Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida criminal judges will be considering a new proposal that would make it easier for people who have recently been arrested for certain crimes in Jacksonville to bail out of jail. Bail/bond is the money or other collateral that needs to be paid to get a person out of jail after an arrest and to secure that person’s presence at subsequent court dates. Under the current system in Duval County, people who have been arrested for crimes such as DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs aka drunk driving), domestic battery, petit theft, offering prostitution and all felonies must see a judge (within 24 hours) to have their bail amount set. For other lesser crimes such as first and second degree misdemeanors, those arrested can be directly released by officers at the Duval County Jail for bond amounts of $2,500 (1st degree misdemeanor) or $1,500 (2nd degree misdemeanor).
The new Duval County proposal to expedite the bond process for people arrested for various crimes would enlarge the number of people arrested who could be released from the Duval County Jail without having to wait to see a judge. Under the proposal, people arrested for most misdemeanors, less serious felonies ($1,000 bond for people arrested for third degree felonies) and municipal ordinance violations would be eligible for release from jail with no bond or a small bond amount. Of course, certain factors related to where a person resides and a person’s criminal record might make a person ineligible for expedited release from jail at a lower bond amount.
Supporters of the new Duval County Jail proposal note that this new process would alleviate the Duval County Jail overcrowding and reduce the costs associated with that problem. Others have expressed concern that the new system would make the bail process, which is supposed to be based on the particular facts and circumstances of each case, too systematic and may remove too much discretion from the judges.