Bail Denial

What Factors Lead to Bail Denial in Federal Criminal Cases?

Let's review the most common factors causing the denial of bail in federal criminal cases. Some court rulings have highlighted the factors that can lead to the denial of bail in federal criminal cases. This crucial aspect of the United States judicial system ensures the accused's appearance at later court proceedings while allowing them to remain free until trial.

Notably, the purpose of bail is not to punish a defendant but to protect the community and maintain the integrity of the judicial process. You need to understand, however, that pretrial release on bail is not a guarantee.

Bail Denial in Federal Criminal Cases
There are many different reasons a judge might deny bail in federal criminal cases.

18 U.S. Code 3142 release or detention of a defendant pending trial says, 

(a) Upon the appearance before a judicial officer of a person charged with an offense, the judicial officer shall issue an order that, pending trial, the person be—

(1) released on personal recognizance or upon execution of an unsecured appearance bond under subsection (b) of this section;

(2) released on a condition or combination of conditions under subsection (c) of this section;

(3) temporarily detained to permit revocation of conditional release, deportation, or exclusion under subsection (d) of this section; or

(4) detained under subsection (e) of this section.

Bail means releasing somebody after an arrest after a bail hearing upon their promise to appear in subsequent judicial criminal court proceedings. Suppose a defendant is unable to meet the conditions for release. In that case, the federal judge can deny bail.

What is the Bail Reform Act of 1984?

The Bail Reform Act of 1984 significantly changed the bail process in federal criminal cases.  It repealed the Bail Reform Act of 1966 and created new bail procedures, codified under 18 U.S. Code Chapter 207, Sections 3141-3156.

Bail Reform Act of 1984

Simply put, this federal legislation dramatically impacted how judges decide who is granted pretrial release. Notably, this Act authorizes preventive detention, which allows a defendant's pretrial incarceration if they believe they will endanger the community's safety if released on bail.

This means you could be denied bail if the magistrate determines no amount of set conditions could ensure public safety or the defendant's later appearance in court.

After you are arrested for a federal offense, the first court appearance before a judge is where a complaint or indictment lists the criminal charges. If you do not have a private attorney, you will be appointed a federal public defender, who will ensure your statutory rights and discuss case details.

Sometimes, a federal judge could deny bail or set it so high that you would not have a reasonable chance to afford it.

When Can Bail Be Denied?

Under the Bail Reform Act and other factors, bail is typically denied if the defendant is considered a flight risk or a danger to the community. However, there are other factors considered by a federal judge. Let's review below when a judge can deny bail and enforce pretrial detention until your federal trial occurs:

  • Flight risk - Bail is often denied if the court believes you are a flight risk based on financial resources, ties to the community, or a prior failure to appear in court.
  • Violent crime - If you are accused of a particularly violent crime, the judge might decide you are a potential threat to the community.
  • Terrorism-related crime – In these cases, bail will be denied because your release will be considered an extreme threat to public safety.
  • Crime punishable by death or life imprisonment – In these cases, you are a threat, and the court will say you should not have access to pretrial release.
  • Drug-related crimes – if you are charged with certain drug crimes when the penalty is over ten years, you will not be eligible for release.
  • Prior convictions – if you have a prior record of felony offenses, the court could consider it a basis for denying bail.
  • Probation violation – if you commit a crime while on probation or parole, the court will typically deny bail because you show no regard for the law.
  • Obstruction of justice – if there is a chance you might try to obstruct justice, such as juror intimidation, the court could deny bail.
  • Witness tampering – If there is a chance you might try to intimidate witnesses from testifying, they could deny bail.

While these factors listed above are the main reasons for bail denial in federal court, there are also other reasons judges may use to make a decision.

What Are the Related Federal Statutes?

18 U.S. Code Chapter 207 Release and Detention Pending Judicial Proceedings have numerous related federal laws, such as the following:

  • 18 U.S.C. 3141 - Release and detention authority generally;
  • 18 U.S.C. 3142 - Release or detention of a defendant pending trial;
  • 18 U.S.C. 3143 - Release or detention pending sentence or appeal;
  • 18 U.S.C. 3144 - Release or detention of a material witness;
  • 18 U.S.C. 3145 - Review and appeal of a release or detention order;
  • 18 U.S.C. 3146 - Penalty for failure to appear;
  • 18 U.S.C. 3147 - Penalty for an offense committed while on release;
  • 18 U.S.C. 3148 - Sanctions for violation of a release condition;
  • 18 U.S.C. 3149 - Surrender of an offender by a surety;
  • 18 U.S.C. 3150 - Applicability to a case removed from a state court;
  • 18 U.S.C. 3151 - Refund of forfeited bail;
  • 18 U.S.C. 3152 - Establishment of pretrial services;
  • 18 U.S.C. 3153 - Organization and administration of pretrial services;
  • 18 U.S.C. 3154 - Functions and powers relating to pretrial services;
  • 18 U.S.C. 3155 - Annual reports;
  • 18 U.S.C. 3156 – Definitions.

Can You Improve Your Chances of Release on Bail?

Suppose you are a defendant in a federal criminal case, and the circumstances raise concerns about whether you will be released pending trial. In that case, you might be able to improve your chances of getting a pretrial release.

Can You Improve Your Chances of Release on Bail?
Contact our law firm for a free case evaluation.

The first step is to retain a federal criminal defense attorney who can effectively argue for your release on bail by presenting favorable evidence to the judge.  They can also challenge a prosecution's arguments to keep you in custody.

Your lawyer might be able to show your connections to the local community, family ties, employment, and charitable work. These factors might convince the judge you are not a flight risk.

Perhaps we can show the court you have stable living conditions and are responsible and reliable. Maybe we can show the judge your willingness to abide by the terms of a conditional release, such as travel restrictions, surrendering passport, drug testing, and regular check-ins.

Perhaps we can provide the court with character letters from reputable people, such as religious or community leaders. Maybe you have been cooperative and have demonstrated respect for the law. Our law firm offers legal representation throughout the United States on federal criminal issues. The Hedding Law Firm has offices in Los Angeles, California.

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