The Implications of Stricter Pre-Trial Release Options in Florida

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As we welcome the New Year, Floridians are witnessing a significant legislative shift as of January 1, 2024, poised to impact the state’s criminal justice system. This noteworthy change warrants careful consideration. At The AP Law Group, we stand as vigilant criminal defense trial attorneys. We are dedicated to ensuring the protection of the rights of the accused amid these changes. Our commitment to advocating for fairness, due process, and safeguarding individual liberties remains unwavering. 

Under Florida law, individuals accused of crimes have always had the right to pre-trial release on reasonable conditions unless charged with a capital offense or a crime punishable by life in prison. However, under new legislation signed by Governor Ron DeSantis, there have been substantial amendments to the pre-trial release and detention laws. The new changes introduce stricter measures for certain felony offenses. 

CS/SB 1534

The recent changes to pre-trial release and detention have impacted the options for certain felony offenders. Depending on their criminal history, defendants cannot be released before their initial hearing with a judge. In addition, the Florida Supreme Court is set to implement a bond schedule prohibiting lower courts from setting bail amounts below the established standards.

Maintaining a delicate equilibrium between safeguarding the public and ensuring the equitable treatment of individuals facing criminal accusations is crucial. The tightening of pre-trial release options introduces the potential for negative and unintended consequences.

Possible Outcomes of Stricter Pre-Trial Release Options may result in:

  • Job loss, Housing Issues, and Financial Instability: These adverse effects due to long-term detention can have long-lasting impacts on a defendant’s life, exacerbating their difficulties.
  • Presumption of Guilt:  Long-term detention may contribute to the presumption of guilt in the eyes of the public and, perhaps, the jury, compromising the defendant’s right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
  • Pressure to Plead Guilty: Defendants faced with prolonged detention or high bail may be pressured to plead guilty and accept plea deals even if they believe they are innocent. This decision may affect the defendant’s criminal record and future opportunities.
  • Negative Impacts on Family Well-Being: Detention before trial can strain family well-being. Defendants who are breadwinners may be unable to provide financial support and the absence of a parent or caregiver can profoundly affect children and family dynamics.

Crime, Public Safety, and Social Re-Integration

The shift toward stricter pre-trial release options may not necessarily lead to decreased crime or increased public safety. Prolonged detention may contribute to a cycle of re-offending as defendants struggle to reintegrate into society after extended periods behind bars. Moreover, elevated bail requirements impact individuals with limited financial means, creating an unfair system that disadvantages those having economic hardships.

Research by the Prison Policy Initiative found that a significant portion, 83%, of those held by jails are legally innocent while they await trial. According to this study, longer stays in pre-trial detention increase the rate of failure to appear in court and re-offending. 

Your Trusted Ally in Criminal Defense

Florida’s revised pre-trial release law highlights the need for securing the services of a seasoned and aggressive criminal defense law firm. At The AP Law Group, we pride ourselves on staying informed about the changes in laws, enabling us to provide the most up-to-date and effective representation in the evolving legal landscape.

The AP Law Group: Advocates for Justice and Equitable Legal Practices

At the AP Law Group, we stand as staunch defenders of justice and fairness, providing aggressive and client-centered representation across the Ocala and Gainesville regions of Florida and the surrounding areas. Our legal team has earned a stellar reputation for successfully navigating even the most challenging cases in the criminal defense landscape. We ensure that every client receives the attention and advocacy they deserve regardless of their challenges. 

If you find yourself facing criminal charges, it is critical to contact our law firm immediately. The AP Law Group handles misdemeanor and felony crimes in both Florida and federal jurisdictions. To learn more about the amended pre-trial and detention release law, contact The AP Law Group at 352-732-9191. We stand ready to defend the rights of those facing criminal allegations.