Sean C. O’Halloran Aiken and O’Halloran Criminal Defense Law Office Fort Myers 239-334-8890 Sarasota 941-366-3506
January 31 2020
How do I post bond for a friend or relative in Ft. Myers?
If you are reading this, it is probably because a loved one or a relative has been arrested. Many people do not understand how the bail bond system works and reading this can save you some serious money.
When a person gets arrested, unless it is a really serious crime, they are entitled to be released on bond pending disposition of their court case. There is a “bond schedule” setting amounts for different offenses and if you call the jail, they will tell you the bond amount. For some offenses, the person cannot immediately bond out, and in that case, they have to be taken before a judge within 24 hours for what is called an initial appearance. Whether or not to immediately post bond is an important decision. Your loved one will be calling you frantically saying “Get me out…get me out”. If it is a serious case it is critical that you talk to good criminal defense lawyer before you make the decision on bond. You may lose a lot of money if you make a hasty decision..
Here is how bond works. You can post bond at the jail if you have the money. If it is a low bond, and you have the money on hand, it is easy. If it is a big bond you really need to talk to a lawyer first. The lawyer may be able to get the bond reduced and it may cost you much less.
You might be contacted by a bondsman over the telephone. They watch the arrests and they want the business. A bondsman in Florida charges a 10% (ten percent fee) called a premium to write and post a “bond” that guarantees the person will appear. Many times, that is the quickest and easiest way and there are lots of good reputable bondsmen. For example, if the bond is $1500, it will cost you a $150 fee to get someone out. If the bond is huge, $50,000 for example, it can cost you $5000 just for the bondsman’s “fee” and you don’t get that money back at the end of the case. If it is a big bond, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to get it “reduced” in a bond reduction hearing. For example, if the $50,000 bond got reduced to $10,000 you would pay a $1000 fee to the bondsman, instead of $5000 and you would save you $4000.
If a person was on probation when they got arrested on a new charge, you may be wasting money by bonding them out immediately. You may pay the bondsman the fee, only to find out the next day your loved one is rearrested on a probation violation with no bond set. In that case, you will have totally wasted the fee paid to the bondsman.
A good criminal defense attorney may be able to save you enough money on the bond to pay a lot of his fee. Many people in desperation spend all of their money on bail bond and then have no money to hire a lawyer and end up with the Public Defender. That is a huge mistake.
Many times having a lawyer at the “initial appearance” can make a huge difference. It may result in “pre trial release” with no monetary bond. In that case, it costs you nothing for bond.
In domestic violence cases, having a defense lawyer at the initial appearance may keep the judge from imposing very restrictive conditions such as “no contact” with a spouse.
If a relative has been arrested, your first call should be to the lawyer. Know your options before you make a bad decision.