Articles Posted in Bail / Bond Hearings

931789-Crimes-of-Violence-callout-08-20-10.pngIn 2010, the United States had to spend approximately $80 billion on the system of its prisons and jails which means the nation spent around $260 for each of its citizens. As per the statistics, 2.2 million Americans were in prison or jail in 2012, which is a bigger percentage of population behind bars than in almost any other country. This is also approximately five times the number versus other industrialized nations. In such a situation it is obvious that such a huge amount of money was spent for punishment.

In the United States, there is a theory that crime rose in the 1960s and 1970s mainly due to decline in manufacturing employment, whereas, in 1980s and 1990s, a major reason of crimes was crack cocaine. But with so many Americans in prison, one needs to know that it is also the US policies regarding crime that drove up imprisonment rates.

Harsh sentencing has been a way to remove criminals form society. Since 1975 to 2002, mandatory sentencing laws with minimum sentences, have been adopted by all 50 states. Harsher gun laws including Florida’s 10/20/Life were passed. For punishing repeat offenders, many states adopted “three strikes” laws. In such a scenario, judges are left with no ways to offer shorter sentences. The prison population surged and by 2012, the number of Americans behind bars had tripled to 0.7 percent.

With this increase, the United States saw a dramatic reduction in violent crime from the 1960s until 2010. However, the released crime figures by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics for 2012 shows that the violent crime rates in the United Sates is on the rise for the second consecutive year. From 19 in 2010, victimizations per thousand rose to 23 in 2011 and 26 in 2012. As per the latest figures, the fall in serious crime in the U.S started in the mid-1990s which continued downward till 2010. Between 1996 and 2001, there was a drop in the rate of violent crimes in US; from 65 victimizations per 1,000 it came down to 33.

When speaking about violent crimes in US, as per FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program, the four offenses encompassed by violent crime are murder, robbery, forcible rape and aggravated assault.

In the year 2012, the estimated number of violent crimes reported to law enforcement was 1,214,462 and this includes 14,827 murders; 354,520 robberies; 84,376 forcible rapes and 760,739 aggravated assaults. According to the statistics, of all reported violent crimes, the South accounted for around 40.9%. Of all reported violent crimes, aggravated assaults accounted for 62.6%. Of all reported murders, in 69.3% cases firearms were used. Of all robberies, 43.5% occurred on highways or streets.

When accused of any kind of crime, you have two important steps. The first and thing to do would be seeking a bail to avoid prolonged jailtime. While procuring a bail bond can be quite challenging, the bail bond agents can be of real help. Today, in the age of high-end technology, getting the right bail bond is easier, quicker and simpler when done online through an online bail bond agency. When it is about getting bail bonds in paterson nj, an online bail bond agency can be a wise option to get it done in the most hassle-free way.

Coming back to the statistics regarding violent crimes, it is revealed that when comparing the figures for the first six months of 2013 with the first six months of 2012, there was a decline in violent crimes as well as in property crimes such as theft. While comparing the first six months data of 2012 with that of 2013, all the offenses in the category of violent crime shows a decline. In all categories of violent crimes like murder, non-negligent manslaughter, aggravated assault, robbery and forcible rape – murder rate declined by 6.9%, aggravated assaults declined by 6.6%, robbery offenses declined by 1.8% and forcible rapes declined by 10.6%. The violent crime rates in the first six months of 2013 as compared to the same period in 2012 shows the maximum decrease of 9.2% which is noted in cities with less than 10,000 population.

While nonmetropolitan counties showed a decline in violent crime by 10.5%, in the metropolitan counties it was 3.6% only. In the four regions of the nation, there was a decrease in violent crime; while the largest was 7.4% in the Midwest, it was 5.9% in the South, 4.3% in the Northeast and 3.7% in the West.
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illegal-drugs.jpgMany Florida residences are often accused of crimes involving the illegal possession of controlled substances defined under Florida Statute section 893.13. Often people accused of these crimes are first time offenders or have often score non-state prison under the sentencing guidelines. Citizens scoring non-state prison are eligible for a term of probation that includes supervision by the Department of Corrections. A term of probation is often a very appealing offer from the State Attorney’s Office because in can used in place of jail or a prison offer or insure that the client is not a convicted felon. However, many people are placed on drug offender probation for drug offenses without knowing the strict conditions imposed during the super vision period. Additionally, people do not fully understand the ramifications of violating drug offender probation. It is essential that people placed on probation understand the requirement and the consequences of the supervision BEFORE he or she agrees to go on probation.

