Gain Clearer Insights Into the Florida Bail Bonding Process
Frequently Asked Questions
Sorry, folks, but bounty hunters and bounty hunting are 100% ILLEGAL in the state of Florida! Florida outlawed it many years ago, so if anyone claims to be a bounty hunter, they do not do it in Florida. It is kidnapping. I know most of you have seen T.V. shows like Dog the Bounty Hunter, but chasing down people is only a very small part of the bail bond business. In order for someone to arrest a fugitive, they must be a licensed bail bond agent—period.
With each bond, we must by (state law) and charge a 10% premium for bonds $1000 or over and a minimum of $100 for any bond under $1000. Most people do not have the full amount to post cash for bail, so they use a bonding service, and the service puts up the full amount in the form of a surety bond for the defendant’s release and guarantees their appearance in court. By doing so, we must charge a fee. Sometimes, even this can be difficult, so many bonding agents will sometimes do a separate promissory note for premium, but remember, the full amount of the 10% will have to be paid no matter the outcome or the length of the case. For instance, you bond someone out and make payment arrangements with the bondsman, and their case gets dropped or they get rearrested and cannot bond out. The premium still has to be paid by state law. Not charging the full amount of the premium will violate Florida law, and we can be charged criminally. Premium is non-refundable.
Sometimes, it is difficult to come up with the full 10% of the premium, payment plans are available at no interest and are not based on your credit. You will be required to sign a separate contract, and no matter the outcome of the case, it MUST be fulfilled. Again, they are on a case by case basis.
This is a contract that must be signed for every defendant for any bond posted and is required by law. It is an agreement between you and the bondsman that you will fulfill the contract and either make the person go to court or promise to pay the full amount of the bond along with any other costs involved in returning the defendant to jail. By signing, you assume legal and financial responsibility for this person. Once the defendant has been sentenced and the bond is discharged, you are no longer responsible for that person. For instance, they get sentenced to probation, must pay fines, and complete classes. The bond does not guarantee that, so do not think just because you bond them out, you are also responsible for those costs too.
Don't panic! It happens, and there are several different options you have. The first thing to do is contact the bondsman. Do not worry, we are not going to come and get you and throw you in jail immediately, and the police are not going to be at your door right then. We can usually get you a new court date scheduled to address the failure to appear without you going back to jail. Remember, we know the right people to contact to help you. If all else fails, we can turn you in and bond you back out in a walk-through. I think it is good business to work with you rather than put you back in jail. Our job is to get you out and try to keep you out. As long as you keep in contact with us, we will exhaust every resource we have to help you.
Collateral is not always necessary. It depends on the charge and defendant's history. Collateral is used to secure a bond. Let’s say an individual has a $1000 bond and collateral is required. That means you pay the premium of $100 and put up something worth $1000+ with the bondsman and it is held for the length of their case. Once the case is finished and the bond is discharged and released, the collateral will be returned to the indemnitor ONLY. If the defendant should miss any court date, the bond becomes forfeited, and the defendant does not attempt to work with the bondsman (See: What if I miss a court date?), then you, the indemnitor, must surrender the defendant to the bondsman, jail, or law enforcement. If that cannot be done, you may swap out the collateral with cash. If not, the bondsman will liquidate the collateral into cash to pay and satisfy the court. Please remember that there are many options as long as you work with the bondsman. Rest assured that when putting up collateral, any reputable bonding company cannot do as he pleases with it. There are laws we must follow in order to convert your collateral and that is why we do contracts to protect you. Also, most bondsmen will do everything possible to get the collateral returned to you and would rather try every other avenue or put the defendant in jail rather than you lose your collateral. It is very rare that we have to liquidate collateral. Collateral is determined on a case by case basis.
