When a person is arrested in Florida, he or she is normally entitled to a bond, with some exceptions. A potential problem arises, however, when either the judge or law enforcement officer seeks what is called a Nebbia Bond Hold to be imposed as a condition of release. A Nebbia Hold is an additional hurdle which a person in custody must overcome in order to be released from jail while the case is pending. Failure to overcome the Nebbia Bond Hold could result in a long period of incarceration until the case is either resolved or dismissed.
A Nebbia Bond Hold is based upon a 1966 federal case of the same name. Florida statute, 903.046(2)(f) is based upon the holding in the original Nebbia case, and requires that in certain cases the court may require proof that the money used to post bond is not obtained by illegally obtained funds or assets. In cases in Sarasota and Manatee county where I normally practice, the vast majority of cases where Nebbia holds occur usually involve drug trafficking or high dollar theft crimes. Although these are two examples, any criminal arrest could potentially involve a Nebbia hold.
How Does A Nebbia Bond Hold Affect My Case?
When a Nebbia Hold is in place, the normal burden of proof is reversed, and in this hearing it is the BURDEN OF THE ACCUSED to prove that the funds and/or assets used to secure bond are from legitimate sources. The normal method of proof is satisfied by providing the court with copies of bank statements, tax returns, W-2 forms, and other financial records. Live testimony from witnesses is also permissible, and often times preferable in these hearings. In cases where a friend or relative will be paying the bond, the same rules apply to them as well. This type of hearing is often referred to as a Nebbia Proffer. If the accused person meets the burden of proof, the Nebbia Hold will be lifted by the court, and bond can then be posted.
I have practiced criminal law in Sarasota locally since 1996, and for years rarely saw the courts place Nebbia Holds on defendants in this jurisdiction. Over the past few years, however, this has become increasingly common for some reason, and the judges have complete discretion in the beginning of the case to do this. When that happens, I would highly recommend that you at least consult with an experienced attorney such as myself who has dealt with this issue. If you have additional questions, please call me at (941) 954-5333.