When an individual is charged with a federal crime, whether by Complaint or Indictment, they are entitled to a Bail Hearing under Title 18 U.S.C. Section 3141 et seq. Under the relevant statute, a person may be released on a personal recognizance bond or unsecured appearance bond; on a condition or combination of conditions; or detained. The standard for the court is whether the person will appear for all proceedings and not be a danger to the community.

A personal recognizance bond or unsecured appearance bond is a document that the defendant signs, at times along with other family members or friends who are “responsible parties,” that states that the defendant will abide by all conditions of release and appear at all court appearances.  If the defendant fails to do so, he and the responsible parties will owe a set sum of money to the government. In the District of New Jersey, even an unsecured appearance bond may result in a lien being placed on the signors real estate holdings until the case is completed.

Release on conditions — or a combination of conditions — is done to reasonably assure the court that person will appear and will not endanger the safety of any other person or the community.  Such conditions may include: that the person not commit any other federal, state or local crime; remain in the custody of a designated person; maintain employment or continue in school; no drug or alcohol use; avoid all contact with victims or witnesses; regular reporting to Pre-Trial Services; the setting of a curfew; travel restrictions; electronic monitoring; no firearms in house; undergo psychological counseling; execution of an agreement to forfeit property is there is a violation of these conditions; or any other reasonable condition set by the court.

If no combination of conditions can reasonable assure that the person will not flee or is a danger to the community, then the court may order that person to be detained. Certain violent crimes and drug offenses have a presumption of detention that the defendant must overcome to be released.

The court has wide discretion in setting the combination of conditions for release. Property may be posted by the defendant or close friends or family members. The court will require sufficient equity in the property to satisfy the monetary amount set for bail, and will require a copy of the deed, proof that the mortgage and taxes are up to date, and an appraisal of the property. The court will also limit the defendant’s travel, usually to the District or state of the charges, with permission to travel outside of that area with preapproval by the court and/or Pre-Trial Services. The court may also require electronic monitoring – usually a device placed on one’s ankle – that alerts Pre-Trial Services if the person leaves their home during hours they are not permitted to.

Often, defense counsel and the Assistant U.S. Attorney, working with Pre-trial Services, can agree on a set of conditions for release. When no agreement can be reached, then the individual must have a contested bail hearing before a Magistrate-Judge who will determine whether there is a combination of conditions that will insure the defendant’s appearance and the safety of the community.

Regardless of how stringent the release conditions, none of the time on pre-trial release is counted towards the person’s sentence. Even strict home confinement with electronic monitoring does not count. Only pre-trial detention is counted as part of the ultimate sentence.

Experienced federal criminal defense counsel is essential when an individual is charged with a federal crime. The requirements to be released can be complex and are always case specific.

Stahl Gasiorowski Criminal Defense Lawyers aggressively defend individuals charged with complex federal and state crimes. Founder Robert G. Stahl is recognized as one of the top criminal defense attorneys in the NY/NJ area for his skills, knowledge and success. To contact us to discuss your case, call 908.301.9001 for our NJ office and 212.755.3300 for our NYC office, or email us at rstahl@stahlesq.com.