When Will I Get out of Jail?
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.
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.
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.
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.