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Last Updated on: 3rd November 2023, 07:12 pm
How Can I Get Out of Jail After an Arrest in St. Petersburg? Bail FAQs
Getting arrested can be a scary and overwhelming experience. Most people want to get out of jail as quickly as possible after an arrest in St. Petersburg, but may not understand the process. This article will provide answers to frequently asked questions about bail and getting out of jail after an arrest in St. Petersburg, FL.
What happens when I get arrested in St. Petersburg?
When you are arrested in St. Petersburg, you will be taken to the Pinellas County Jail and booked. This means you will be fingerprinted, photographed, and asked for basic identifying information. The jail staff will take any personal belongings you have and store them until your release.
Within 24 hours of your arrest, you will go before a judge for a first appearance hearing, also called an advisory hearing. This hearing takes place at the Pinellas County Justice Center. You will appear via closed-circuit TV, while the judge, lawyers, and any witnesses will be in the courtroom. On weekends, first appearances happen at 8:30am. On weekdays, misdemeanor first appearances are at 8:30am and felony first appearances are at 1:30pm.
The purposes of the first appearance hearing are:
- To ensure you have counsel or are appointed a public defender
- To formally serve you with the criminal charges against you
- To determine bail and any other conditions of your pre-trial release
How is my bail set after an arrest in St. Petersburg?
In most cases, the jail will set your bail amount based on a standard schedule when you are booked. However, if you are arrested for a violation of probation (VOP) or a domestic violence charge, you will be held with no bond until seeing the judge.
At your first appearance hearing, the judge can reduce your bond amount if you or your lawyer requests it. The judge will consider factors like:
- The nature and circumstances of the alleged offense
- Any evidence against you
- Your ties to the community, employment, financial situation
- Your past criminal record and history of appearing at court hearings
- Whether you pose any danger to the community if released
Bail must be proportional to the charges against you and not excessive according to the Constitution.
What are my options for getting out of jail after an arrest?
You have a few options for getting out of jail after an arrest in St. Petersburg:
Post the Full Bail Amount: You or your family/friends can pay the full bail amount set by the court in cash. This is returned at the end of your case, minus any court fees.
Use a Bail Bondsman: A bondsman will charge you a non-refundable fee, usually 10% of the total bail. They will pay the rest to the court and secure your release.
Released on Own Recognizance (ROR): If the judge determines your charges are not serious and you are responsible, he/she may release you without requiring bail. This is known as ROR.
Request Bail Reduction: Your lawyer can file a motion to reduce your bail if the amount is too high for you to pay. The judge may lower it if circumstances warrant.
How long will I stay in jail after an arrest?
How long you stay in jail depends on if and when you can post bail. If you are able to post bail right away, you may only spend a night or two in jail. If not, you will remain there until your bail is paid.
You have the right to request a bail reduction from the judge at your first appearance hearing. An experienced criminal defense attorney can argue for your bail to be lowered so you can get out of jail quicker.
What happens if I can’t afford to pay bail?
If you cannot afford to pay the bail amount, you have a few options:
- Request Bail Reduction: As mentioned, your lawyer can file a motion asking the judge to lower your bail to an amount you can pay.
- Use Bail Bond: If the bail is lowered but still too high to pay in full, a bail bond may be an option. You pay the bondsman a smaller percentage and they pay the full bail.
- Wait for Trial: If bail is not reduced and you cannot afford a bond, you will need to wait in jail until your trial concludes or charges are otherwise resolved.
- Diversion Programs: Some first-time or low-level offenders may qualify for pre-trial diversion programs that allow release without paying bail. This may involve drug testing, ankle monitoring, counseling, etc.
How can a criminal defense lawyer help me get out of jail?
Hiring a criminal defense attorney early in your case is crucial. An experienced lawyer can:
- Advocate for your bail to be lowered at the first appearance hearing
- Negotiate with the prosecutor to dismiss charges or reduce bail
- Argue against setting excessive bail that violates your Constitutional rights
- Explain options like diversion programs you may qualify for
- Start building your defense right away to fight the charges
Having a lawyer in your corner from the start makes it much more likely you will get out of jail quickly and have the charges resolved favorably.
What happens if I violate the terms of my pre-trial release?
If you are released pre-trial, either on bail, bond or your own recognizance, you must follow certain rules and restrictions. These may include:
- Avoiding contact with alleged victims or witnesses
- Obeying a curfew
- Staying within the jurisdiction and not leaving without permission
- Avoiding drug/alcohol use
- Maintaining employment
- Attending required meetings or programs
- Wearing an ankle monitor/using alcohol monitoring device
Violating any of the terms of your pre-trial release can cause you to be rearrested and taken back into custody. Additional charges may also be filed for the violation.
Can I get my arrest record sealed or expunged in Florida?
If the charges against you are dropped or dismissed, you are found not guilty at trial, or you complete a diversion program, you may be able to have your Florida arrest record sealed or expunged. This can help protect your reputation and future job or housing prospects.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer can guide you through the record sealing/expungement process. It is complex with strict eligibility rules and deadlines. Having legal representation maximizes your chances of success.
Getting arrested and taken to jail can be scary. But understanding your options for bail and release after an arrest in St. Petersburg can make the process less intimidating. An experienced criminal defense attorney can advocate for your rights, work to get bail reduced or waived, and aggressively fight the charges against you. Don’t hesitate to seek legal representation immediately so you have the best chance of getting out of jail quickly and keeping your record clean.