FEDERAL DETENTION HEARINGS
A detention hearing in federal court is very similar to a "bond" or "bail" hearing in state court. This is when the magistrate judge or federal judge will determine whether to grant pretrial release to a particular defendant. In the Eastern District of Virginia, this hearing is typically heard the same date as the arraignment. Every defendant has the right to an "immediate" detention hearing. However, the hearing may be continued for a short time by the defense or the government, or it may be withdrawn until your attorney is prepared with more information for the best chance for a bond.
Detention hearings are conducted pursuant to statute under 18 U.S. Code Section 3142. In many cases a defendant may be granted pretrial release on an unsecured bond (no money needs to be paid). Unless the judge finds that one of two risks are present: (1) that the person will not appear for future court hearings or court-ordered appearances (risk of flight); or, (2) that the person will commit any crimes or pose a danger to the public or community (danger to the community). That determination will depend upon the charges and multiple other factors, discussed below.
If a risk of flight or a danger to the community is present then the judge will determine whether a set of conditions would address those concerns. Things such as GPS monitoring, pretrial supervision, or drug or alcohol treatment programs are commonly employed to reasonable ensure the person will appear in court and will not pose an unreasonable danger to the community.
The judge will consider factors such as the type of crime, the weight of the government's evidence, and the criminal history and character of the defendant (this includes - prior court absences, drug abuse history, ties to the community, past conduct, length of residence in the community, employment, financial resources, and whether the defendant was on probation or parole at the time of the offense).
There is a presumption that a conditional release would not be appropriate for individuals charged with certain crimes. Those include crimes of violence, many drug crimes carrying a mandatory term of 10-years or more, many firearm crimes, terrorism crimes, and any crime that carries potential life imprisonment or the death penalty.
Federal criminal defense practice is complex. Your attorney may advise against a detention hearing, or may delay it until he or she is armed with more information. Obtaining a competent federal criminal defense attorney is the first important step to convince the judge that you or your loved one should be released. If you have a family member or friend facing federal criminal charges or a federal detention hearing then contact Brian M. Latuga, Esq. now, at (757) 687-3657.