Some Basics About Pretrial Release In Florida
The money-based pretrial release system has undergone a lot of scrutiny lately. Over 60 percent of the jail inmates in Port St. Lucie are unsentenced and awaiting trial. In most cases, they simply lack the money necessary to make bail. To many, especially if the defendant is jailed for a nonviolent offense, that’s the equivalent of an illegal debtors’ prison.
In response to these concerns, many states have revisited their money-based pretrial release symptoms. But in Florida, the procedure is largely unchanged. Pretrial release is very important in criminal cases. Incarcerated inmates cannot work to support their families, cannot participate in their own defenses, and do not get the full benefit of the presumption of innocence.
Initial Procedure in Port St. Lucie
When a defendant is arrested, the sheriff or other custodial agency sets a presumptive bail amount. Most people either post that amount in cash or arrange for a surety bond within a few hours.
Legally, if a defendant is charged with a non-capital crime, the defendant must typically see a judge within twenty-four hours of arrest. If the state cannot produce a valid arrest affidavit by that time, the judge will release the defendant on his/her own recognizance. If the paperwork is in order, the judge decides if the pre-set bail amount is reasonable or not. Some factors in this decision include:
- Severity of the Offense: Generally, more serious charges merit larger bail requirements. In fact, unless the defendant is charged with a dangerous crime, there is a presumption in favor of non-monetary release. The list of “dangerous crimes” includes most violent and sex crimes.
- Ties to the Community: People with jobs and families are presumably less likely to flee the jurisdiction. So, it should be easier for these individuals to receive lenient pretrial release conditions.
- Amount of Evidence: Some generalizations apply here as well. A defendant might be inclined to stay and fight if the case is largely circumstantial.
- Threat to the Community: This threat could be indirect, such as the nature of the crime. But sometimes, there are direct threats as well. Some people threaten witnesses or parties in the case; others are charged with something reckless and dangerous, like DUI manslaughter.
At the first appearance hearing, an attorney can overcome some of these objections by proposing non-monetary conditions. Some common ones include electronic monitoring, an ignition interlock device, or a protective order.
Presumptively, defendants are ineligible for pretrial release in capital cases. A lawyer can overcome this presumption by pointing out that the evidence against the defendant is weak or the defendant is not a flight risk.
Pretrial Detention in Florida
Notwithstanding the above analysis, a Port St. Lucie judge may remand a defendant into custody under a number of circumstances, including:
- Previous violation of pretrial release conditions, such as a new offense,
- The defendant was on probation or parole for a dangerous crime,
- The charges include certain specific offenses, such as DUI manslaughter, drug trafficking, or domestic violence, and there are other aggravating factors.
Moreover, in general, probation violation is not a bailable offense in Port St. Lucie.
Connect With Assertive Lawyers
Pretrial release is not an absolute right in Florida. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. Home and jail visits are available.