Bail and Pretrial Release

Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

If someone you know has recently been arrested and charged with a federal criminal offense, one of your first concerns may be to try and get them released as soon as possible. Being detained in jail can have lasting negative consequences. If a person is arrested and held in jail, they may have children or family members who depend on them for care who could be in trouble. The detained person may also face being terminated from their employment, or falling behind on rent or mortgage payments, which could result in a loss of their housing. Being released on bail is extremely important to try and minimize the possibility of any of these negative consequences.

After being arrested on federal charges, a person will be seen by a judge at an initial appearance hearing. As our friends at the leading criminal defense law firm LGR Law, LLC explain, prior to the hearing, the defendant will be interviewed by a Pretrial Services Officer, who will ask questions relating to the person’s personal circumstances, financial means, criminal record, and other similar issues. Pretrial Services will then make a recommendation to the court about being released or detained while the case is pending. Defendants will either be represented by a court appointed attorney, or can hire their own attorney, who can advocate for release. 

Though most states have monetary bail and require a defendant to turn over a specific amount of money or property before being released, the federal system is different. While there may be co-signers who agree to pay a certain amount if the defendant fails to appear for court, the purpose of detention hearings is to determine whether or not the defendant can safely be released into the community under certain conditions, as opposed to just setting extremely high bails that will effectively keep someone in jail because they’re unable to pay. 

If a defendant is released, it will likely be with certain conditions, such as reporting to their Pretrial Service Officer on a regular schedule, submitting to random drug tests, and allowing a Pretrial Services Officer to verify their residence. Some defendants may be released on home incarceration or home detention which significantly limits where the defendant can go outside of the home. 

In certain circumstances, a person may not be released on bail. This often occurs for especially serious cases where the defendant is facing significant prison time, or where the defendant has a substantial criminal record or ties out of the country, making them more likely to flee. However, in those circumstances an experienced New Jersey federal criminal defense lawyer can often negotiate with the federal prosecutor to come to an agreement about conditions of release and can also argue to the judge for release with conditions as well. Ensuring pretrial release is one of the best ways to give yourself the best possible chance of fighting criminal charges and protecting your freedom.