May 19 2017
Most people live their entire life without ever needing a bondsman or a criminal defense lawyer.
Most people never get arrested and most family members never have to deal with getting someone released from jail.
Unfortunately though, occasionally a husband, wife, brother, sister or son or daughter will call from the Lee County jail in the middle of the night with bad news.
Did you ever notice how a call in the middle of the night is bad news?
If a loved one is arrested, they are supposed to be given access to a telephone to call a lawyer or a relative. Sometimes that does not happen for hours or days. In Ft Myers, in Lee County, there are bondsmen that regularly monitor arrests as a way of getting business. They will look up a person’s relatives, and call them at night, offering to write a bail bond to get them released. That may or may not be a good thing. Often, at first appearance, for minor offenses, the person is going to be released on “pre-trial release” at no cost at all. Bondsmen are actually agents for Surety companies (an insurance company). By Florida law they are required to charge a 10% fee (a premium) to write a guarantee that the person will show up. Most bondsmen will also require “collateral” (a guarantee) that they will get paid if the person does not show up. If the bond set is huge, this can be a lot of money. For example, if the bond is $100,000 the fee is $10,000. Many people spend all of their money on bond and then cannot afford a really good criminal defense lawyer. Sometimes you are much better off to talk to an experienced criminal lawyer first.
Often the lawyer can get the bond reduced and save you lots of bucks.
Bondsmen are not supposed to recommend a particular defense attorney.
The reality is that some bondsmen here in Lee County ignore this law and are hooked up with particular defense attorneys. Some of the bondsmen will even take a person out on bond without being contacted and then demand the premium with the threat of putting them back in jail.
My recommendation is to talk to a reputable criminal defense lawyer first.
Lawyers are regulated much more when it comes to ethics and honesty.
When it comes to finding a good lawyer, do your homework.
Do not rely on advertising alone.
Some lawyers make claims that are simply exaggerated or not true. Look into the lawyer’s education, background and experience.
How long has he been defending cases?
Does he have genuine experience?
Is he just a “referral lawyer” from out of town referring cases to a local lawyer?