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Judge ponders bail for woman allegedly involved in murder of Florida deputy

A judge in Florida will issue a decision in the near future as to whether a 20-year-old woman, facing murder charges in connection with the fatal shooting of a sheriff's deputy, will be released on bail. The case is a good illustration of the bail process, by which people who are awaiting trial are released based on a payment of money to guarantee they will not skip future court appearances.

The felony charges arose out of an incident that happened in the Melbourne, Florida area in March. The woman and a 22-year-old man were allegedly stealing items from a local hotel. Their vehicle was pulled over by the deputy, and authorities say the man shot her five times. The two then drove away but were later involved in a car wreck.

The decision whether to release a defendant on bail is based on several considerations. If the defendant has longstanding connections to the community, the court may conclude they are more likely to show up for future court appearances. Release on bail can be denied on the grounds that the crime was particularly violent, or if the judge believes the defendant may be a danger to the community.

In this case, the woman's lawyer argued that she has no criminal history and that she did not fire the gun that killed the deputy. In fact, she was overheard on a cell phone at the time of the shooting pleading with the driver not to shoot the deputy. This looks to be a close call, and it will be interesting to see what the judge decides.

Source: Florida Today, "Bail considered for Kerchner," Stacey Barchenger, Sept. 8, 2012

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