Recently in Bond Hearings Category

September 12, 2012

Beach Cop Arrested on Racketeering Charges

A veteran police officer was arrested and appeared at his bond hearing last week. George Navarro, Jr. surrendered last week and is facing charges of racketeering, fraud and official misconduct. His initial bond was set at $150,000. The Miami criminal lawyer representing Navarro filed a motion for bond reduction which was granted in part by the judge. After hearing argument from the prosecutor and defense attorney, the judge presiding over the bond hearing reduced the amount to $88,000. Navarro's lawyer argued that he had been an exemplary and extraordinary police officer and that his professional record merited the reduction. Before posting the bond, Navarro was required to surrender his passport and any other travel documents that he had in his possession.

Each county in the State of Florida has standard bonds for certain offense. Bonds in Miami-Dade County range from $500 to $500,000 depending on the charges making up the arrest. The largest bond requirements are generally found in drug trafficking and large-scale fraud cases. Not only are bonds extraordinarily high in those cases, but almost always are accompanied by what is known as a "Nebbia" requirement. Simply put, a defendant with assistance of his defense lawyer, must prove to the prosecutor and the judge that the money for the bond, both the premium and the collateral, do not come from illegal proceeds. Once the bond has been posted and the "Nebbia" requirement has been satisfied, a defendant will be released from custody pending the conclusion of the case.

The arrest warrant alleges that Navarro was involved with several other individuals in a fraud scheme involving the buying and leasing of automobiles. He is specifically accused of providing false information on his credit application to buy a car at Lexis of North Miami. He is accused of defaulting on the loan and falsely reporting that he was a victim of grand theft of a motor vehicle. He is also accused of being a member of a ring of individuals that purchase or lease cars, report them stolen, and then sell the cars in whole or in parts. Pending the investigation, Navarro remained on duty, but at the time of the arrest he was relieved of duty, but still receiving pay.

The defendant is the son of former Miami Beach Police Chief George Navarro, Sr. Sr. was the lead homicide detective in the infamous Gianni Versace murder case. He also investigated the suicide of the alleged murderer, Andrew Cunanan. He is currently employed by Miami Beach as the city's emergency manager. The current Miami Beach police chief said that it is the job of his department to weed out corruption. While the police chief's words are an encouraging sign, the department has a long way to go before correcting its problems.

Miami Beach Officer Arrested on Racketeering Charges Bonds Out of Jail,, September 6, 2012.

August 11, 2011

Area Teen Arrested on Murder and Carjacking Charges

Local police officials have announced that they apprehended one of the individuals involved in a carjacking that resulted in the death of a young couple. The double murder occurred in Miami Gardens outside of an establishment called "Mobile Mart". Eric Ellington, 16 years of age, was arrested at his Hollywood home and made his first appearance last week in juvenile court. He was represented by at the hearing by a Miami criminal defense lawyer from the public defender's office, but has since retained private counsel. In non-violent cases, juvenile defendants are either released on their own recognizance or released to their parents. In violent cases, the juvenile justice system can hold a defendant for only 21 days.

The state attorney's office can circumvent the 21 day holding period by binding a defendant over to adult circuit court. In adult court, a defendant can be held indefinitely if he or she is charged with a life felony or a first degree felony punishable by life in prison. In this case, the defendant has been charged with attempted carjacking and second degree murder. The defendant will be held no bond on the murder charge unless the attorney representing the defendant is victorious at an Arthur hearing or can get the state to agree to some sort of bond. Based on the charge, the latter will most likely not occur.

Prevailing at an Arthur hearing will depend on the strength of the evidence. The state has the burden of proving "proof evident, presumption great". If the state meets that burden, they will then have to prove to the judge that the defendant is a flight risk or a danger to the community. Considering the nature of the allegations, the state should have no difficulty in demonstrating the latter. If the state cannot establish "proof evident, presumption great", the judge will set a monetary bond and most likely require the defendant to house arrest with a monitor during the pendency of the case.

According to police reports, the enter incident was captured on video surveillance at the gas station. The defendant allegedly jumped out of an SUV and approached the victims. He allegedly pulled the driver out of his car and shot him. Another passenger from the SUV pulled the passenger out of the vehicle and shot her. Police believe there were two other persons in the SUV at the time of the murders. Police reported that they have other suspects and are continuing the investigation, but have only made one arrest to date. If the surveillance video is clear and the defendant made admissions to the arresting officers, it may be time for him to consider providing information as to the other suspects involved in the crime and where they may be located. If the defendant is able to assist authorities in locating the other suspects, he may be able reduce the possible life sentence he is currently facing.

