Articles Posted in Bail / Bond Hearings

Authorities in California say actress Jaime Pressly has been arrested in Santa Monica for investigation of Driving Under the Influence of alcohol.Lt. 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 an online story several days later on The Huffington Post, Jaime Pressly’s DUI arrest on January 5th was no close call — the My Name Is Earl star registered a .22 blood alcohol level, nearly three (3) times the legal limit.

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..
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.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).The 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.”

He added: “I have not seen anything other than the basic paperwork. I don’t know the quality of the State’s evidence.”

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.Mee 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.

Doctors finally got the hiccups to stop.

For some people, bailing out of the Pinellas County Jail is now as simple as whipping out a credit card. A recent story in the St. Pete Times describes a new county program which allows inmates to use a credit card to bond out of the Pinellas County Jail on minor offenses.

You can now use a debit card or credit card to post bail of $750 or less, instead of paying cash or using a bail bond company. It is the first program of its kind in the Tampa Bay area and one of only seven (7) in Florida.Pinellas County Sheriff Jim Coats says it’s a convenience with a purpose: to reduce the number of people in the Pinellas County Jail awaiting trial.

The program emerged from a meeting among the Sheriff, County Clerk, Chief Judge, Public Defender and State Attorney.

The $750 bail limit was a compromise between the parties. Sheriff Coats wanted $1,000 so more people could use the program. State Attorney Bernie McCabe wanted $500 (presumably, so less people would be able to bond out). The $750 limit is a start, Coats said, and might be adjusted.

The limit means only a small percentage of people in jail — those charged with minor crimes — can use the program.

Of the 3,252 people in the Pinellas County Jail Wednesday morning (September 8, 2010), 74 had bail of $750 or less. Another 1,075 people had bail between $750 and $1 million. The rest could not get out on bail. At least two dozen people have used the program since it began August 23rd.

Before now, someone had to appear in person with cash, a money order or a bail bond agent. That often meant calling mom or dad or your best friend to come bail you out.

Now anyone, even the inmate, can do it by phone with a credit or debit card.

The crimes covered by the $750 limit are mainly non-violent Misdemeanors and Traffic Offenses. For instance, No Valid Driver’s License (NVDL) or an Open Container violation carry a standard $250 bail. On the other hand, Armed Robbery with a Firearm typically carries a bail of $50,000.

A 7 percent fee will be added by Government Payment Service of Indianapolis, which runs the program. The Sheriff’s Office and Clerk’s Office each get a 10 percent cut of that fee.

Government Payment Services also accepts all liability for the transactions, said Marian Garret, the jail’s inmate records supervisor. That will help protect the government from people who use stolen credit cards or don’t pay their debts, she said.

The company has worked with the Florida Department of Corrections for more than a decade, processing Probation and Parole fees. Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin use the company for a majority of their governmental services.

Bail bond companies, which have the most to lose from such a program, are skeptical.Michael Nefzger of BAIL Florida, an association for bail agents, thinks the added fees could become exorbitant. It could also lead to more people using stolen credit cards, he said.

Nefzger said the real problem with jail crowding is too many people facing charges in which state law forbids release on bail.
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A story in this morning’s St. Pete Times about the “SCRAM” monitor caught my attention:

For a solid year, Stephen Hulgin knew he could not sneak a drink without getting locked up.

The reason was strapped around his ankle: an alcohol monitoring device he wore 24 hours a day, as part of his sentence for a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) conviction. If he took a drink, the device would know it.”I knew it was there; I knew I couldn’t beat it,” Hulgin said. And he knew what the judge had told him: One more drink and “I go to prison for four (4) years.”

Hulgin, 44, who lives in a Clearwater rehab center and has a paving company, recently had his electronic monitor removed after an alcohol-free year. He says the device helped him and was a “big component of me getting out of jail.”

