Most people don’t know that in the federal system, what people know as “bail” does not exist. A Federal Defense Lawyer can make the difference between staying out or waiting in detention.

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 pre-trial release fair and safe. A federal defense lawyer is experienced in federal detention issues and can make a big difference in court.

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.  The court 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 pending trial.

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, in order to assist the court in determining the appropriateness of release or detention under Bail Reform Act rules.

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 an attorney during this hearing.  If you are facing a detention hearing or need help with bail, call federal defense lawyer Gabriel L. Grasso for help.