In federal criminal proceedings, release and detention determinations are governed by the Bail Reform Act of 1984. 18 U.S.C. §§ 3141-3156 (1990). These sections contain specific guidelines that “judicial officers” must follow in considering whether a defendant should be detained or released pending federal criminal proceedings.
The pretrial officer will prepare a report, which will contain the client’s community contacts, telephone numbers, bank information, asset information, criminal history, etc. The officer will also make a bail recommendation to the judge.
Section 3142(a) states “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” under one of four categories:
- released on personal recognizance or upon execution of an unsecured appearance bond;
- released on a condition or combination of conditions as defined by Section 3142(c);
- temporarily detained to permit revocation of conditional release, deportation, or exclusion under Section 3142(d); or
- detained pursuant to the provisions of Section 3142(e).
The judicial officer must impose the least restrictive condition or combination of conditions necessary to “reasonably assure” the defendant’s appearance as required and to “reasonably assure” the safety of any person and the community”. 18 U.S.C. § 3142(c)(1)(B).
It is important to note that “Section 3142 speaks only of conditions that will “reasonably” assure appearance, not guarantee it”. United States v. Xulum, 84 F.3d 441, 443 (D.C. Cir. 1996)(per curiam).
When making a determination regarding the eligibility of a defendant for pretrial release (whether personal recognizance, unsecured appearance bond, or release on conditions), the judicial officer must consider the factors listed in Section 3142(g), including:
- the nature and circumstances of the offense;
- the weight of the evidence against the person;
- the history and characteristics of the person — including physical and mental condition, family ties, employment, financial resources, length of time in the community, community ties, past conduct history relating to drug or alcohol abuse, criminal history, record of court appearances;
- the nature and seriousness of the danger to any person or to the community that would be posed by the person’s release.
If you are looking for instructions on how to fill out the bond paperwork: https://youtu.be/4mSgGiSdH9M
Anton Vialtsin, Esq.
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