If a loved one, a friend or a relative has been arrested, and you want to get them out of jail, there are some important things you need to know about pre- trial release. First, and most importantly, they have to be eligible for release. If they have been arrested on a probation violation, chances are, the judge has already entered a “no bond” order. For most crimes, there is a “bond schedule” at the jail and the amounts are set by the seriousness of the offense. For other crimes, the more serious felonies, the person arrested in Sarasota or Manatee County will have to appear before a judge within 24 hours to have bond set. This is done at what is referred to as a “first appearance”. It is really important to have an experienced lawyer at first appearance because it can make a huge difference in the amount of the bond. It can make the difference between getting out and sitting for weeks or months in jail.
Should I call a bail bondsman?
If a bond has already been set, you have two choices. Most people really only have one. You can post the bond in cash. This way there is no bond premium and when the case is over, all the money is returned. For most people, they do not have that much money and they choose to use a bondsman. A bondsman charges a 10% fee, called a “premium” to write a bond guaranteeing the appearance of the person arrested in Court later. If it is a Federal case, the premium is set at 15%. Some serious cases can drag on for a year or more and if you post the bond in cash, your money is tied up in the Courts. Most people use a bondsman. If you use a bondsman, most bondmen will require that you put up “collateral” in the form of something they can go against if the person fails to appear in Court. It can be a car title, a mortgage on property, an assignment on a savings account or some other asset. Some bondsmen will write a bond with no collateral if they know the person has ties to the community and is likely to appear. Some will not.
What if the bond is too high?
If a bond has already been set and it is too high, a bond reduction hearing is necessary. You really need a good criminal lawyer to get a good reduction. It usually takes a few days to get a hearing set so the sooner you have an attorney on board, the better. At the hearing, family members can testify, the defendant’s background will be considered and sometimes the lack of strength of the case will be reviewed. Getting the bond reduced can save you a lot of money when the bond is posted. It is for that reason that hiring an experience criminal attorney usually comes before hiring a bondsman. The Public Defender will eventually get around to filing a bond reduction hearing but that may be days or weeks. In the meantime a person can lose their job, their apartment, their car, their pets or their kids. Time is important in criminal matters. Private criminal defense lawyers generally work faster and are more motivated to get your loved one out. A private lawyer may also contact the prosecutor and convince them to agree to a reasonable bond without a hearing thus getting them out quicker. The sooner you hire the lawyer, the better.
What if it is a Federal Case?
Federal Court is different. There are no Federal judges in Sarasota or Bradenton. The nearest Federal Courts are in Tampa, Fort Myers and Orlando. In Federal Court a person has to be brought before a judge and the judge will determine whether or not they can be released. It is not automatic and for most serious federal felonies, the United States Attorney will request pre- trial detention. This means the Government will oppose release and try the keep the person in federal custody until trial. There will be a pre- trial detention hearing before a United States Magistrate and having a lawyer experienced in federal law and procedure is critical. Not all lawyers practice in Federal Court. Peter Aiken is a former federal prosecutor and had been in Federal Court hundreds if not thousands of times. He knows the issues the judges consider in setting bond and he knows how to fight against pre-trial detention. He has also tried cases in Federal Court in Tampa and Fort Meyers and is experienced in getting people released pending trial. If you interview an attorney ask him how many cases he has actually tried in Federal Court? As a former federal agent and former assistant United States Attorney, Peter Aiken has “been there, done that” for over thirty years. He knows the Government’s play book inside out and will anticipate their moves and actions most times in advance. If you have been subpoenaed before a Federal Grand jury or have received a target letter, call immediately. Do not wait until federal agents show up at your door
Call 941 366 3506 for a free consultation