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Florida has a new pretrial detention law affecting bond schedule

On Behalf of | May 5, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Florida’s criminal justice system underwent a significant shift in May 2023 with the passing of House Bill 1627. Effective January 1, 2024, this legislation revamped the state’s approach to pretrial detention and bond schedules.

The new law aims to achieve two primary goals: Strengthen pretrial detention and help ensure uniformity in how bonds are set across the state.

Changes to pretrial detention

A critical alteration lies in how judges handle defendants facing specific charges. The law identifies 26 offenses categorized as “dangerous crimes,” including but not limited to aggravated assault, sexual battery and arson.

Previously, judges possessed the discretion to release defendants on these charges using non-monetary options like electronic monitoring or recognizance bonds (promises to appear in court). However, the new law eliminates this flexibility. Now, defendants facing dangerous crimes must be issued monetary bonds for their release before trial.

This change has sparked debate. Proponents argue it enhances public safety by keeping potentially dangerous individuals off the streets while awaiting trial. Pundits are saying the new law will unfairly impact low-income individuals who may struggle to afford bail. They argue that this could potentially lead to longer pretrial detention periods, even for presumed innocent defendants.

The uniform bond schedule

Another significant element of the reform is the introduction of a standardized bond schedule across the state. Previously, bond amounts varied depending on the county where the arrest occurred. The new law mandates the Florida Supreme Court to establish a uniform schedule for specific offenses not included in the “dangerous crime” category. This schedule became effective on January 1, 2024, outlining set bond amounts for various felonies and misdemeanors.

The uniform schedule aims to address concerns about disparities in how bonds were previously set. However, some argue it might not fully consider individual circumstances. Critics say this can potentially lead to situations where a defendant’s financial situation, not the severity of the alleged crime, dictates pretrial release.

Florida’s new pretrial detention law affecting bond schedules is set to shift the state’s criminal justice system significantly. While the goals of enhanced public safety and standardized practices are commendable, the reform’s impact remains to be fully seen. Residents can benefit from seeking legal guidance to better understand how the law is implemented and its effect on both public safety and pretrial detention rates.


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