Teen Arrested in Couple's Carjacking Death, NBC, August 3, 2011.

April 21, 2011

Pre-Trial Release Programs Benefit Defendants and Taxpayers

Currently, efforts are underway by a special interest group to cut or end pre-trial release programs. Pre-trial release programs were created to benefit defendants charged with non-violent crimes and taxpayers as well. An experienced Miami criminal defense attorney will always attempt to secure a client's release through a pre-trial release program rather than posting a bond as it is much cheaper. In state court, all crimes, except for life felonies, have a standard bond. The bond is set as soon as a defendant is booked into the Miami-Dade County Jail. A defendant can post a bond one of two ways. A defendant can put up the cash for the entire amount of the bond to secure his or her release. At the conclusion of the case, the money put up for the bond will be returned to the person who posted it. If a defendant does not have the financial ability to post a cash bond, a bondsman can be hired to secure the release.

A bondsman will post a bond if a defendant pays 10% of the amount of the bond. This amount is referred to as the premium. For example, if a defendant is arrested for marijuana trafficking and the bond is set at $50,000, a $5,000 premium paid to the bondsman will secure one's release. Bondsmen may require a larger premium if a defendant lives outside of the county, state or country. If a defendant is not able to avail himself or herself or a pre-trial release program and cannot afford the premium being sought by the bondsmen, then a lawyer can appear at bond hearing and ask for a reduction or file a motion for bond reduction and have the matter heard before the circuit court judge presiding over the case. A compelling argument will often cause a judge to reduce the bond allowing the defendant or his or her family to come up with the premium for the bondsman.

Even if a defendant can afford to post a cash bond, or has the money to give the 10% premium to a bondsman, certain offenses have a Nebbia requirement. Offenses that almost always have Nebbia requirements include drug trafficking, mortgage fraud, insurance fraud, etc. The purpose of the Nebbia is to prove to the prosecutor and the judge that the money and property being used to secure the bond does not come from the criminal enterprise for which the defendant is charged. The defendant will have to prove that the money used to post the bond comes from a legitimate source. Any property put up as collateral for the bond will also have to be traced back to demonstrate that it was obtained though legitimate means.

While pre-trial release is less costly to the defendant, it is more onerous because it requires monitored supervision. Defendants in a pre-trial release program have reporting requirements and are even sometimes required to maintain a schedule for employment and other activities. The restrictions placed on a defendant are within the sole discretion of the judge. The taxpayers truly benefit from these programs. Pre-tria release costs the taxpayers $5 dollars a day, while it costs the taxpayer $75 dollars a day to house an inmate. Some are concerned about the safety of the community when it comes to these types of programs. Only defendants charged with non-violent crimes such as theft, simple drug possession or felony traffic crimes will be give pre-trial release. Defendants charged with aggravated assault, sexual battery, or robbery will never be granted pre-trial release which should ease the minds of the community.

Preserve Pre-Trial Programs, Tampa Bay, April 21, 2011.

September 2, 2010

Mother Charged with Manslaughter for Child's Death

A mother who negligently left her child in a car was arrested on the charge of manslaughter. The defendant appeared before a bond hearing judge on August 31, 2010, and was granted house arrest with the condition that she be allowed to obtain psychological treatment and attend the funeral of her young son. While the standard bond in this type of case is $10,000.00, bond hearing judges have the discretion to release defendants without requiring them to post a bond. Of course, this result will often depend on the facts of the case. The state argued that a $10,000 bond was reasonable, but the bond hearing judge felt that the defendant had suffered enough as a result of the loss of her son. The defendant was represented by a Miami criminal defense lawyer from the Miami-Dade County Public Defender's Office.

Maytee Martinez is charged with manslaughter for leaving her three year-old son in the back of her SUV, where the child was over come by heat and suffocation. Martinez realized she had left the child in her SUV and called 911. When the police arrived, they found the boy "stiff, purple and not breathing." Despite the efforts of law enforcement and fire rescue, the child could not resuscitated. The defendant told the police that she had dropped off three other children at school, ran some errands, and failed to take the child out of the vehicle upon returning home. Many family members and friends appeared at the bond hearing to show their support. Despite her criminal past, the court ordered her release.

