When Can a Judge Increase Your Bond?

          When a person is arrested for a State crime in Florida, he is typically taken before a judge within twenty-four hours of his arrest so that the judge can set the conditions of his release from jail.  That hearing is called a first appearance, and it is governed by Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.130.

          Sometimes, though, a prosecutor who is later assigned to a particular case does not believe that the conditions of pretrial release are as strict as they ought to be.  That prosecutor may then file a motion pursuant to Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.131 asking, for example, that the amount of bail be increased.  However, before a judge is authorized to raise the amount of bond or otherwise make the conditions of pretrial release more stringent, the prosecutor must first show "good cause."

          The issue of what constitutes "good cause" was presented in the Florida case of Keane v. Cochran.  In Keane, the first-appearance judge set bond at $2,100.  Three months later, the prosecutor on the case filed a motion asking the trial judge to increase the bond.  At the hearing on the motion, however, the prosecutor failed to present any evidence justifying an increase in the bond.  In spite of that, the presiding judge still increased the bond to $10,000.

         Keane appealed that decision to Florida's Fourth District Court of Appeal and won!  The Fourth District Court stated that "[i]n order to have good cause to modify a bond, the [prosecutor] must present evidence of a change in circumstances or information not made known to the first appearance judge."  Because the prosecutor in Mr. Keane's case failed to present such evidence, the appellate court ruled that the trial judge erred when he increased the bond from $2,100 to $10,000.

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