When Will I Get out of Jail?

Mandatory Detention on Domestic Violence Charges

When a person is arrested on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, the case is sent to the Domestic Violence Division (DVD) of the County Court. Domestic violence offenses are primarily assaults or batteries, stalking, and violation of injunctions between husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends, people who live together, or people who have a child together. Laws applying only to domestic violence offenses require the defendant to remain in jail until the first appearance hearing. The defendant will not be allowed to post bond until after the hearing. For the schedule and location of First Appearance Hearings of the DVD, click here.

Bond Hearing

The purpose of the first appearance and bond hearing is for the judge to: Advise the defendant of the charge(s); Determine if the police had probable cause to make the arrest; Determine whether the defendant can pay for an attorney, and, if he cannot, appoint the Public Defender; and, Set conditions of pre-trial release from jail, if applicable. At the hearing, the judge sets conditions of release to ensure the defendant’s presence at future court hearings and to protect the community. The conditions are based on the charges, the defendant’s ties to the community, prior criminal history, and other relevant facts. It is often important for the defendant to have his family, friends or employer speak on his behalf. Click here for location and times of first appearance hearings.

In domestic violence cases, the judge will also issue an order that prohibits any contact between the defendant and alleged victim. If the alleged victim appears at the hearing, testifies on behalf of the defendant, and proves to the judge that no threat of harm exists, the judge may decide not to issue the order. If the defendant cannot post bond and remains in jail, the defendant will be scheduled to appear at a Domestic Violence Division Jail Report hearing within four days.

Pre-trial Release

A defendant is presumed innocent until the prosecutor proves guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. At this stage in the process, the prosecutor has not proven anything and the defendant is supposed to be treated as an innocent person. Following this principle, Florida law gives the defendant the right to be released from jail prior to the trial. However, there is no right to pre-trial release in cases where the person is arrested for a “non-bondable” offense. To determine whether the defendant should be released, the judge may ask about the length of time that person has lived in the area, whether the defendant has a job, has family members living in the area, has a past criminal record or has been released on bond previously and appeared in court as required. The judge may release the defendant on his own recognizance, on monetary bond (either cash or surety bond through a bail bondsman), on monitored release (electronic monitoring device or bracelet), to the custody of a responsible member of the community or to a drug program or mental health facility.

Pre-trial Detention on “Non-bondable” Offenses

If a defendant is arrested for a “non-bondable” offense, such as murder, sexual battery or kidnapping, the law presumes that the defendant will remain in jail pending trial. A person arrested for a “non-bondable” offense has the right to ask for an Arthur hearing. The purpose of the hearing is for the judge to determine whether the person should be released pending trial.

 

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Law Offices of the Public Defender
Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida

 

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