Thanks for the information.
The 2nd degree felony battery domestic violence charge against your son is VERY serious. It is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and up to at $10,000.00 fine. These are maximum penalties.
The criminal court procedures in Florida can be confusing. A good defense attorney will not only navigate this process for you r son and with your son, but will help him understand all the steps, the court appearances, what is expected of him, and what is likely to happen to your son- every step of the way.
A good criminal defense lawyer is there to help your son as a person as well as fight for his legal protection, rights and freedom under the law.
The most common steps in the process are as follows:
- Arrest / Bail
- Pretrial Hearing
In most cases, defendants must make an appearance before a judge who will first determine if bond is appropriate, and then sets the amount of the bond. The court determines the bond amount by considering, amongst other factors, the defendant's potential danger to the community and/or whether he is a risk of flight. The individual may be released upon personal recognizance / ROR (a promise to appear in court when directed), or released on bail, which involves the posting of either cash money or a surety bond as security for his/her court appearance. Bail bonds from licensed bail bondsmen are available, usually at a cost of 10 percent of the total amount of bail.
Some serious offenses, like first-degree murder, are deemed "non-bondable" and thus, a defendant is unable to bond out immediately. Defendants charged with domestic violence offenses are also unable to bond out immediately. By law, they are required to appear before a judge prior to leaving custody.
If someone is taken into custody, booked, and held he/she must be brought before a magistrate within 24 hours of the arrest. At that appearance, the individual may request that the magistrate lower the bail in consideration of the following factors: ties to the community, financial resources, employment record, lack of criminal record, and history of appearing in court as required.
Upon arrival at the jail or shortly thereafter, arrestees will be given an opportunity to contact an attorney. The attorney, in turn, may arrange for the posting of a bond and may appear in court and request that the bail be lowered. The attorney may request an Emergency Hearing for Bond Reduction. In his/her request, the attorney MUST set forth reasons, in detail, such as those set forth in the previous paragraph, as to why the Defendant should not be considered a flight risk, a danger to the alleged victim, the community, etc. As stated, a good employment record, long term ties to the community, strong family support and lack of criminal history are VERY important factors to be brought before the judge IN DETAIL.
Even if the judge grants a bond reduction, a temporary restraining order or protective injunction may also be entered by the judge as part of his bond. It MUST be followed, even if your son believes that the judge should not have entered the order.
Both restraining orders and protective domestic violence injunctions can order many things:
- Grant possession of a residence
- Restrain your proximity to certain locations
- Order you to cease certain actions
- Order you to stay at a certain distance
- Provide for possession of personal properties
- Order you to cease all or certain contact
- Order spousal or child support payment
If you son is found to be in violation of a restraining order or protective injunction in the state of Florida he may also be charged with a 1st degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and fines reaching $1,000.
You should be able to call the court in the city in which the offense allegedly occurred to find out who has been appointed as his attorney. Although the attorney does NOT have to talk to you (because your son is his client--not you), you can communicate that your son NEEDS to talk to him immediately and that he wants the attorney to request an Emergency Hearing to Reduce Bond. The attorney can visit your son at the jail, get all the necessary information and prepare the request (motion).
In the meantime, you may wish to speak to an attorney who specializes in criminal law. Sometimes, an initial consultation is free or at a minimal cost. You can discuss the specific facts of your son's case, evaluate the options and decide how to proceed. It may be worth speaking to an attorney on your own so that you better understand what will happen and how to get your son's appointed attorney to visit him immediately.
Even if the bond is reduced, it may still be significant. It may require the hiring of a bonding company to assist with posting the bond. As mentioned earlier, the bonds person will charge a fee of 10% of whatever the bond is. Upon payment of the fee, the bonding company will put up the money for the bond. If your son violates any bond condition or fails to appear in court, the bond may be revoked and a new bond set. Also, the bonding company may be held responsible to the court for payment of the entire bond. For example, if the bond was set at $25,000.00 cash/surety, you would pay the bonding company a $2,500.00 fee. The bonding company may also ask for other collateral to ensure that it is covered in case your son didn't return to court or violated the bond. It may ask for the title to your car, or deed to your house. Once the case is resolved the collateral would be returned to you.
Because the charge that your son faces is SO serious, the judge may decide not to reduce the bond. Or, the judge could reduce the amount of the bond from $75,000.00 to $50,000.00 or some other amount. The judge could also set a 10% bond. So for example, if the bond is $75,000.00 cash/surety OR 10%, then only $7,500.00 would have to be posted. You would only then have to pay a fee of $750.00 to the bonding company.
In the interim, as I indicated, you may wish to consult a criminal attorney to further discuss this matter, or find out who the appointed attorney is, and contact him/her to make sure that s/he visits your son ASAP.