What is the purpose of setting bond?
The goal of bond is to:
- Ensure the defendant’s continued presence at future court dates;
- Protect not only the victim, but the safety of the community at large; and
- Uphold the integrity of the judicial process.
Although many people may be inclined to think of bond as a punishment, it is important to remember that defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty. Bond is not a punishment, but a system to allow defendants to retain some of their freedom as they await trial, while making sure they show up for their court dates and that the community remains safe.
Am I eligible for bond?
Florida Statutes and the Florida Constitution provide that, with few exceptions, there is a presumption that reasonable conditions of release can be imposed while meeting the above-mentioned goals of bond. In other words, the courts by default must allow defendants to be released on bail, unless they can point to specific reasons to decide otherwise.
What can keep me from being eligible for bond?
The presumption that a defendant should be released on bond does not apply to those charged with capital offenses (offenses punishable by death) or offenses punishable by life sentences. If you find yourself charged with any crime that falls under these categories, the judge is not required to consider allowing you to be released on bail. In addition, if a defendant has already been released on bail and is charged with violating a new crime, it is in the court’s discretion to decide whether or not to allow the defendant to be released on bail again.
Otherwise, when a judge is deciding whether or not to withhold bail, or what conditions of bail to set, the Florida Statutes require judges to consider a number of factors, including:
- The nature and circumstances of the charge
- The weight of the evidence against the defendant
- The defendant’s family ties and length of residence in the community, employment history, financial resources, and mental conditions.
- The defendant’s past and prior conduct, including criminal convictions and prior flight from court
- The nature and probable danger to the community (note this is not the individual victim)
- The source of funds used to post bond
- Whether the defendant is currently already on probation or parole
- Any other relevant factors