What Does Pre-Trial Release Mean?

Similar to state court judges, federal magistrate judges are responsible for deciding at an initial appearance whether an individual who is charged with a crime will remain in custody or is capable of leaving on a bond. Because pre-trial release requirements can be particularly strict, to navigate these matters, it is often critical to obtain the assistance of an experienced federal criminal defense attorney. It can also help to understand some of the important details about how pre-trial releases work.

The Purpose of Pre-Trial Release

Pre-trial release terms can be used for a number of reasons. First, courts that require pre-trial release greatly increase the chances that a defendant appears in a court of law. Second, many courts instill pre-trial release terms to make sure that the surrounding community remains safe during the time that a person is released.

Bail vs. Pre-Trial Release

Bail refers to the process during which a court determines if a person who is charged with a criminal offense can be released before trial. Bail additionally helps to determine the conditions that are required as part of a pre-trial release. If a person charged with a criminal offense is released with (or without) any requirements, this is referred to as “pretrial release.” Many people incorrectly use the phrase “bail” to refer to the amount of money used to secure a person’s release from jail when this concept is actually referred to as“money bail.”

How Judges Make Pre-Trial Release Decisions

There are a number of court regulations and factors that judges must consider when deciding on pre-trial release requirements. Some of these factors include the seriousness of the offense, the criminal history of the person being charged, where the person being charged lives, and whether the person being charged with the offense has a history of mental illness or substance abuse.

The Nature of Pre-trial Service Providers

There are a countless number of state and local pre-trial service programs. All of the 94 federal district courts also provide pre-trial services. There are several reasons why pre-trial service providers exist. First, pre-trial service providers help to collect information about a person charged with an offense to assess an individual’s risk of either failing to appear in court or endangering the surrounding community. Pre-trial service providers also help to assess the risk that a person charged with an offense is likely to commit a subsequent crime. These providers present their findings to a court of law during the person’s pre-trial appearance. Pre-trial service providers also supervise people who have been released under certain requirements, which might include being required to routinely check in with the court, to receive alcohol or drug testing, or to be electronically monitored.

Speak with an Experienced Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you or a loved one is charged with a federal criminal offense, you should not hesitate to speak with an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer. Contact the Federal Criminal Law Center today to schedule a free initial consultation.