What is a bond, SOR, and OR and how do these work in state court?
When you are arrested for a crime, prior to conviction, you are entitled to be released pending resolution of your case, with very limited exceptions. However, the court is not required to release you without any conditions. The court must release you with the least restrictive conditions to assure the judge you will return to court to resolve your case.
A bond is an amount of money the judge can require you to pay before you are released. If you pay the bond, you will be released from jail. If you do not violate the conditions of your release and you return to court when you are supposed to return, you will get all of the money you paid back, once your case is resolved. It does not matter whether you are convicted or acquitted of the charges. In either case, you get your money back.
Sometimes, a person charged with a crime does not have the money to bond out of jail. If the judge sets a bond that is too high for you to pay on your own, you can hire a bondsman to pay your bond. When you hire a bondsman to pay your bond, you enter into a contract with the bondsman. That contract will usually require you to pay him or her 10% of the bond as a fee for the bondsman. The bondsman will then pay your bond and get you out of jail. The bondsman will also usually require some kind of collateral from you, such as the title to your car or a deed to your house. At the end of the case, if you do not violate the conditions of your release, the bondsman will get his or her money back and you will get back your collateral. If you have violated the conditions of your release, the bondsman will keep or sell your collateral to get reimbursed for the money the court doesn’t return. In either case, the bondsman will not return the 10% fee you paid, as that is how they make their money.
The judge may not set a monetary bond. Instead, the judge could decide to release you “to OR” or “SOR.” OR stands for Own Recognizance and basically means you will sign a piece of paper that says you promise to appear in court when you are required to do so and then they let you go. SOR stands for Supervised Own Recognizance and means that you will promise to appear (just like for OR), but that you will also report to a supervisor (the SOR office) periodically to check in while your case is pending.
Regardless of whether the judge sets a monetary bond or releases you OR or SOR, he or she can set certain conditions of your release. For example, the judge may require you have a curfew, or be placed on in-house arrest, or have no contact with the victim in your case. These conditions will be announced on the record during your bond hearing. If you violate the conditions, a warrant will be issued for your arrest and you will go back to jail.
There are some charges in which you will not be entitled to a bond. In Florida, if you are charged with a crime that is punishable by either life in prison or the death penalty, and if the state can show they have a really strong likelihood of conviction, the judge is not required to give you a bond. In such a situation, if you are still entitled to a hearing and the state has the burden of showing the strength of their case.