If you think you have a warrant, possible VOP (Violation of Probation), or anything else for that matter, we can help. All you need to do is call us, give us as much information as possible, and we will find out if you have a warrant and come up with a solution to help with the process. It gives you time to come up with the bond money, collateral if needed, and indemnitor to sign for your bond. Our position is to help you get everything in order and when you are ready, we turn you in and post your bond right away. Most of the time, you never leave the holding cell at the jail, except to leave.
THIS SUMMARY IS IN REFERENCE TO THE LAWS CONCERNING THE COMMUNITY SUPERVISION PROGRAM, AN EXPANSION OF PRETRIAL RELEASE (PTR).
This program operates under an administrative order 93-115-CR using Florida statutes 907.41(1)(3) and 948.09(1)(3)(6). It allows PTR to recommend community supervision to the initial appearance judge, which consists of the accused being released, having to pay a sign-up fee, pay a weekly monitoring fee, and report to a community supervision officer. The defendant is also required to take and pay for random urinalysis testing, regardless of the charge. The community supervision officer can also violate the accused for not paying or complying in which a warrant is issued requiring the incarceration at the taxpayer's expense. This expansion was not fully utilized (because of its questionable legality) until the year 2000 when Article 5 was passed down and the budget was compromised. Upon an in-depth review and research, this program is very flawed and is a direct violation of the Florida Constitution and Florida Statutes regarding the criminal procedure of the pretrial detention and release, and here is why.
The Pretrial Release Program 907 in the state of Florida is designed to be NONMONETARY as adopted from the Supreme Court. Statute 948.09 is for the Department of Corrections dealing with post-conviction laws. These two statutes deal with two opposite parts of criminal procedure.
Florida statute 903.11 defines the term bail and bond to include any form of pre-trial release and state 648.24 states the Bonds in which fees are charged must be done by a licensed bail bond agent. 648.25 define a bail bond agency as an entity that charges a fee or premium to release an accused or detainee from jail. By charging any type of fee, the company acts in the capacity of a bail bond agent and statute 648.30 classifies that as a third-degree felony. This program also violates the Florida Constitution Article 1 Section 19, which says no person charged with a crime has to pay any cost until a judgment of conviction. A private company runs Brevard's Pre-Trial Release Program & Community Supervision Program but Statute 948.01(1)(A) states that a private entity may not provide any type of court supervision. 939.06 also states that a person found not guilty or acquitted be refunded any fees paid to the court. 949.049(3) deals with nonpayment being a violation of probation. Statute 907.043(B) says the term pretrial release program shall not apply to the Department of Corrections. Yet these are the statutes they base their program on. The process in which any type of release can be done is already in place. Two statutes cannot be pieced together and called a new program without going through the legislative process. The Jail Oversight Committee also utilizes this program by releasing detainees after an initial appearance in which a judge requires monitory release and not complying with 903.035(2) & 903.02 which requires all felony bond modifications to be done at a hearing and that only the judge whom set bonds the chief judge or the trial judge for that case misdemeanor or felony can review and modify bond. The laws of this state are very clear that this is not allowed. Florida statute 57.051 states that only amounts approved by law can be charged by an officer. This program is not approved by law so the amounts are not approved and the officer must repay 4 times the amount if illegally collected.
The findings are that the Florida statutes and constitution does not allow this type of release. The statutes are not being applied in which they were intended. This company is acting in the capacity of a bail bond agent and imposing post-conviction laws and statutes and illegally charging a fee that is not allowed. Surety is the only one statutorily permitted to charge. The program also violates the accused rights by being put on probation without due process and only post-conviction law allows charging for drug testing or monitoring. Some of the conditions of this program sometimes require more than the conviction would require. As a matter of fact, Brevard is the only county out of the 67 counties in Florida that uses this type of program and only 29 counties of the 67 have a Pretrial Release Program. The big question is why and how does this program exist and continue to run. The laws and constitution of this state are very clear on which an accused can be released to protect the rights of all citizens in the criminal proceeding. Community supervision does not have the qualifications or any authority approved by the state of Florida to charge or supervise any accused. It cannot operate under these statutes or any other in the state of Florida.