The Process of Indictment

Interviewer: What does it mean to be indicted?

Randy Berman: Well, that’s just a method of being charged with a crime. There are two ways to be charged with a crime. One is by information and that’s merely the state attorney drafting a complaint against you and filing it with court and that’s how most people are charged with crimes. An indictment is where the state attorney takes evidence to a grand jury which is a group of people that are selected like a trial jury but they just sit for the purpose of reviewing evidence and allegations against people. The grand jury then votes after they hear the state’s presentation of whether to charge the person and if they vote to charge the person that’s called an indictment. The indictment like the information is merely a charge, it’s an allegation of wrong doing, and it’s not proof of anything.

The Process of Bail in Florida

Interviewer: How does bail work? What does bail mean? Can it be paid in cash?

Randy Berman: When you’re arrested you’re entitled to a reasonable bail. Most jurisdictions have a preset schedule of Bond amounts for certain crimes. Those bonds can be modified by a judge on a motion to reduce the bond or to release someone on their own recognizance without posting a bond. Once the bond is finally determined by the court and there’s no further motions to reduce it, the only way to get out of jail is to post a bond. You can post a bond yourself by paying the full amount of the bond and if you comply by coming to court and seeing your case to its conclusion without forfeiting your bond you get the money back.The Clerk will deduct some administrative record keeping fees for the clerk that’s just usually in the neighborhood of a hundred dollars or so otherwise you get your bond back.If you can’t afford to post the entire amount of the bail, you can engage a bondsman and those people will post your bond through their insurance companies that they’re associated with for the full amount of the bond. They get from you a 10% fee for doing that. That fee is theirs to keep and is not refunded to you.

If Bail is violated, the Bond Posted is forfeited by a Judge

If you jump bail or abscond; the judge will forfeit your bond.If you posted cash, that money goes to the clerk and you don’t get it back unless you convince the court to reinstate it. If you fail to appear or abscond when you’re bonded by a bondsmen, the bondsmen insurance will pay the balance to the clerk. The bondsmen will go searching for you to get those moneys returned.The forfeited amount is refunded to the bondsman who surrenders the individual that jumped bail.If you’re fortunate enough to be released on your own recognizance which is your promise to attend all your court hearings until the conclusion of the case, you are released without having to post a financial bond.

The Differences between Felonies and Misdemeanors

Interviewer: What are the significant differences between misdemeanor and felonies? What differentiates that? What do they mean?

Randy Berman: Misdemeanors are crimes that carry up to a year in jail and that penalty if it’s imposed would be served in the county jail where the crime occurred. Felonies are crimes that carry over a year in jail and if you get sentenced for those crimes you’ll serve your sentence at a State prison which can be anywhere in the state. Not necessarily in the area where you were arrested.