Drug offender probation is defined in Florida statute section 948.20. If it appears to the court upon hearing that the defendant is a chronic substance abuser whose criminal conduct is a violation of Florida statute section 893.13(2)(a) or (6)(a), the court may either adjudge the defendant guilty or stay and withhold the adjudication of guilt; and, in, either case it may stay and withhold the imposition of a sentence and place a defendant on drug offender probation. This allows people accused of drug crimes to plea to the charge and not be a convicted felon. However, strict requirements must be followed. Under Florida Statute 948.20(1) drug offender status shall include surveillance AND random drug testing.

What does this mean? If you agree to a term of probation, the probation officer will have the opportunity to search your house at any time without first obtaining a warrant from a Judge. This means at any time for any reason, your probation office can show up to search for any illegal items. You have essentially waived your rights to unlawful search and seizure afforded by the constitution. Second, under Florida Statutes you are REQUIRED to be randomly drug tested. You can expect to check into a website on a daily basis and if your number is called you must provide a sample of your urine. Failure to do so in a timely manner may violate your probation.

Additional conditions of drug offender probation may include a curfew from 10pm to 6am. Probationers may not leave the county without permission of his or her probation officer. Client’s placed on probation must pay $55 per month in costs of supervision. All financial requirement including fines and court costs MUST be paid by the end of the term. Failure to do so may result in a violation of probation warrant.
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Any violation of these terms of conditions will lead to a violation of probation warrant issued for your arrest. Once the warrant is issued, you will be entitled to a bond and will be held in custody on a zero bond status. This means no matter how much money you may have you are not eligible to be bonded from jail. You may be plucked from your home or car and be sitting in the jail for days or weeks before a Judge agrees to give you a bond. In many cases, if you violate your probation you may do more jail time than originally offered for your sentence.

Before you decide to take a probation sentence, be familiar with the terms and requirements BEFORE you agree to take the deal. In many cases, people serve longer jail sentences on a violation of probation than the jail offer on their original charge. Agreeing to be placed on probation can be a wise decision. It may keep you from being a convicted felon and could keep you out of jail. However, be aware of the strict conditions imposed on probation. Understand that any violation of probation can land you in jail without the possibility of bonding out. It is important to realize that people often serve longer jail sentences for a violation of probation charge than on the offer on the original underlying drug charge. If adjudication was withheld, an admission of the violation of probation will erase all the hard work and effort to keep from being a convicted felon.
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Book Cover Wspine.jpgA thank you for Patrick Henry, guest blogger, who wrote much of this entry. So much of being a St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer involves not just helping clients with criminal matters. Many times a client needs a less expensive, reliable way to bond out of jail. A bondsman can definitely help in that regard. But how can a bondsman help and what is his/her role in the judicial process?

The Role of Bail and Bail Bonds Agents
The operation of the criminal justice system is foreign to most people. Courts and jails are intimidating places that instill fear and anxiety in people who are there because they are accused of committing a crime. The first questions most people who have been arrested ask their criminal defense attorney is, “How do I get out of jail?” and “How do I do it quickly?”

Bail is the process through which a person’s future appearance in court is assured by making release from custody conditioned upon the accused person depositing a sum of money, in an amount decided by the judge. The bail is forfeited if the person fails to return to court.
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Most jurisdictions have a bail schedule for minor offenses (such as possession of marijuana or disorderly conduct) posted at the jail or police station to allow a person to be released after posting the designated amount. This avoids the need to bring the arrested person to a courthouse to have a judge set bail.

