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Best Federal Lawyers explain the two most important factors in federal bail determinations

by | Oct 21, 2023 | Firm News

Best Federal Lawyers explain the two most important factors in federal bail determinations. The first significant decision that needs to be made by the court when a defendant is charged with a federal crime is whether he/she will remain in custody until the time of trial, or whether he will be granted release on bond. The significance of this cannot be understated. It is important to the defendant and his/her loved ones that release be granted. Indeed, being held in custody can have a serious practical impact on the defendant and his/her family, including but not limited to loss of earrings and other support – not to mention the devastating emotional and psychological impact that being detained in custody can have on both the defendant and his/her family. In making the decision to grant or deny bail, the court – normally initially a federal Magistrate Judge – will rely upon two factors: 1) risk of flight, and 2) danger to the community. However, from an overall perspective, the defendant should be granted pre-trial release unless there is no combination of conditions that can satisfy 1) and 2). Nonetheless, the court has great discretion in making a bond determination, and the federal Circuit Courts of Appeal rarely overturn those decisions. In fact, those bond decisions are rarely even appealed to the federal Circuit Courts at all. The concept of risk of flight is somewhat self-explanatory, but of course is always dependent upon the facts and circumstances underlying each particular case and each particular defendant. For example, a defendant might be considered a risk of flight if he/she has a history of non-compliance with prior orders of court in other matters, including orders with respect to bond on those cases; or the defendant is from, or has significant ties to, another country: or the defendant is facing an extraordinarily long sentence if convicted. With respect to the concept of danger to the community, the defendant may be considered to present such a danger if, by way of example only, he/she has a history of engaging in acts of violence, including by way of prior convictions; or is accused of committing an act or acts of violence in connection with the federal case before the court;  or has a history of engaging in drug transactions or other illegal conduct. The facts that can be raised by federal prosecutors in support of arguments that the defendant should be detained are endless, and are tied to the circumstances underlying each case and the background of the particular defendant. Likewise, the facts that can be raised by defense counsel in arguing for bond in a federal case are similarly endless. In future posts, we will address some of the issues that arise during federal bond hearings. Overall, it is extremely important for a federal criminal defendant to be represented by experienced counsel who can make strong arguments, including sometimes creative ones, in support of the defendant’s release on bond. Leonard Trial Lawyers has decades of that type of experience.

Michael Leonard

Leonard Trial Lawyers

October 21, 2023