Pretrial Release in Florida

July 06, 2015

When a person is charged with a crime, it can be a while before the trial. Both sides need time to gather evidence and prepare the prosecution and the defense. However, especially for minor crimes, defendants do not want to wait in jail for the trial. In Florida, pretrial release means that a defendant can stay out of jail while awaiting trial.

Types of Release

There are several types of pretrial release in Florida:

  • Monetary bond, meaning that the accused pays money, then gets it back if he or she shows up for the trial;
  • Monitored release, which involves the use of a monitoring device, such as an ankle monitor;
  • Supervised custody, in which the defendant is released to another’s custody, such as a responsible family member or a drug treatment center;
  • Pretrial release on the accused’s own recognizance, meaning that the defendant is released from jail without bond.

State law says that for nearly all crimes other than serious and violent crimes such as aggravated battery, child abuse, sexual battery, homicide, robbery, etc., the court should not condition release on monetary considerations. However, a majority of Florida’s counties primarily use monetary bond.

Eligibility

Before pretrial release may be granted, the pretrial release service must investigate and verify:

  • The nature of the crime,
  • The defendant’s prior criminal record,
  • The accused’s record of appearing at court proceedings and flight to avoid prosecution,
  • The accused’s character and mental condition,
  • The defendant’s employment and financial circumstances,
  • The duration of the accused’s residence in the community,
  • The accused’s family circumstances,
  • Any other necessary factors.

After examining those factors, the court must decide whether to grant pretrial release or require pretrial detention, meaning imprisonment before trial. The court can order pretrial detention if it finds a substantial probability that the defendant:

  • Has previously violated or is currently violating conditions of release,
  • Has threatened witnesses, the victim, jurors, or judicial officers,
  • Has trafficked in controlled substances,
  • Has committed DUI manslaughter and poses a threat to the community,
  • Poses a threat of harm to the community,
  • Was on probation, parole, or other release at the time the crime was committed,
  • Is a habitual offender.

Conditions

In any pretrial release, conditions of the release are imposed upon the defendant. For example, a court may require drug testing, ankle monitoring, a no contact order, or other requirements. Additionally, the accused must not commit any crimes during the pretrial release period.

If the court finds probable cause that a defendant has committed a crime while on pretrial release, the court can revoke the pretrial release and order pretrial detention, sending the defendant to jail. The court may also revoke the release if the defendant violates other conditions of the release.

Remaining in jail while you await a trial can be very detrimental. It can cause problems with employment, schooling, family relationships, and more. An experienced attorney can help you convince the court that you are not a flight risk or a danger to the community, and that you should be released from jail until your trial. If you have been arrested for or charged with a crime, please contact West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney William Wallshein for a free initial consultation.