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Florida Woman held hostage in Charlotte County Jail
One Florida court in collusion with prosecutors to hold people in jail until they plead guilty to misdemeanor charges or wait months for trial
By: Justice Now
Yes, says her attorney Richard Ruhle of RSL Law, who says that he is going to get her out next week. She has to plead guilty to shoplifting to get out of jail.
Justice Now thinks this is a perversion of the justice system, a prosecutor with cooperation from a judge, holding people presumed innocent in jail until they get what they want- definition of a hostage situation
Is this legal in Florida?
To the extent that because of a court ruling almost 20 years ago, any judge, can revoke a bond on a misdemeanor charge (or any charge) if the accused, is arrested on any other violation, misdemeanor or felony, yes, it's legal.
Bond can be, though usually it is not, revoked. This is not something that you will consistently see with the same judge who revoked Pierson's bond. Anytime a law is applied inconsistently it smacks of unfairness and a violation of equal protection.
Is it legal to deny bond when a new application is made?
The ruling, Parker v State, seems to leave it the trial judge's discretion.
In practice, in that court, usually the accused, now in jail are offered time served if they plead guilty to the misdemeanor with revoked bond. This is in complete disregard of guilt or innocence or if the charges are defensible.
In the case of Ms.Pierson, the prosecutor, aka the state, wants not only a plea of guilty on the misdemeanor case with bond revoked but additionally a plea of guilty on the felony driving charge that she is adamant that she is not guilty of and not willing to take a driver's license suspension, that will have permanent consequences for her, even though the state just offered her a sentence of 4 months which is 90 days served.
Justice Now has been in contact with legislators on the Judiciary Committees and other stakeholders to repeal FS 903.0471 that allows judges to revoke bond, on their own motion Prosecutors can ask for pretrial detention under FS 907.041 if they feel there is a need and they can meet the lawful guidelines. People like this woman are not a risk and the only reason they are held in jail is to force them to plead guilty.
This is unAmerican. It is wrong. It is unethical.