Violation of Pretrial Release

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Pretrial release occurs when an individual accused of a crime is released from jail while the criminal case is pending. The defendant, not yet proven guilty, is allowed to leave jail, but often is subject to a number of conditions upon release. A violation of pretrial release can result in a variety of penalties depending on the crime and activities that occurred while awaiting trial.

Pretrial Release and Bail

Pretrial release is different from bail. It is the process the court goes through to determine whether a defendant can be released before the trial and what sort of actions are required to make sure he will reappear in court for the trial. When considering bail, the court has the option of setting conditions on the pretrial release, for example, monitoring or drug tests, and setting financial conditions the individual must meet in order to leave jail.

The court can order the defendant detained without bail; released on his own recognizance, meaning release with the expectation that he will return for trial; released on a bond paid in cash; or released on a surety, which is when someone else pays for the bond.

Violation of Pretrial Release

In the United States, pretrial release conditions and laws are controlled at the state and local levels, so it’s important to understand the specific laws within any jurisdiction. Each state has a different set of conditions and expectations to be applied when considering a pretrial release. For each case, a local court in the jurisdiction of the crime will consider the facts of the case and evaluate what sort of release may be considered.

Conditions of Release

Because these pretrial release situations usually involve a set of conditions as well as a monetary bond payment, it’s important for the defendant to be sure not to violate any of the conditions. These conditions are generally the same throughout the nation:

  • Appearing for all expected court-related appearances.
  • Not committing additional crimes.
  • Staying at one’s current address.
  • Not leaving the state.

Additional conditions will depend on the nature of the crime. These can include home arrest, reporting to a probation officer, substance abuse treatment, respect of restraining orders, electronic monitoring, and additional costs to the defendant in fees and penalties. These conditions are determined by the court and are expected to be met by the defendant in order for the release to remain valid.

Committing Another Crime While Released

Committing another crime while under pretrial release is an incredibly serious offense and can result in the most severe penalties. This compiles the penalties from the initial crime, the violation of the release, and the second crime. Committing another crime while on pretrial release can add additional years to the sentencing. Offenders who commit a second offense while released will almost certainly be returned to jail to await the oncoming trial. This also acts as a black mark against the defendant, when the court is evaluating what type of sentence to apply.

Violating other conditions of pretrial release can result in a return to jail. The defendant can be arrested for the violation, or the release can be revoked. The judge will evaluate the violation and determine what additional conditions and penalties must be applied, up to and including jail time.

Additionally, the court will look at an individual’s behavior while on pretrial release as evidence as to whether or not they can follow rules and be rehabilitated. A defendant who obeys all conditions shows signs of understanding the situation and being able to move forward. A defendant who violates conditions or commits another crime may not be capable of improvement or recovery, which will leave the court more likely to sentence jail time over probation.