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Posting Bail

Bail refers to the amount needed to get a person released from jail. Every county is different but the bail amount is set one of two ways. In some counties it is set through a predetermined bond schedule especially if the criminal offense is a misdemeanor. If there is no bond schedule in that county or the charge is a felony (a criminal charge that can be punished with more than a year in prison) then it is set by a judge at first appearance, usually within 24 hours of the arrest. In either situation, after the bail is set friends or family are able to post bond to have their significant other released, and It is understood that the release on bail is contingent upon the defendant or detainee returning to court each and every time he/she is summoned to do so.

Obtaining Bail

There are two ways of going about obtaining bail in the state of Florida. Those two ways are as follows:

1. A Cash Bond which is the equivalent of you posting the total bail amount in cash or cashier’s check at the detention facility to get your family member or friend released. (i.e. John Doe is arrested and given a $5000 dollar bond by that counties magistrate, in order to post a cash bond, someone must obtain $5000 cash, take it to the jail and arrange his release) Many times court cases can take months or years to be resolved and in the meantime those funds are frozen with the county. If the defendant makes all his required appearances, upon disposition and total clearing of the case whomever put up this money to the court will be eligible to receive back the said money minus any fines, restitution or clerk and court associated costs. In the event the defendant fails to appear at his scheduled court appearances the person that posted the cash bond stands to lose the whole amount of bail. If someone does not have the total cash available or does not want to have the money frozen a better decision for them would be to contact a bail bondsman and arrange a surety bond.

2. A Surety Bond is obtained when you employ the services of a bail bondsman. For a fee a Bail Bondsman will use his money and assets to secure your loved ones release. The fee is regulated by the state and in the state of Florida the fee for a state bond is 10% of the total bail. For federal charges the fee is 15 %. So if John Doe was arrested and given a $5000 bond on local or state charges the bondsman’s fee would be $500 dollars (10%). The fee is not negotiable and not refundable. In addition to the 10% fee you may be required to put up some type of collateral to secure the bond. The collateral is held until the case is cleared and the bondsman discharged of his liability. The collateral or security portion can be anything of value equivalent to the amount of the bond. In certain circumstances collateral may be negotiated depending on different factors including but not limited to the amount of the bond, ties to the community, financial stability, criminal record etc. Examples of collateral would be vehicle or vessel titles, real estate, cash, jewelry, stocks, etc. The person guaranteeing the bond is most commonly known as the indemnitor and this person will be the main contact in the event the defendant fails to show up in court.

In Florida, the state law allows the bondsman up to 60 days from the date the defendant fails to show up in court to have the situation resolved.

Surety Bond vs. Cash Bond

There is one fundamental difference between posting a Surety Bond through a Bail Bondsman and posting a Cash Bond directly through the jail. Let’s say you were to post a cash bond and the defendant failed to show up, you as a civilian do not have the right to apprehend or detain the defendant in order to prevent the loss of your hard earned money. Not only could you be charged yourself with a criminal violation but you also automatically forfeit the bail money to the county. Given the same situation if you would have used a bail bondsman’s services the bondsman would be actively looking for the defendant with full authority to arrest him and return him to the custody of the county before having to meet the financial obligation to the court. When a surety agent posts a bond he is giving a voucher, a note, a promise to the court that if that particular defendant does not show up at his required hearing he will within the 60 days have him back in jail or pay the full amount of the bond. As soon as someone fails to show up in court a notice is automatically mailed out to the bondsman from the clerk advising him of the breach of the bond and the 60 day timeline. At the same time a warrant for failure to appear is issued for the defendant.

Communication is Key

Sometimes errors in the system occur and sometimes circumstances beyond your control arise. It is common that an attorney forgets to file a form on time, a wrong or conflicting court date is given, you are in the hospital, etc. All of these can be worked out without substantial financial loss to anyone. The key is to communicate that to your bondsman so that he may make the necessary arrangements and provide proof or documents to the court. Not all issues may be able to be solved but bondsmen would rather work with you than launch a search for you.

Frequently asked questions

Disclaimer: answers to these frequently asked were received directly from the Monroe County Clerk of Court Circuit Criminal FAQ’s. Please independently confirm all information listed below.

If your court date has already been set, the Clerk’s Office cannot change it. If there is a problem with your date, you or your attorney should contact the office of the Judge assigned to your case and/or file the appropriate “Motion”.

 

JUDGES OFFICES
Felony, Circuit Court

Although it is improper for a Judge to speak to any party involved in a pending case about the case, each Judge’s Office has an assistant who may be able to help you. Please keep in mind that the assistants may not give you any legal advice.

Circuit Judges

Judge Mark H. Jones
Freeman Justice Center
302 Fleming St.
Key West, FL  33040


Devonna Alce/Cortney Menendez
Judicial Assistant / Judicial Staff Assistant
305-292-3422 / 305-292-3345
FAX: 305-295-3625

Judge Timothy Koenig
Freeman Justice Center
302 Fleming St.
Key West, FL  33040
Kathy Rupp

Judicial Assistant
305-292-3433
FAX: 305-292-3611

Judge Luis M. Garcia
Upper Keys Government Center
88820 Overseas Highway
Tavernier, FL  33070

Susan Johnson
Judicial Assistant / Judicial Staff Assistant
305-852-7165
FAX: 305-852-7113

To obtain information on a felony case, search Monroe County Online records HERE.

Due to the confidential nature of juvenile cases, you will not find these cases on the system. Direct your inquiries to the Juvenile Department service counter also located in all courthouses.

