Can I Be Held in Jail While Awaiting Trial?

After most people are arrested and placed in a jail cell, one of their first thoughts is, “When can I get out of here?” After a defendant is arrested, he or she will attend an initial appearance as soon as is practical. Here, the defendant may be released or held in custody until the trial has concluded. Trials can be a lengthy process and therefore, if release is denied, a defendant may be waiting weeks or months until a possible release. Under the federal court system, the process through which a defendant may be granted or denied pretrial release is governed by 18 U.S. Code Section 3124(b), This sections states:


“The judicial officer shall order the pretrial release of the person on personal recognizance, or upon execution of an unsecured appearance bond in an amount specified by the court, subject to the condition that the person not commit a Federal, State, or local crime during the period of release and subject to the condition that the person cooperate in the collection of a DNA sample from the person…, unless the judicial officer determines that such release will not reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required or will endanger the safety of any other person or the community.”


Thus, the United States Code directs that a defendant be released while his or her federal case is pending unless there is reason of the Court to believe that this person is a flight risk or is a danger to the community.


If the court believes that the release of the defendant will not properly protect the community and ensure that the defendant returns for future court dates, then the court will consider releasing the defendant under certain conditions. Here, the judicial officer will determine the least restrictive condition or combination of conditions to ensure this goal. Conditions placed on the defendant may include the following:


  • Remain in custody of a designated person who agrees to assume supervision and to report any violation of a release condition to the court;
  • Maintain employment, or, if unemployed, actively seek employment;
  • Maintain or commence an educational program;
  • Abide by specified restrictions on personal associations, places of abode, or travel;
  • Comply with a specified curfew;
  • Refrain from possessing a firearm, destructive device, or other dangerous weapon; and/or
  • Undergo available medical, psychological, or psychiatric treatment, including treatment for drug or alcohol dependency, and remain in a specified institution if required for that purpose


These conditions are not all inclusive and therefore a judicial officer may decide a different option. The condition or multiple conditions placed on the defendant will be determined by the judicial officer and will be unique to the specific situation and defendant.  
If you or someone you know has been arrested and is awaiting a detainment hearing, please contact the attorneys at Shein & Brandenburg. Our skilled attorneys will discuss this process with you and the many different possibilities to expect. We will work to ensure that your rights are protected during this stressful time.