Martinez has been arrested in the past on charges including battery on the elderly and misdemeanor battery. Courts records indicate that the battery on the elderly arrest stemmed from an incident where she allegedly shoved her elderly mother an aunt when demanding money. A check of those arrests revealed that all of those cases were dropped due to a lack of victim cooperation. The Florida Department of Children and Family Services (DCF) acknowledged that the defendant has previously been involved in the system, but could not provide information due to confidentiality. This is the second case in South Florida in a month involving the death of child being left unintended in a vehicle.

Most felony cases require that a defendant post a bond. Remember, if you can not afford a bond, there are alternative ways to secure a person's release from jail. First, a judge can grant a defendant pre-trial services. Defendants with limited criminal histories that are charged with minor felony offense will be give the opportunity to get out jail. A bond will not be required to be posted, but the defendant will need to be interviewed and will have to report at least once every two weeks to a pre-trial release supervisor. Pre-trial services is a little more onerous in this respect because individuals out on bond do not have to report to anyone. Another option is house arrest with a bracelet. While no money has to be posted up front, a defendant is jailed inside his home, but he or she can attend work and go to school as long as permission has been granted. However, the fees and cost of house arrest can be expensive easily exceeding $100 a month. In sum, the best way to secure one's release prior to trial is to post a bond, but if resources are limited there are other alternatives.

Mother Accused in Son's Death Gets House Arrest,, August 31, 2010.

April 22, 2010

Sports Donor Charged in Multi-Million Dollar Fraud

A local businessman was charged and arrested for running a multi-million dollar investment scam. The case is like so many that have occurred over the past couple of years. Considered a philanthropist, he donated large sums of money to the University of Miami. A federal indictment charged Nevin Shapiro with one count of money laundering and one count of securities fraud. The Securities and Exchange Commission also levied civil fraud charges. Shapiro based on the charges is facing up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $5 million. He surrendered to federal authorities in New Jersey where he appeared with counsel from a criminal defense law firm. Shapiro was granted a $10 million bond by the federal magistrate at the pre-trial detention hearing.

A pre-trial detention hearing occurs one or two days after the initial arrest is made by law enforcement. The defendant is entitled to appear before a federal magistrate and request a bond or other forms of pre-trial release. The federal magistrate will consider two factors in determining whether pre-trial release is appropriate. First, the defendant's risk of flight will be analyzed. The court will consider an individuals ties to the community, such as property ownership, location of family, travel history and overseas bank accounts. If the court believes that a defendant is not a flight risk, typically they will require the defendant to surrender travel documents such as passports and visas to prevent any travel outside of the country. Secondly, the court will consider whether the defendant is a danger to the community. The court will mostly consider the charges pending against the defendant. White collar crimes are more likely considered not to be a danger to the community as opposed to drug trafficking or other crimes which involve violence or will cause physical harm to the general public.

If the federal magistrate determines that a person is not a flight risk or a danger to the community, he will set a bond commensurate with the charges. There are several types of bonds that can put in place by the magistrate including personal surety and corporate surety bonds. Personal surety bonds allow for the defendant or family members to sign over homes and property that are subject to forfeiture if the defendant fails to appear in court. Corporate surety bonds require a bondsman to post a percentage of the total bond to secure a defendant's release. On many occasions those bonds are preferred by the court because if the defendant fails to appear at a hearing, the bondsman is in jeopardy of losing the entire amount of the bond. If the defendant fails to appear, the bondsman or his representatives will seek out the defendant to protect their interests. The court can also imposed a combination of different types of bonds to ensure the defendant does not flee the jurisdiction.

Shapiro was granted the bond despite the large amount of money involved in the alleged scheme to defraud. The indictment alleged that he sold securities through his investment firm's wholesale grocery distribution business. He promised investors an annual 26% return on their investments. As with all Ponzi schemes, much higher than normal annualized returns are a signal that something is amiss. The indictment alleges that Shapiro used stolen funds to support a lavish lifestyle. He purportedly spent investors funds on jewelry, homes, yachts, tickets for sporting events and made large contributions to the University of Miami. Shapiro is now added to the list of people charged with defrauding investors.

U.S. Charges Miami Sports Donor with $900 Million Fraud, Reuters,com, April 22, 2010.

March 2, 2010

Miami-Dade Man Appears in Federal Court Accused of Terrorist Ties

A man accused of selling video games to a South American business with alleged terrorist ties appeared in court for his initial bond hearing. Khaled Sadafi of Doral, Florida, appeared before a U.S. federal magistrate to face accusations by the federal government that he is supplying goods to a shopping mall operating as a front to a Middle East terrorist group. Sadafi was charged in a terrorist related indictment last month. After lengthy arguments by the government and his Miami criminal attorney, the magistrate granted a three pronged bond that will assure the defendant's presence in court. The bond was set at $1.55 million which requires him to pay $100,000 collateral to the clerk of court with the remainder of the bond being secured with his home and other personal assets.

