Detention Hearings

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Detention Hearings

A detention hearing is a proceeding before a judge to determine whether the accused individual is to be detained (or continue to be held), or to be released while their case is pending. A pretrial detention hearing in a federal court is similar to a bail hearing in a state court.

In some cases, the government may desire that the defendant be held without bail while the case is pending. The government would then file a motion for detention, and a judge would hear evidence to determine if the defendant should be detained or released with conditions. A judge will usually detain the defendant if he or she finds a reason to believe that the individual committed a crime punishable by a long sentence period. If the defendant is released with conditions, the conditions stipulated will ensure that the individual will appear in court as required and not cause harm to the community.

Deciding Factors

While a federal detention hearing can be waived by a defendant who strategically wishes to remain in custody pending the outcome of the case, many defendants wish to move forward with a detention hearing.

When a detention hearing is sought, the hearing is governed by the Bail Reform Act of 1984 – 18 USC 3142. This sets the burden of proof based on the charges and requires the judge to set the least restrictive conditions to maintain the safety of the public and secure the presence of the defendant at trial.

The defendant has a right to an attorney at a detention hearing, and the defense is entitled to cross-examine witnesses and present evidence. The government’s request for detention will be granted or denied, and if released, the defendant may be required to submit to electronic monitoring, to stay with a custodian, to have their travel restricted, or to be supervised by a probation officer.

The likelihood of release depends on the nature of the crime. Citizens accused of white-collar crimes with no criminal history will usually be released whereas those accused of violence, child pornography, or terrorism are unlikely to be released.

How Dysart Willis Can Help

Within 48 hours of being served a federal arrest warrant, the defendant will be brought for a first appearance before a federal magistrate judge. A defendant charged with a federal crime should begin looking for a criminal defense attorney immediately. There will be an opportunity at the first appearance to request that an attorney be appointed, but engaging the services of a competent attorney at the earliest opportunity–including before charges are brought– could give a defendant a significant advantage. At this initial hearing, the judge will appoint an attorney to represent the defendant, and the defendant should begin looking for his criminal defense attorney immediately.

Before the detention hearing, an individual from the U.S. Probation Office will interview the defendant. The defendant must be prepared for and informed about the potential impact of this meeting, as the officer may ask the individual questions, like a history of drug and alcohol use. Revealing such information can, for example, cause the court to be less willing to release the defendant.

In almost all cases, the detention hearing acts as the accused individual’s only opportunity to be released before trial.

The attorneys at Dysart Willis can help you by:

  • Identifying the ideal custodian,
  • Guiding the initial meeting with the U.S. probation officer,
  • Representing you at a contested detention hearing,
  • Leveraging a probable cause hearing to learn what evidence the government believes it has against you, or even
  • Negotiating conditions of release prior to arrest to avoid a contested detention hearing

Contact Us Today

Defendants representing themselves often make the mistake of informing the court of all the facts they consider essential. In doing so, they may reveal incriminating information. If you are facing federal criminal charges and a detention hearing, seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. A knowledgeable lawyer can represent you adequately at this stage and throughout the proceedings. If you want to learn more about what the attorneys at Dysart Willis can do for you, contact us at 919-747-8380 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation.