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Federal Bail, Detention Hearing

After an arrest takes place and a criminal case is initiated by a state, county or other local prosecutorial body one of the first things that will be determined is if the defendant should be released on bail while they await trial.

At a bail hearing, a member of the prosecution and the defendant's attorney will each lay out their reasoning in front of a judge who will make a decision based on the points of view presented by both attorneys as well as evidence alleged relating to the crime, facts known about the defendant, their history and previous criminal record.

The defendant's lawyer may submit documentation to the court relating to the accused's character as well as attempt to show that their release pending trial would in no way be a threat to the general public as well as demonstrating that the risk of flight would be extremely unlikely. All of these measures would be specified in their attempt to have their client released on their own recognizance, or to have the limit of their bail set to the lowest possible sum. The prosecutor in the case may argue the opposite in their attempt to influence a judge's decision for not allowing bail to be granted and have the judge select remand, or impose a higher calculated amount to allow the accused to be granted their temporary liberty at a higher monetary price while the case progresses.

Being released on bail in a federal case will differ in some respects as will be explained below. However there are certain criminal charges that will make it impossible or at the least more difficult to achieve release on bail than other crimes.

If the case involves a capital offense there is very little chance that bail will be granted. In other homicides or violent crimes such as murder or aggravated battery whether the case is brought forward by the state or the federal government a judge may not consider bail for the accused. Other reasons that may cause a judge to disallow bail are if it's learned that the defendant has other outstanding warrants, they previously did not show up for hearings in the past, or was arrested while serving a probationary sentence or out on parole among others.   

Many people may think that bail is guaranteed under the Constitutional but in literal terms there is nothing that states this to specifically be the case. However, the interpretation of the fourteenth amendment states that no individual may be deprived of liberty without due process for a prolonged period of time without being charged with a crime. Based on this concept most bail hearings take place within 72 hours after the accused is arrested.

Differences in a Federal Bail
In a bail hearing conducted by a court other than federal, if bail is granted the accused or their proxy (friends, relatives) will usually have to pay ten percent of the full amount considered by a judge. It is the business of a bail bond company to put up the balance of the amount requested. Of course for them to do so they would make sure that there is proper collateral to back the amount of funds laid out. Examples of these types of collateral are bank or brokerage accounts with assets exceeding the amount that the bail bond company will lay out, appraised property (real estate) and other items that can be converted to cash in the event that the accused does not return to court on specified dates or another situation occurs that causes their bail to be revoked.

In a federal detention hearing a federal judge has three choices that can be decided. They can either release the accused with or without conditions or detain them. The two major factors the judge will weigh for making their decision is whether they believe the release will reasonably assure a return to court, or if it won't, and if a danger to the community exists by doing so. This is one reason among many why it is important to have an attorney whose practice concentrates in matters of federal law by your side at the hearing.

If it is determined by a federal judge that bail will be granted the amount that must be paid directly to the court is fifteen percent. Additionally, a bail bondsman is not used. Unlike a bail bondsman used in courts other than federal, bonds of this type require the full amount to be paid if the defendant violates the terms of their bail or does not show up for scheduled hearings or trial. This percentage would actually act as a down payment in the instance where the bail agreement is violated as the full amount would be due to the court in that type of situation.

A Federal Magistrate or Judge would decide what the amount of bail will be, all its conditions, and how it will be provided to the court. Conditions of bail can vary from remaining in the custody of the person who put up the bail, to maintaining employment or education if they have been working or going to school, among many others available for the judge to impose.

The percentage must be paid directly to the court in cash or equity of real estate with an appraised value that covers the full amount. This assists giving the court an assurance that the defendant will make timely appearances and meet any other conditions set by the bail agreement. The court may require additional items to secure the bond which may include a personal guarantee from those posting the funds or pledging the real property. The surrender of the accused's passport may also be requested while the defendant is not under the control of the court or penal system.

Facing federal charges without the proper representation can easily become a nightmare if a criminal defense attorney is hired that doesn't have the suitable experience in the federal system. It is important to keep in mind that not all criminal defense lawyers are accomplished in federal law. If you or someone close to you becomes aware that a federal investigation has been initiated or an arrest for a federal crime has taken place it is crucial that you consider the best attorney with a strong background within the federal legal system to lead an effective and strong defense.   

Highlights of my experience is this area of the law include over thirty-five years of courtroom experience as an Assistant Federal Prosecutor for the government as well as many years as a successful federal criminal defense attorney through my practice located in Fort Lauderdale which now serves the Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County area of South Florida as well as all other jurisdictions within the state.

If you or someone you care about has been charged with any federal crime call my law office as early as possible for the best defense available for any allegations that deal with all federal crimes.

To read a full list of my qualifications and what you should do if you are facing federal charges or any other criminal allegations, click here.