If someone is facing federal charges, one of the first determinations in the pretrial stage is “bail” ore pretrial release. This often occurs during the initial hearing, which is usually within 24 hours of the initial arrest. The federal criminal justice system is different than the state. In the federal courts, you are taken before a magistrate to determine whether or not you should be detained.
In determining pretrial release, the judge considers a number of factors, as listed in the Bail Reform Act. (18 U.S.C. 3142.)
The Bail Reform Act favors release in all but a few cases. The Act provides that a judicial officer shall issue an order for pretrial release pending trial with the four following options:
- Released on personal recognizance or upon execution of an unsecured appearance bond, under subsection (b) of this section;
- released on a condition or combination of conditions under subsection (c) of this section;
- temporarily detained to permit revocation of conditional release, deportation, or exclusion under subsection (d) of this section; or
- detained under subsection (e) of this section. (18 USC §1342 (a).
Generally speaking, the court is looking for a combination of conditions that would permit a person to stay out, but also protect the public. These conditions my be involve electronic monitoring, a secured bond, counseling, drug and / or mental health treatment. If placed on pretrial release, the defendant will be required to check in with a pretrial officer. If the conditions set by the court are violated, the person can be returned to custody.
Bail / Pretrial Release Considerations
When considering a defendant’s release, the judge considers factors such as:
- Previous criminal record;
- The charges alleged in the current case;
- Safety of the victim and public;
- Ties to the community; and
- Flight risk
The judge also considers the seriousness of the crime and the probability of the defendant showing up for future hearings and the trial. There can be a revocation of bail or pretrial release, if the defendant commits a crime while out or violates a required condition.