Personal assistance may be obtained on felony cases at the service counter of each division.

Key West Courthouse
500 Whitehead Street
Key West, FL  33040
305-294-4641


Marathon Branch Courthouse
3117 Overseas Highway
Marathon, FL  33050
305-289-6027


Upper Keys Courthouse
88820 Overseas Highway
Plantation Key, FL  33070
305-852-7145

If you have bonded out of jail or been released by a Judge, you were notified at the time of your release of your upcoming court date.

You will be notified of any change in this date by mail. All notices will be sent to the address that you gave when you were arrested.

If you change your mailing address, it is your responsibility to notify the Clerk’s Office in writing
or in person at:

 
Clerk of the Court
500 Whitehead Street
KeyWest, FL  33040
305-294-4641


Clerk of the Court
3117 Overseas Highway
Marathon, FL  33050
305-289-6027


Clerk of the Court
88820 Overseas Highway
Plantation Keys, FL  33070
305-852-7145


Notification of change of address is very important. Your failure to appear for your court date could result in you being re-arrested or taken into custody.

It is the defendant’s responsibility to keep the Clerk’s Office informed of their correct address.

If your mailing address changes, you must submit your new address in person or by mail to the appropriate department:

 
Clerk of the Court
500 Whitehead Street
KeyWest, FL  33040
305-294-4641

Clerk of the Court
3117 Overseas Highway
Marathon, FL  33050

305-289-6027

Clerk of the Court
88820 Overseas Highway
Plantation Keys, FL  33070
305-852-7145


Failure on your part to notify this office of your address change could result in you failing to appear for a court date. This, in turn, could result in your re-arrest.

A procedure whereby the accused is brought before the court to plead to a charge in a charging document, (“Information”, “Indictment”, “Citation”, etc.). The charge and rights are read to the defendant. The defendant is then asked if he or she wants to plead “guilty”, “not guilty”, or “nolo contendere” (no contest).

In some instances, the case might be disposed of at the arraignment. In most instances, however, the case is “continued” to another court event at a later date.

If the case is continued, you will be served a “Notice to Appear” while you are attending the arraignment court event. This “notice” will list the date, time, and place you are to appear for the next court event regarding your case.

Occasionally, for various reasons, the Court might change the date, time, and/or place of your next court event. You will be notified of this change by U.S. Mail. It is very important that you ensure that the address listed in the court case file is correct. If you change your mailing address, you must promptly report the change to the Clerk’s Office in person or in writing. Your failure to appear for a court event could result in you being arrested and subject to additional penalties.

If you have an attorney, he or she may enter a written plea in your behalf and waive your appearance at the arraignment. If not, you must appear. Be sure to check with your attorney as to whether you must appear.

Failure to appear can have serious consequences. The Court may issue a “Bench Warrant” for your arrest and enter an “Order of Bond Estreature”, consequently causing you to forfeit the money and/or collateral you posted for the bond. Additional penalties could be imposed by the Court.

The Clerk’s Office cannot set-aside, recall, or reinstate a “Bench Warrant”. Only the Courts have this authority.

If you accidently failed to appear in court on your given court date, contact your bondsman immediately. We may be able to assist you in receiving a new court date but time is of the essence.

Conviction of various charges can result in the Court suspending your driving privilege for a significant period of time. You might be eligible for a “Hardship Driver’s License”. Your attorney can advise you as to the process and requirements involved.

The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle (DHSMV), through a hearing officer, determines the eligibility of applicants for Hardship Driver’s Licenses.

For additional information, contact:

Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles (DHSMV)
Lower Keys
3439 South Roosevelt Boulevard
Key West, FL  33040
305-293-6338


Middle Keys
3380 Overseas Highway
Marathon, FL  33050
305-289-2306


Upper Keys
101463 Overseas Highway
Key Largo, FL  33037
305-853-3563
 

Florida Statute 27.51(1) states, “(1) The public defender shall represent, without additional compensation, any person who is determined by the court to be indigent as provided in s.27.52… … … …”

By law, the Clerks Office cannot provide you with legal advice or recommend a particular attorney. This includes the filling out of documents and forms.

If you have been charged with a CRIMINAL offense and cannot afford an attorney, you may be eligible for the services of the Public Defender.

You are eligible for the services of the Public Defender if you are charged with a felony, misdemeanor or criminal traffic case. If you are charged with a traffic citation that does not carry the possible penalty of jail time, you are not entitled to the services of the Public Defender. Also, if you are involved in a civil case or a family law case, you are not entitled to the services of the Public Defender. If you are involved in any of these types of cases, you should not contact the Indigence Examiner unless you are so ordered by the judge. In addition, the Indigence Examiner can only assist you in Monroe County cases. He is unable to assist you if you are charged with a case in another county.

Currently, a person qualifies for representation by the Office of the Public Defender if he or she meets the following criteria: (I) their net weekly income does not exceed $412.98 plus an additional $145.19 per each dependant in the household; (2) they do not have any disposable or equitable property or goods which can be used to secure a private attorney; and (3) they have not already hired a private attorney to represent them in additional cases, with few exceptions.

There is a state-mandated application fee of $40 to apply for the Public Defender. If you do not meet the qualifications listed above, you should not waste your $40 to apply. Instead, seek the assistance of private counsel. The standards for qualifying for the Public Defender are set by State Statute. Your application will be a sworn court document and perjury laws apply to any information contained in it.

You may make application with the 16th Judicial Circuit’s Indigence Examiner, Fred Pearce, by calling 305-292-3587 or by faxing 305-295-3652.