The Florida Bar
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PROFESSIONAL ETHICS OF THE FLORIDA BAR

OPINION 71-19
June 21, 1971

A criminal defense attorney may accept assignment of his client's cash bond as security for a fixed fee. He may not accept the assignment as part of the fee because the result would be a prohibited contingent fee.

CPR: DR 2-106(C)

Chairman Massey stated the opinion of the committee:

A member of the Bar asks if it is ethical for an attorney handling a criminal defense to accept as part of his fee an assignment from his client of the cash bond posted by the client and then placing the court on notice of the assignment so that in the event the bond is released it would be forwarded directly to the attorney.

Contingent fees in criminal cases are forbidden. DR 2-106(C). However, assuming the amount of fee is fixed and is reasonable, there is no objection to the proposed assignment. The inquirer should be very careful in that to accept the assignment of the bond as part of the fee is not permissible since the result is a contingent fee. If the fixed fee is purely secured by an assignment, then it is a valid and ethical transaction. To put it another way, the obligation for fee payment and the amount thereof must be continuing even if the bail bond is forfeited.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]