It also is becoming part of the anti-alcohol strategy for the criminal justice system in the Tampa Bay area. Judges are increasingly requiring monitoring devices for Defendants who need to prove they’re not drinking.

“I think it can be a very effective tool in protecting the public,” said Pinellas County Judge Donald E. Horrox, who has ordered Defendants to wear them.

Week after week, judges sentence people for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and other alcohol-related offenses. While some get jail time, probation usually follows. Others are released on bail as they await their trial.

Judges almost always order these people to stop drinking alcohol while they are on probation or awaiting their trial. But how do you make sure someone doesn’t drink?

There are ways, such as random urine samples, mandatory AA meetings, and visits to probation officers — all with the threat of more jail time looming overhead.

But it can still be possible to cheat, partly because traces of alcohol disappear from the body more quickly than other drugs. Alcohol monitors are designed to take away that possibility.

The Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor, or “SCRAM” brand alcohol bracelet, which has been used in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco counties, is strapped to a Defendant’s leg above his or her ankle and can be hidden under a pants cuff.

It samples sweat on the skin every thirty (30) minutes, and detects the presence of alcohol. It records the data and sends results back to a central computer and, eventually, on to the court system.

“It’s a Breathalyzer for your ankle,” said Kathleen Brown, spokeswoman for the Denver-based company that makes them, Alcohol Monitoring Systems.

It also contains anti-tampering technology designed to detect when someone is trying to fool the device — such as the person who wedged a piece of baloney in between his ankle and the bracelet. (Baloney may feel roughly like skin, but it’s cold and doesn’t sweat.)

About fifty (50) of the SCRAM bracelets are in use at any one time in the Tampa Bay area, said local representative and bail bondsman Frank Kopczynski. More than 10,000 are in use nationwide, Brown said.Pinellas County Judge Paul Levine said he became intrigued with the alcohol bracelets when he realized they provide a good way to continuously check on serious alcohol offenders, such as repeat drunken drivers. They’re also good for Domestic Violence offenders who get violent when drunk; take away the alcohol, and you often take away the violence, he said.

But over time, he said he heard from Defendants who say “they can’t believe they actually went ninety (90) days without drinking, and it helps their recovery.”

“It’s a tool now to help break the cycle of drinking,” he said.

Hulgin agrees. He said when he was sentenced in Pasco County to wear the bracelet for a full year, the judge told him “If I drank, I’d be in prison. He made sure I understood that if I failed … I’m going away.”

He wore it 24 hours a day, even in the shower. After about three (3) sober months, he said he felt his alcohol cravings subside. Now that he is off the bracelet, he is optimistic that he will also be able to stay off alcohol, with help from his family and the Christian recovery center where he lives, called Center of Hope.

“It helped me,” Hulgin said. And he added, “it’s nice to be able to prove to the Court system and society that I haven’t drank a drop.”

But he does have a reason to be happy to get off of it. It costs $10 a day, and he’s the one who had to pay it.

That $300 a month is a burden that not everyone can afford. But Kopczynski, the Tampa Bay representative for SCRAM monitors, said $10 a day is less than some people spend at bars. He also has a question for people who have been released from jail but are complaining about the cost of the bracelet:

“How much money are you making in jail?”
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An inmate at the Pinellas County jail is accused of forging paperwork to get out of jail.

According to Bay News 9’s partner paper, the St. Petersburg Times, Nydeed Nashaddai managed to fake a letter that got him out of jail. He was in jail on fifteen (15) counts of Uttering Forged Bills, Drafts, Checks or Notes, six (6) counts of Grand Theft and four (4) counts of Fraudulent Use of Personal ID Info.Nashaddai’s release only lasted about a day. When the victim was notified about the release, he called the Pinellas County State Attorney’s Office, who then found out that Nashaddai was not supposed to be let out of jail.

Nashaddai was “re-arrested” the same day. He now faces an additional charge of Escape and remains in the Pinellas County Jail without a bond. It remains to be seen if he can walk his way out of jail again.
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