Recent Changes in Florida Law Causing Delays for Inmates Seeking Release in Miami-Dade County

Miami, Florida – Changes to the law in Miami-Dade County have resulted in individuals accused of crimes being held in jail longer before seeing a first-appearance judge. In the past, it was common for those deemed not “high-risk” to pay a bond and be released shortly after their arrest. However, new legislation signed by the Florida legislature and governor has altered this practice.

Under Florida law, individuals must appear before a first appearance judge within 24 hours of their arrest. However, due to the high volume of arrestees in Miami-Dade, many were able to bond out quickly. Now, with the implementation of the new laws, individuals charged with certain offenses must wait to appear before a judge.

The responsibility for screening individuals and ensuring they are not on pre-trial release, probation, or community control rests with the Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department, according to Chief Judge of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Nushin G. Sayfie.

This added screening process may contribute to delays faced by those attempting to bond out. Corrections officers would rather send the case for review by a judge than risk releasing someone in error. However, obtaining the necessary information to make this determination quickly can be challenging.

As of January 1, individuals arrested for offenses such as burglary, robbery, battery on a law enforcement officer, and resisting an officer with violence must wait for a first appearance judge to grant them bond and determine release conditions. Judge Sayfie acknowledges that this may result in individuals with a lower risk being held in jail for a short period of time. Nonetheless, he suggests that public safety was a significant factor in the passage of these laws.

Judge Sayfie believes the changes could lead to an increase in the jail population and more individuals unable to afford bond in Miami-Dade. The Miami-Dade Department of Corrections has confirmed that the bond-out delays are a result of the new state law.

During bond court proceedings, judges were informed of a data entry issue at the Department of Corrections, which contributed to the bond out problems. However, no further details were provided regarding this matter.

The new legislation in Miami-Dade County has altered the process for individuals accused of crimes. While the changes in law aim to enhance public safety, there are concerns about potential increases in the jail population and individuals being unable to afford bond.