The majority of crimes in the state of Florida are entitled to pretrial release. This means that most of the crimes are bondable offenses. In other words, a criminal surety bond can be posted and the person just arrested will be released from jail while they await their trial date.
A bond may be able to be posted immediately depending on the crime charged at the time of the arrest. If the crime is not immediately bondable, the person arrested will remain in jail but will be brought before a judge within 24 hours of their arrest for First Appearance. At First Appearance, a judge will review the case and set a bond amount.
The bond amount that the judge sets in the case will depend on several factors including, but not limited to, prior criminal history, prior failure to appear at court dates, the facts of the case (as set forth by the probable cause affidavit, commonly referred to as a police report), and the arrested person’s ties to the community. Keep in mind that First Appearance is neither the time nor the place to fight the allegations in the case. The purpose of First Appearance is to set a bond that will ensure the arrested person’s appearance at future court dates and to protect the community. Once a judge sets a bond amount, the bond may be posted.
The bond amount may be posted in its entirety or a bondsman may be used. If a bondsman is used, the bondsman will pay for the entire amount and will only require ten percent of the total bond amount from you. For example, if a judge set bond in a case for $10,000.00, then the entire $10,000.00 bond would have to be posted before a person would be released from custody of the jail. This means that if you do not use a bondsman, you will have to pay the entire $10,000.00 before the person would be released from jail. If a bondsman is used, then the bondsman will require only $1,000.00 (ten percent of the $10,000.00 bond). The bondsman will pay the entire $10,000.00 of the bond to have the person released from custody. Once the bond is posted, the entire amount of the posted bond will be held until the case is resolved. Cases can last for several months, and the total bond amount posted will be held for that entire period.
After the bond is posted, the person will be released from jail. Even after the bond is posted, it will take several hours before the person is released from jail. This time varies depending on how backed up the jail is. When the person is released from custody, they will be responsible for attending their next court date. If there are misdemeanor charges, then the next court date will be an arraignment. If there are felony charges, then the next court date will be a State to File date.
A State to File date is the date in which the prosecutors will announce whether or not they will formally file charges against the person that was arrested. A State to File date will only occur on felony cases. If the prosecution does not file charges against the arrested person on the State to File date, then the arrestee’s bond will be discharged and they will be released on their own recognizance.
It is important to keep in mind that the State to File date will only affect the bond status. It does not otherwise substantively affect the case. Just because the prosecution does not file formal charges on the State to File date does not mean the case is over forever. The prosecution can always file charges later up until the statute of limitations has run its course. The statute of limitations most crimes is over a year and varies depending on the crime.
An arraignment is a court date where the formal charges are read in open court against you. Then, in open court, you have the ability to enter a plea of not guilty. An arraignment is a mere formality that allows people to know what they are charged with and provides the opportunity to publicly state they are not guilty. As an arraignment is a formality, attorneys have the ability to waive arraignment and enter a written plea of not guilty. Whether or not arraignment should be waived is a strategic decision your attorney should make that varies depending on the individual case.
A case disposition is a hearing for the judge to check on a case. Sometimes, there will be an exchange of discovery at the case disposition or it will be an opportunity for the lawyers to discuss the status of the case. At a case disposition, the lawyers will usually let the judge know the status of the case and how they want to proceed going forward. For instance, a lawyer may ask for another Case Disposition Hearing, a Plea Conference, or a Calendar Call.
A Calendar Call Hearing is where the lawyers tell the judge whether or not they are ready for a trial in the case. If they are not ready, then they will tell the judge why they are not ready and will request a continuance. If they are ready, then they will ask the Judge to set the case for a trial date.