Judge Kenneth Lester addressed for the second time, Thursday, the issue of whether George Zimmerman shall enjoy the privilege of a bond as he awaits trial for the Second Degree murder charge of Trayvon Martin.
Zimmerman originally was granted a bond of $150,000 after Judge Lester heard testimony at an initial bond hearing that Zimmerman lacked funds for a bond any higher than the original amount in place. Prosecutors later moved to revoke the $150,000 original bond after learning that Zimmerman set up a defense fund website and at the time of the initial bond hearing had raised approximately $135,000. Foolishly Zimmerman failed to mention these funds at his bond hearing, unbeknownst to his attorney.
Zimmerman's lack of candor could have landed him in jail for the duration of the pendency of his case, however he was granted a bond of $1 million.
According to the Osceola County Bond Schedule, Zimmerman better be thanking his lucky stars he has a bite at the bond apple at all. According to Osceola County's bond schedule, it is recommended by default that an individual not be granted a bond when charged with Second Degree Murder.
From a practical standpoint, if someone is charged with such a crime, his or her attorney would do just as Zimmerman's attorney has done and move the court for a bond hearing and an opportunity to put on mitigating evidence roughly outlined in Florida Statute 893.046. The primary factors a court looks at are prior criminal history, community ties, risk of violence or risk to commit a new crime while out on bond, and prior failures to appear.
As I mentioned in a prior blog before Zimmerman was formally charged, on paper Zimmerman doesn't seem to pose much of a threat to the community or to abscond. However, this Judge has jurisdiction to not give Zimmerman a bond at all in accord with the bond schedule and Zimmerman put himself at risk of that happening by not being truthful with the Court.
There is no doubt in my mind Zimmerman's attorney was in the dark regarding this defense fund. No attorney in his right mind is going to put his reputation with the Court on the line over something so boneheaded as this. There is nothing more infuriating to a criminal defense attorney than a client that doesn’t follow the attorney's advice or does something dishonest and consequently destroys progress made with the State Attorney's Office. Zimmerman has not only broken his attorney's trust, he's put himself at risk, and perhaps most importantly has sullied his reputation for candor in general, something that could very likely devastate him at trial.
All in all, Zimmerman and his wife are fools for failing to disclose the defense fund. Had they done so, this Judge would likely have given a $150,000 or slightly higher bond to begin with based on Zimmerman's bounty of mitigating factors pursuant to Florida Statute 893.046. He's cost himself an astronomical amount of money, ruined his candor in general, and damaged his case as he is now viewed as a liar thereby calling into question everything he's asserted from day one.
As attorneys we can often protect our clients from just about anything. The one thing we can't protect our clients from is themselves. Get out of your own way George.
Jason Mayberry is an attorney located in Clearwater, Florida and practices throughout the Tampa Bay area. Our practice focuses on Federal and State criminal defense, personal injury and medical malpractice, and family law. Thank you for reading our blog and if you have questions or are in need of an attorney, please do not hesitate to call us at 727-771-3847 or visit us on the web at www.mayberryfirm.com.