Most of us can imagine few things worse than finding ourselves in the back of a police car, but for many people, that is where the nightmare begins. When you are placed under arrest and transported to a jail, whether it is for DUI or any other criminal offense your release, whether immediate or after seeing a judge, is not guaranteed.
Recently, I have found myself more frustrated by pre-trial conditions of release than I have been in quite some time. Perhaps it has just been the specific cases that I have been working on or it may be—and I fear it is—an institutional failing. For some charges you may be booked and immediately released. Other charges, like all domestic violence charges or a second offense DUI in a ten year period of time, require that you see a judge before you can be released from custody. If you are arrested on a Friday afternoon, you are unlikely to see a judge until the following Monday! That is a long time to spend in custody for a crime that you have not yet been convicted of, but it can get worse!
When you see the Judge who will review a statement of probable cause that has been crafted by the arresting officer and then determine “Conditions of Release.” Some people are released on their “Personal Recognizance” or “Promise to Appear.” But more often, there are additional conditions of release. These may include, but not be limited to– depending on the charge, your personal criminal history, the facts alleged in the complaint, your ties to the community, and the recommendations of law enforcement or the prosecuting authority, to:
- Limitations on where you can go;
- Prohibitions on the consumption of alcohol, marijuana and other non-prescribed drugs;
- Prohibitions on your right to possess firearms;
- Prohibitions on your driving or requirements that you not drive a car that is not equipped with an ignition interlock device;
- Prohibitions on your right to travel freely;
- Requirement that you attend pre-trial probation or court monitoring;
- Requirement that you wear an alcohol monitoring device;
- Requirement that you be on electronic home monitoring;
- Requirement that you post Bail.
The stated purpose of these pretrial conditions of release is two-fold; they are intended to keep the community safe from your wrongful conduct, and also to insure that you appear to face your charges at future court dates. These conditions can be expensive, confusing, create unintended victims (like children not being able to see a parent), can place a tremendous burden of responsibility on family, friends and finances, can interfere with a person’s ability to do their job or completely prevent them from doing it.
It is important that anyone who has been arrested make immediate contact with an attorney to assess what steps need to be taken to help mitigate their pre-trial conditions of release and to take steps to minimize their impact on your life. In many cases we have successfully had clients released from custody with very minimal impact on their lives because of actions that we have taken on their behalf in the 48 hours after their arrest.