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Federal Crimes Bond Release Eligibility

I Have Been Arrested, Am I Entitled to a Bond?

The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that “excessive bail shall not be required.” This has been understood to mean that judges cannot require a bail bond so high that it cannot be posted because doing so would strip a defendant’s right to bail altogether.

In federal criminal cases, release and detention are governed by the Bail Reform Act of 1984. Judges must consider the rules set forth in the United States Code Sections 3141 to 3156 when considering whether a defendant should or should not be granted a bond while their case is pending. To learn more about your specific situation, speak with the Law Offices of Paul D. Petruzzi, P.A. for legal guidance backed by more than 20 years of federal criminal defense experience!

Why Choose Our Firm?

  • We've handled more than 400 criminal cases in federal courts.
  • We offer free consultations.
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Release and Detention While Your Case Is Pending

Title 18, United States Code, Section 3142 sets forth the categories of “release and detention” that an individual may be placed into and also provides instructions that a court and parties must adhere to. In federal court, usually magistrate judges are the ones who determine release and detention issues.

Section 3142(a) provides “that upon the appearance before a judicial officer of a person charged with an offense, the judicial officer shall make a determination regarding bail status of the defendant, and shall enter an order designating a defendant’s custodial status".

This will come in one of the following categories:

  • Released on personal recognizance or under an unsecured appearance bond;
  • Released under conditions as set forth in Section 3142(c);
  • Temporarily detained to permit revocation of conditional release, deportation, or exclusion under 3142(d); or
  • Detained pursuant to Section 3142(e).

Release on Personal Recognizance/ Unsecured Appearance Bond

Pursuant to Title 18, United States Code, Section 3142(b), a judge may release a defendant on “personal recognizance” or on an “unsecured appearance bond” in an amount as ordered by the court. However, if a judge determines that he cannot secure the presence of the defendant in court or if releasing the defendant on pretrial release will endanger the safety of any other person in the community, then the judge may order that the defendant be detained.

Release on Conditions

When a judge decides that a defendant is entitled to bond, he must order that the defendant not commit any further crimes while released. Additionally, a judge must order the least restrictive conditions available (or a combination thereof) to ensure that the defendant will appear to future court appearances and to ensure the safety of the public.

Factors a Judge Must Consider When Determining Whether a Defendant Is Entitled to a Bond

A judge is required to consider the following factors when deciding whether a defendant should be entitled to a bond:

  • The nature and circumstances of the offense
  • The weight of the evidence against the individual
  • The history and characteristics of the individual
    • Character includes physical and mental condition, ties to the community, employment, family ties, any prior criminal history, record of court appearances, length of time in the community, past history relating to drug or alcohol abuse
    • Whether, at the time of the crime or arrest for the crime, the individual was on supervised release, parole, or another release pending trial
  • The nature and seriousness of the danger to any person or to the community that would be posed if the person were released.

Detention Hearings

Pursuant to Title 18, United States Code, Section 3142(f)(2), a detention hearing should occur upon the detention’s first appearance before a judge. A 3-day delay is permissible upon motion by the government. A defendant may also request a 5-day continuance for good cause.

Detention hearings are considered to be informal proceedings and any evidence that is introduced is not governed by the Federal Rules of Evidence. The government is permitted to proffer to the court. Before the hearing, Pretrial Services prepares a report concerning the background of the defendant.

The report includes the defendant’s following information:

  • Contact information
  • Asset information
  • Other contacts in the community
  • Criminal history
  • Bank account information

In a pretrial detention hearing, counsel for the government has the burden of establishing by clear and convincing evidence that there are no conditions that exist that will guarantee the safety of the community. However, the standard is different when the issue is whether any conditions of release will reasonably assure the defendant’s attendance at trial. In this instance, the government must only establish by a preponderance of the evidence that there are no such conditions to guarantee the defendant will appear.

A magistrate judge must issue an order of detention stating the reasons for keeping a defendant detained. Thereafter, the defendant may request that the district court judge reviews the magistrate judge’s order of detention. The district court must review the entire matter anew and arrive at an “independent conclusion.”

Protect your right to a bond while you or your family member's case is pending - call the Law Offices of Paul D. Petruzzi, P.A. for a free evaluation.

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