on reasonable bail with sufficient surety unless charged with a capital offense or an offense punishable by life imprisonment and the proof of guilt is evident or the presumption is great.
Where a defendant is not charged with a capital offense or offense punishable by life imprisonment, he is entitled to bail. A defendant is also entitled to reasonable bail which brings into focus the financial condition of the defendant. Depending upon the financial circumstances of the defendant, excessive bail is tantamount to no bail.
In addition to the defendant’s financial circumstances, there are numerous criteria to be considered in setting bail and each case is dependent upon its individual facts. Factors to be considered in determining the amount of bail include the nature of the offense and the penalty for it, the character and strength of the evidence or probability of guilt, the probability of the accused appearing at trial, his accessibility to means of flight, his family ties and employment, the length and stability of his residence in the community, the prior record of the accused in responding to process, whether the accused was a fugitive from justice when arrested, whether the accused is under bond for appearance at trial in other cases, his respect for the law, the accused’s character and reputation, and the state of his health.
Section 903.046, Florida Statutes provides that the purpose of bail is to ensure the appearance of the criminal defendant at subsequent proceedings and to protect the community against unreasonable danger from the criminal defendant. The statute lists criteria which should be taken into consideration in evaluating a request for bail or bond reduction. Further, Rule 3.131, Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure states that the judicial officer shall impose the first condition of release enumerated in the rule which will reasonably protect the community from risk of physical harm to persons, assure the presence of the accused at trial, or assure the integrity of the judicial process. Excessive bail is tantamount to a denial of bail.
Bail is basic to our system of law. Doubts whether it should be granted or denied should always be resolved in favor of the defendant.
If you have been charged with a State of Florida offense you may be entitled to release from incarceration pending trial. Criminal defense attorney Daniel J. Fernandez can help guide you through the process.
If the State cannot show that you are a danger to the community or a flight risk you may be entitled release on personal recognizance or bond or conditionally release. Contact a criminal defense lawyer and request a bond hearing. Our firm has represented clients in bond hearings. Many of these hearings have resulted in release on personal recognizance or bond or conditionally release.
If you have been arrested for a State of Florida offense in the Tampa Bay area and would like to be released from incarceration while awaiting trial, call Tampa criminal defense lawyer Daniel J. Fernandez of Fernandez & Hernandez for a free consultation now.
Call Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney, Daniel J. Fernandez of Fernandez & Hernandez at 813-229-5353 or read more at: CriminalDefenseLawyerTampa.com
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