At a typical federal pre-trial detention hearing, a magistrate will determine if pre-trial bond is appropriate for a particular case. Of course, every case is different and the court must consider two factors in determining whether a bond should be set. First, the court must consider whether the defendant is a danger to the community. Significant drug related cases like cocaine trafficking, heroine trafficking and drug importation charges are often considered to be dangerous to the community on the whole. However, qualified defense firms are often able to secure bonds on these types of cases. Charges involving firearms and terrorist linked charges are considered crimes dangerous to the community and are much more difficult charges for which to secure a bond.

The second factor the magistrate must consider is a defendant's ties the community or risk of flight. The court will consider a defendant's citizenship, property ownership and whether family members reside in the jurisdiction. If the court deems a defendant not to be a flight risk, the individual will be forced to surrender travel documents such as passports and visas. The defendant will also be required to remain the federal district where he or she is facing charges. A defendant will much more likely receive a bond if the defendant owns a property, such as a home, in the jurisdiction. Ownership of a business in good standing will also help secure a bond. A federal magistrate will look favorably on a defendant if they reside with a spouse and children from the marriage. A negative factor could be frequent travel in and out of the country or large bank accounts overseas. In a nutshell, the defense attorney must convince the magistrate that the client's ties to the community will assure his or her presence in court.

In Sadafi's case, his attorney argued to the court that he owned a home in Doral for the past ten years and resided with wife and four children. Despite the seriousness of the charges, the magistrate decided to issue a bond, albeit in a hefty amount. Sadafi along with two co-defendants were arrested on terrorist related smuggling charges for shipping Sony Play Stations and digital cameras to a Paraguayan mall allegedly linked to the terrorist group, Hezbollah. All three co-defendants along with their import-export businesses were named in the indictment. The indictment alleges that the three individuals violated a post-911 law which prohibits doing business with other businesses connected to U.S. designated terrorist groups.

Miami-Dade Businessmen Accused in Terror Case Get Bond, The Miami Herald, March 2, 2010.

January 8, 2010

Reggae Star Held Without Bail On Cocaine Trafficking Charges

Rather than appearing at the Grammy Awards later this month, reggae singer, Buju Banton, will be spending his time in the Tampa federal detention center, at least for the time being. Bantom appeared with his Miami criminal lawyer before a federal court magistrate for his arraignment and pre-trial detention hearing.. With the assistance of his defense lawyer, he entered a not guilty plea to the charge of conspiracy to traffic cocaine and cocaine trafficking. Federal prosecutors requested that Banton be held without bail. Banton is facing at least a ten year mandatory prison sentence.

Banton's Miami criminal defense attorney did not oppose the motion for pre-trial detention because his is being by an immigration detainer. Even if Banton was granted a bond by the federal magistrate, the immigration hold would prevent him from leaving federal custody. It has become the custom in Miami and South Florida that individuals arrested who are in the United States on student or work visas will automatically be issued an immigration detainer. Banton must retain an immigration attorney to appear in court and seek a removal of the detainer or in the alternative seek a bond. Once the detainer has been removed, Banton will be free to appear in federal court and seek bail at a bond hearing.

Because Banton has been charged with cocaine trafficking, a Nebbia requirement will also attach to any bond he granted. In Florida state and federal court, all drug trafficking cases that are bond eligible require more than the mere posting of the bond. The defendant must provide documentation proving the cash and collateral put up for the bond did not come from the proceeds of an illegal enterprise such as drug trafficking, mortgage fraud or Medicare fraud. Banton should have no problem meeting the Nebbia requirement if he is granted a bond because he can show federal prosecutors and the judge that money and property put up as collateral on the bond come from his lucrative music business.

Banton's criminal case is set for trial in February, 2010. Whether he remains in custody during the pendency of his case remains to be seen. The indictment alleges that Banton contacted a confidential informant "CI" and set up a cocaine deal involving several kilos of cocaine. The alleged transaction occurred at a warehouse in Sarasota that was equipped with audio and video surveillance. Law enforcement often try to consummate drug deals at warehouses they own and operate to catch the transaction on surveillance cameras. Certainly, a jury would find a video on a cocaine or marijuana deal more convincing than a cops testimony.

Reggae Singer Banton Held Without Bail on Drug Charges, Tampa Bay Online, January 7, 2010.