Frequently Asked Questions About Bail Bonds in Florida
After an arrest, you’ll likely be given an amount for bail—that is, how much it will cost to “bail you out of jail.” Depending on what you were arrested for, the bond amount could be for as little as $100 or for a lot more. If you are unable to pay the money yourself, you can ask others to help with the costs or seek a bail bond.
Here we’ll answer some frequently asked questions we get about the bonding process, and what you need to know if you find yourself in need of a bail bond. Contact Mike G Law if you are arrested. You can then be advised whether a bond reduction hearing is appropriate.
What Exactly Is “Bail?”
It’s the right of every American under the 8th Amendment to post a financial “deposit” as a guarantee that you will appear for your court dates. Bail is available for most charges except the most serious of crimes. If the judge believes you are a flight risk or a risk to the public, he or she can set a very high amount, or deny bail altogether.
Once you’re allowed to leave on bond, you can go back to work and take care of your family, rather than wait in jail for your court date. A court date could be as long as 45 days from the date of your arrest, or even longer.
What Is a Bail Bondsman?
A bail bondsman is a licensed and bonded agent who has met the educational requirements set out by an insurance company to write bail bonds for clients. The State of Florida defines one “as an individual appointed by an insurer by power of attorney to execute or countersign bail bonds in connection with judicial proceedings who receives or is promised money or other things of value, therefore.”
How Much Does a Bail Bond Cost in Florida?
The judge sets bail for you based on the charges and according to a set schedule. Each court system has its own bail schedule. The amount of bail depends on the severity of the crime for which you were arrested. A misdemeanor may be set at $250, whereas something like a DUI or drug possession will be considerably more.
What Does it Cost to Arrange a Bail Bond?
Florida sets the cost of a bail bond at 10% of your bond amount. For instance, if bail is set at $10,000, you will pay the bondsman $1,000 to secure your release. If the judge sets your bail at $1,000 or below, your minimum fee to the bondsman is $100. However, if you are charged with a federal crime, the fee is 15%. In addition, you may need to provide collateral as well. This can be in the form of your home or vehicle.
Who Can Arrange Bail in Florida?
If you are unable to pay the bail amount in court, a friend or relative can do it for you.
The individual who arranges your bond is called an “indemnitor,” and will be required to sign a promissory note as well as an indemnity agreement for the entire amount. He or she is responsible for making sure you make all of your court appearances. If you miss a court appearance, the indemnitor and bondsman will lose the bond money, as well as any collateral they posted for your bond.
What Can I Use for Collateral?
Generally, anything of value you can bring to a pawn shop, such as jewelry or precious metals, can be used as collateral. Real estate, cars, and other items of value can also be used to guarantee a bond. This ensures that the person issuing the bond will be able to recoup losses should you fail to make your court appearances. “Skipping bail,” especially on high-dollar bonds, has severe consequences for both you and your indemnitor. If he or she used a house for collateral, they will lose it to pay for your bond.
What if I Have No Collateral?
Many bail bondsmen have a signature bond that you can obtain with proper identification.
What Happens if I’m Unable to Make a Court Date?
If there are extenuating circumstances that cause you to miss a court date, such as an emergency hospital stay, you will need to notify your bail bondsman. The court will hopefully reschedule your court date for when you are able to attend. If you miss court regularly, you may have trouble later, especially if you fail to notify the court. At that point, the judge will issue a bench warrant for your arrest. As a fugitive, law enforcement will be looking for you, and your bail will be revoked. If they don’t find you, your co-signer will be liable for everything, and your bond will then be confiscated.
What About Court Costs?
Whatever the outcome, you will still owe court costs and fees. These are taken out of the bail bond you (or your relative) posts with the court.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Technically, you can represent yourself in court, but it is rarely (if ever) a good idea to do so. For all but the most minor of offenses, we highly recommend obtaining the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Even if you have questions about minor offenses, call our office for an appointment. We’ll be happy to talk with you about your case and answer your questions before your court date.
Is a Bail Bondsman an Attorney?
Usually, no—and they can’t give you legal advice beyond “you need to hire an attorney.” They are not even able to recommend a particular attorney.
You can choose the Tampa criminal defense attorney you want to represent you. Whomever you choose, you will need to give your bail bondsman your attorney’s contact information, and vice versa. It’s also important to stay in touch with both of them—it will keep you apprised of your case and demonstrate that you are serious about working with them to resolve your case.
What Should I Do If I Am Arrested?
The first thing you need to know is to exercise your right to remain silent! Beyond your name and contact information, once you tell the police that you want to speak to an attorney, all case-related conversations should stop. You have the right to know the details of why you’re being charged. You have a right to call someone, whether a friend, relative or your attorney for help. One of them can help arrange your bail bond to help you leave.
If you have been arrested or have a loved one who has been charged with a crime, seek qualified legal advice immediately! At Mike G Law, we strive to protect our clients’ rights throughout the criminal justice process. Whatever stage your case is at, call us as soon as possible!