In Florida, as in other states, domestic violence charges are taken very seriously. If you have been arrested and charged with domestic violence you will need to seek the help of an experienced attorney as soon as possible. In Florida, these charges are handled through the Domestic Violence Division (DVD), which is part of the county court system. You can expect to be held in jail until the first hearing. This is usually scheduled within two days of your arrest. It is helpful to have your attorney present at this first hearing. Of course, each case is different – your lawyer will need to review all the facts surrounding your arrest as well as the charges against you.

The First Bond Hearing

The bond hearing, also called the first appearance, is the first time before the judge regarding the domestic violence charges against you. There are several things that will occur during the bond hearing. The judge will:

  • Advise you of the charges against you.
  • Determine whether there was probable cause to arrest you.
  • Decide whether you will be allowed to be released pre-trial.
  • If allowed to be released, the judge will set conditions of release.

In domestic violence cases you may be allowed to be released prior to trial if you pay the required bond. Bond is set based on many factors including the severity of the crime and the likelihood of you fleeing the area. Your attorney will fight to get the lowest bond possible for your release. If bond has been set you will need to post it in order to be released from jail. A bail bondsman may be able to assist you in posting bail. They provide bail that is repaid – similar to a loan. In many cases this is the only way to get the money necessary to get out of jail.

Conditions of Release from Jail

In addition to posting a specified amount of bond, the judge will set conditions of release. In domestic violence cases, these conditions will include an order that prohibits the defendant from having any contact with the alleged victim in the case. It can be helpful at this stage to have some personal character witnesses speak on your behalf. They may include friends, employers, family members, or community members, who will vouch for your character. The judge will take this testimony into consideration when determining your bond as well as any conditions of release. Additionally, if the alleged victim agrees that there is no threat of harm, there may not be an order to prohibit contact. Some offenses are considered “non-bondable”. This means that you will not be allowed to get out of jail prior to trial on these particular charges. Some of the non-bondable charges in Florida include murder, sexual battery, and kidnapping.

Bonding Out of Jail

The first appearance is where bond will be set. Your attorney will immediately try to have the bond lowered or eliminated completely. An I-bond is when the judge releases you on your own recognizance. This may occur when you have no prior criminal record and you have a job. If a monetary bond is set it may be fulfilled by posting cash or a surety bond through a bail bondsman. The judge may order a monitored release. A monitored release will require you to wear an ankle or bracelet monitoring device which tracks your whereabouts. In some cases you may be released in the custody of another person – this person will be responsible for you until trial. If there are mental health issues, the judge may release you to a mental health facility.