The biggest issue any Criminal Defense lawyer faces during the holiday season is the phone calls we get from individuals whose friend or family member is in jail on a No Bond status. The common statement is “Get them out of jail before the holidays” or something to that effect. This is a great introduction to Florida Law as it relates to bail. In Florida persons who are arrested for a criminal offense are constitutionally entitled to a reasonable bond unless the charge is a capital felony or the charge is punishable by life in prison and the proof (of the crime) is evident and the presumption (of guilt) is great.
The first question that should arise is “What if my family member/friend gets a bond that is too high – what can I do?” Unfortunately sometimes individuals are given substantially higher bonds than are warranted for a case or the individual may not be able to afford whatever bond is set. At the Law Office of William S. Orth, I can file a Motion to Reduce Bond and set a hearing and I will cite the voluminous case law that states that if you incarcerate a person for a charge pre-conviction and set an unreasonable bond or a bond they cannot afford it is equal to setting No Bond which is unconstitutional.
The second question is whether the person is in jail on a new charge or whether they were arrested for a Violation of Probation (VOP) or Violation of Community Control (VOCC). While there is a constitutional guarantee for bail on most new charges there is no constitutional guarantee for bail on a VOP or VOCC. Yet if the person is in jail on a No Bond status for a VOP or VOCC, I can file a Motion to Set Bond and set a hearing on the Motion.
Now the issue comes back around to the relevance of all of this to the holidays. Unfortunately we all have busy lives and that includes judges. If you have a friend or family member incarcerated during the holiday season it is imperative that you talk to a Criminal Defense Attorney. Do not assume the person will get a bond or even a reasonable bond at their First Appearance hearing. If you assume and you are wrong there is a good change they will spend the rest of the holiday season in jail because hearing time is at a premium this time of year. Sometimes the issue can be fixed at the First Appearance hearing which is held 24-48 hours after arrest. Everyone arrested gets a First Appearance hearing. So do not hesitate to call me at the Law Office of William S. Orth.