Man Denied Release In Zimmerman Shooting
A Seminole County judge ruled that a 38-year-old man convicted of firing a gun at George Zimmerman must stay in jail while his case is appealed.
After a jury convicted the man of armed aggravated assault, attempted second-degree murder, and shooting into a vehicle, the circuit judge levied the minimum penalty under the law, which is twenty years in prison. According to testimony at trial, the man fired a handgun at George Zimmerman’s car while the two were on Lake Mary Boulevard in Sanford. The bullet lodged in the frame of Mr. Zimmerman’s passenger-side window, and the prosecutor said that if the bullet had been five inches lower it would have struck Mr. Zimmerman in the head. The two men have had multiple altercations since Mr. Zimmerman was acquitted of murder in the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
Earlier, the man’s pretrial release had been revoked because he allegedly urinated on a neighbor’s door. The judge cited that incident, as well as the dangerous nature of the offense, when remanding the man into custody.
Pretrial Release in Florida
The Sunshine State has two legal presumptions when it comes to pretrial release. If the defendant is charged with robbery, burglary, aggravated assault, homicide, domestic violence, or any other “dangerous crime” listed in 907.041(4)(a), the defendant must normally be detained after arrest, because of the risk to public safety. In all other offenses, including simple battery, DUI, and most non-violent crimes, there is a presumption in favor of monetary release.
In bail-eligible cases, the county’s pretrial release service normally interviews the defendant and makes a recommendation as to bail. The investigation covers a wide range of topics, including the defendant’s criminal history (including any history of failure to appear), family circumstances, financial status, connections to the community, and ability to flee the jurisdiction. Once that recommendation is on file, an initial cash bail amount is set. In most cases, if the defendant cannot post the entire amount, a bonding company will post bail after it receives a premium, which is normally 10 percent.
In addition to the money, there are normally conditions of bond. Some are relatively standard, such as not committing any other offenses before trial, and others vary on the circumstances, such as a requirement that the defendant attend counselling sessions.
The pretrial release assessment and initial bond setting usually occur within a few hours of arrest. If the defendant remains in custody, there must be an arraignment within five days. At this hearing, an attorney can ask for a bail reduction that enables the defendant to be released pending trial.
At this hearing, a different presumption applies, because the Constitution’s Eighth Amendment forbids “excessive bail” in criminal cases, and if the defendant remains incarcerated, there is basically a presumption that the bail is excessive. While the arraignment judge gives considerable deference to the presumptions in the state statute, the judge must also consider the following questions:
- Previous violations of court-supervised release, including pretrial release, probation, and parole violations,
- Threats to witnesses or other principles involved in the case, and
- Threats to public safety, such as DUI manslaughter and certain drug trafficking offenses.
Bail is not a means of punishment, but rather a means to guarantee the defendant’s appearance at trial and protect public safety.
Contact Assertive Attorneys
Pretrial release is an important part of complete representation. For a free consultation with an aggressive criminal defense lawyer in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.