Can a federal criminal defense lawyer help with getting released on “bail” in federal court?

Most people don’t know that in the federal system, what people know as “bail” does not exist.

Bail used to be as simple as a pre-trial payment made to a government authority by an accused person secure release from jail.  On a basic level, only those who can afford to pay bail are able to await the resolution of their case at liberty.  Consequently, this began to draw criticism from activists stating that the bail system was punishing people for being poor. In addition, it was endangering the community since judges were not required to consider additional factors or other conditions when setting the amount of bail.

In order to help alleviate this concern, the federal bail system was completely changed by the Bail Reform Act of 1984. This reformation attempted to make bail fair and safe.

After the modification to bail in 1984, the defendant’s actions in the community could be considered in order to protect the community but a defendant would also not be further punished for their inability to pay bail costs. Judges can still impose a monetary release.  However, the amount of money needed to secure a defendant’s release cannot exceed the amount necessary to secure the defendant’s return.

Under the 1984 Act, a defendant must be released on their own promise to return for their trial, unless the court fears the defendant will not return or is a danger to the community.  If the court fears a defendant’s promise is no good, then they may release the defendant on a combination of conditions that are the least restrictive but will ensure the defendant’s appearance in court.  If the court cannot determine conditions, then the defendant can be detained after a detention hearing.

Once a person is arrested by federal authorities, they are usually taken to a United States Marshall’s detention facility. In Las Vegas, the United States Marshall has a small jail inside the federal courthouse. At this stage, it is important to have the help and guidance of a federal defense lawyer. In most cases, the detained person is brought into a courtroom the same day of arrest or the next day. If the defendant is not to be seen until the next day, they will be transported to the Nevada Southern Detention Center in Pahrump, Nevada, to spend the night. This first court appearance under the Bail Reform act is called the “IA” or initial appearance. Before this appearance, Federal Pretrial Services will interview the defendant to evaluate personal history, including prior arrests and convictions, in order to assist the court in determining the appropriateness of release or detention under Bail Reform Act rules. More information on Federal Pretrial Services can be found at https://www.nvd.uscourts.gov/

A detention hearing is held, in the District of Nevada, before a Magistrate Judge. Guilt or innocence is not being determined, in fact, the evidence of guilt is the least important factor under the rules.  The Magistrate Judge evaluates the areas of flight risk and danger to the community particular to the detained person. The prosecution bears the burden of proof, however, the burden is lower than what would be needed in a trial to determine guilt.  In addition, the defendant is entitled to a federal criminal defense lawyer during this hearing.  If you are facing a detention hearing or need help with bail, call federal criminal defense lawyer Gabriel L. Grasso for help.

To learn more about the Bail Reform Act of 1984, check out this link: https://www.fjc.gov/sites/default/files/2012/BailAct3.pdf