A judge will set higher bail for offenses that are more serious (such as an aggravated battery or drug trafficking charge), or where the person under arrest has a prior criminal record. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that bail is not a right guaranteed under the Constitution. According to the Supreme Court, all the Constitution requires is that bail not be for an excessive amount. This leaves it solely to the discretion of the judge hearing the case to decide the amount of bail to be posted to secure a person’s release. In other words, for the truly serious crimes such as murder, no bond needs to be set at all.

If bail is set in an amount that the accused person can afford to pay, being released from custody is accomplished by depositing cash with the court. If a person does not have the money to post the bail, they will usually seek the services of an experienced bail bonds agent.

Bail bonds agents are licensed to do business in most states. For a non-refundable fee, usually set by the state as a percentage of the amount of the bail, the bail bonds agent posts a bond with the court to secure the person’s release. The bail bonds agent is responsible for the appearance of the accused person at all future court proceedings, or the bond posted by the agent is forfeited. This website has a more in-depth guide for bail bonds you can download.

To the person sitting in jail who does not have enough money to post bail, the bail bonds agent’s fee is a small price to pay to obtain freedom.
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A rather disturbing story was featured in today’s St. Pete Times about a Seminole mother who tried to sell her son for $2,000 because of her addiction to prescription drugs.

The 5-year-old boy was excited to start kindergarten Tuesday in Tampa.

Jim and Betty Gardner, who have helped raise the boy since he was an infant, were working hard to prepare him by establishing a morning routine.

Now, they’re worried how his first school year will begin.

The child was taken into protective custody Saturday after authorities arrested his mother and accused her of trying to sell him to the Gardners for $2,000.

Jessica Mickles Beers, 28, whose last known address was in Seminole, was charged with Felony Sale of Parental Rights along with a Violation of Probation (VOP) on her pending Grand Theft charge. At her First Appearance Hearing on Sunday, bail was set at $10,000.

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Gardner, 58, said he and his wife met Beers when the boy was just a few months old after she called their church for assistance. They took food and diapers to her.

Beers essentially was homeless, but was living with other people. She asked to move in with the Gardners and they agreed, Gardner said.

For the next five (5) years or so, the Gardners, who have fostered numerous children over the years, helped take care of Beers and her child.

About two years ago, Beers began talking about having the couple take guardianship of her son but never followed through with it. Early Saturday, Gardner said, Beers called him and offered to sign away her parental rights if the Gardners would pay her $2,000.

“It was money or else …” Gardner said. “I thought ‘Whoa, that’s illegal.’ ”

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He contacted the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO), which arrested Beers at a Seminole grocery store when she came to collect the cash.

The child was not with Beers, but she told authorities where he could be found, Gardner said. Gardner said he believes Beers is addicted to prescription drugs.
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As reported by BayNews9, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is at it again.

In another “cost-cutting” measure, the Polk County Jail will no longer provide free underwear to its inmates.

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Normally, when an inmate is booked in the jail, they are given an orange shirt, orange pants and underwear.

In order to save money, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd has proposed making males inmates pay if they want their “tighty whities.”

The cost-saving measure was part of the sheriff’s 2011-2012 budget he presented to county commissioners Thursday afternoon. Judd said it will save the county $45,000.

Although women behind bars will still be provided underwear, the men will have to pay.

“For those who don’t want to pay, they can let the breeze blow up one leg and out the other,” Judd said (in classic Grady Judd fashion).

The idea drew smiles from several county commissioners and laughter from the crowd.

“You and I buy it at the store. So, if they want it, they can buy it,” he said. Judd said they are also cutting eleven (11) positions, including six (6) supervisors.

Judd says while his department is doing more with less, his highest priority remains keeping the people of Polk County safe.

Judd said the new policy will not cause the quality of service from the department to go down.

“None of these cuts will keep us from answering the call,” Judd said.

FYI — As for the underwear, it’s about $2.50 for briefs and $4.50 for boxers. The choice is up to the inmates.

“We give our inmates choices at our jail,” he said.

The new underwear rule will breeze into effect Aug. 1st.
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Authorities in California say actress Jaime Pressly has been arrested in Santa Monica for investigation of Driving Under the Influence of alcohol.

