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Juror who prompted calls for new Ghislaine Maxwell trial turns to lawyer who defended Anna Sorokin.
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Last Updated on: 11th October 2023, 01:48 am
When someone is arrested and charged with a crime, the court has to decide whether to let them out of jail before their trial. This is called pre-trial release. The court looks at factors like the seriousness of the charges, the defendant’s criminal history, and their likelihood of showing up for court dates when making this decision. If the court decides to let the defendant out before trial, they will set certain rules and requirements that the defendant has to follow called conditions of release. These are meant to ensure the defendant comes back for their trial and doesn’t commit more crimes before their case is resolved.There are a few main types of pre-trial release conditions that courts commonly use:
This is when the court lets the defendant out without having to pay any bail money. It’s basically the court’s way of saying, “we trust you to come back to court when you’re supposed to.” The defendant just promises that they will show up for all their court dates. This is the least restrictive type of pre-trial release.
Bail is money that the defendant has to give the court as a guarantee that they will return for trial. The amount is based on the charges against them. If they come back for court like they are supposed to, they get the bail money back at the end of the case. But if they miss court dates, the bail money is kept by the court. There are a couple ways bail can work:
Bail is meant to give the defendant a financial incentive to come back and not skip town. But it has been criticized for unfairly keeping poor defendants locked up who can’t afford bail while letting wealthy defendants go free.
Instead of making the defendant pay bail, the court puts them under the supervision of a pretrial services agency. This means the defendant has to check in regularly with a pretrial officer, usually by phone or in person. The pretrial officer will monitor whether the defendant is complying with any other release conditions ordered by the court. Pretrial supervision provides accountability without requiring the defendant to pay money upfront.
Courts can also order defendants to follow other rules of release besides just showing up for court. Common pretrial release conditions include:
The court tries to impose the least restrictive conditions necessary to get the defendant back to court and protect public safety. More serious charges generally come with more intense pretrial supervision. Defendants on pretrial release must follow the court‘s rules – violating conditions can lead to bail revocation or pretrial detention.
Setting appropriate pretrial release conditions serves some important purposes in the criminal justice system:
While pretrial release serves important purposes, there are also controversies around how conditions are set and whether they are effective:
There are active debates around reforming the pretrial process to set fairer release conditions, hold released defendants accountable, reduce disparities, and improve public safety. Carefully tailored supervision, reminders about court dates, diversion programs, and support services are promising ways some jurisdictions are working to improve outcomes.
Having an attorney is crucial for defendants at the pretrial release stage. Public defenders and court-appointed lawyers help ensure defendants understand the charges against them, their rights and options, and the consequences of violating release conditions. Attorneys argue for reasonable, affordable bail and pretrial supervision plans tailored to the individual client. Legal aid also helps people at risk of detention due to poverty to pay bail or bond fees they otherwise couldn’t afford. Quality legal representation is key to making pretrial release fair and effective.
Pre-trial release allows defendants to fight their criminal cases without being jailed the entire time before trial. If the court decides to release a defendant, conditions of release are imposed to reasonably ensure the person comes back to court and doesn’t threaten public safety. Bail, supervision, electronic monitoring, drug testing, stay away orders, and other rules provide accountability.
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