Jaime Pressly DUI.jpgLt. Darrell Lowe says the co-star of TV’s My Name is Earl was stopped for a Traffic Violation around 11:00 p.m. Wednesday and booked on suspicion of DUI but he’s not releasing any details.

The Los Angeles County sheriff’s website says the 33-year-old actress-model spent the night in jail and was released Thursday morning after posting $15,000 bail.

According to a story on ESPN.com, a Florida International University (FIU) baseball player with a record-setting 56-game hitting streak has been charged with Rape in the Bahamas, court officials in the islands’ capital said Monday.

Garrett Wittels is accused of raping a 17-year-old teenage tourist on December 20th while on a visit to the archipelago east of Florida. The 20-year-old infielder ended last season with the second-longest hitting streak in NCAA Division I history, two behind the 58-game run by former Oklahoma State star and Major Leaguer, Robin Ventura, in 1987.

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Two (2) of Wittels’ friends also face Rape Charges, officials said.

Robert Rothschild, 21, of New York, was accused of raping two 17-year-old girls, while Jonathan Oberti, 21, also of New York, was charged with raping one, according to Bahamian court officials.

Chief Magistrate Roger Gomez granted Wittels and the two others $10,000 Bail at their Thursday arraignment in Nassau. The U.S. suspects were not required to enter pleas and returned to the United States.

It is unclear how, or if, the charge would affect Wittels’ status with the FIU program. FIU begins its baseball season February 18th and its first three (3) games are set to be televised while Wittels continues his chase of Ventura’s record.

Magistrate Derence Rolle-Davis will begin a preliminary inquiry on April 18th to determine if there is enough evidence for the case to go to Trial. By then, FIU’s season will be more than half over.

Wittels, who set school and Sun Belt Conference records with his streak in 2010, did not respond to a message seeking comment sent to his Facebook account. He posted congratulatory messages on his Twitter feed Sunday night after FIU’s football team beat Toledo to win the Little Caesars Bowl in Detroit — the first bowl win for the Golden Panthers’ football program — but no mention of the legal matters.

Wittels tweeted on Dec. 18 that he was going to the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas for several days.

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Wittels’ father, an orthopedist, told The Miami Herald that his son would be vindicated. He said his son was “devastated” by the allegations.

“Anyone can accuse anyone of anything at any time,” Michael Wittels told the Miami newspaper during a Monday morning phone interview. “He’s not doing well, obviously. He’s blown away. He’s devastated that someone would accuse him of this.”

Michael Wittels, whose telephone appeared to be disconnected later Monday, told the newspaper that his son and his friends met the two girls at a casino and they later went to a private party. The girls apparently described themselves as students at the University of Arkansas, he said.

In the Bahamas, the maximum penalty for a first-time rape offender is seven (7) years in prison.
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According to a story published on TampaBay.com this afternoon, Pinellas County Court Judge Henry Andringa refused to lower the $500,000 Bail for former Clearwater Fire Chief Jamie Geer, who was arrested Monday and accused of Capital Sexual Battery (which requires a mandatory LIFE in prison sentence).

Jamie Geer.jpgThe request to lower the Bail came from local attorney Nat Kidder, who previously handled Geer’s divorce case and is discussing whether to represent Geer in this serious criminal case. Judge Henry Andringa said Geer could request a Bond Reduction Hearing, in the future, to argue that Geer’s bail should be reduced.

“I think everyone concerned is dismayed,” Kidder said after the hearing, when asked for his reaction to the charge against the former Clearwater Fire Chief. “Like any citizen, he has the presumption of innocence.”

Two stories on BayNews9.com today addressed the fate of Jennifer Mee, otherwise known around the world as the “Hiccup Girl.”

At her “First Appearance” or “Advisory Hearing” in Clearwater this afternoon, bond was been denied for Jennifer Mee and two (2) other men, who are facing First Degree Felony Murder charges in connection with a Robbery that left a 22-year-old St. Pete man dead.

Hiccup Girl - First Appearance.jpgMee first made news after a fight with the hiccups that lasted for six (6) weeks. During that time she was asked to leave school because she was considered a distraction to other students.

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