Bail and Bond in Federal Cases

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Many of our clients are surprised when they find out just how different it is to face charges in federal court, as opposed to going before a state court. One of the major differences involves the issues of bail and bond.

In a federal case, shortly after a defendant’s arrest, the arresting agency (such as the DEA or FBI) will present the defendant to a Pretrial Services Officer for an interview. The Pretrial Services Officer will assess the defendant’s personal, financial, and criminal background, and then make a recommendation to the court as to whether the defendant should be released or detained pending trial. The court will review the Pretrial Services Officer’s recommendation, and then give the government and the defendant each the opportunity to present arguments regarding the propriety of a pre-trial release. However, even if a pre-trial release is granted, it will generally be subject to what is known as “bond conditions.”

Bail vs. Bond Conditions in Federal Court


Bail involves pledging money or other property to the court in order to persuade the judge to release the defendant pending trial. Bail is common in state criminal cases; however, in federal cases, it is an exception. Instead, federal magistrate judges typically impose conditions on the defendant’s release that are intended to guarantee the defendant’s return to court.

Bond Conditions

While federal judges have a number of options when it comes to imposing bond conditions to secure a defendant’s cooperation and return to court, most bond conditions focus in five areas:

  • That the defendant will not commit another offense,
  • That the defendant will cooperate with the assigned probation officer and allow the officer to monitor the defendant’s lifestyle,
  • That the defendant will not associate himself with people known or suspected to be criminals,
  • That the defendant will remain employed or otherwise gain lawful income, and
  • That the defendant will submit to and pass random drug tests.

If the judge grants release, he or she will educate the defendant about the consequences of non-compliance with the imposed bond conditions, which include revocation of release and an additional charge for violating a federal court order.

Challenges with Securing Bond in Federal Court

Without experienced representation, most defendants face significant challenges when it comes to securing bond in federal court. Pre-trial release is not guaranteed, and if the defendant has prior arrests or convictions for related offenses, these can be factors that weigh heavily against the judge granting bond. To counter these factors, experienced defense counsel will emphasize the presumption of innocence, the defendant’s deep integration in a lawful society, and other facts and circumstances that favor pre-trial release.

A Recent Case Study

To illustrate the issues involved in bond hearings, let’s look at a recent case in which the attorneys of The Criminal Defense Firm were successful in overcoming significant challenges in a federal drug detention hearing.

Our client was accused of being a member of federal drug conspiracy. He had a long history of drug possession, drug distribution, and drug dealings across the country, and he had assaulted, domestic violence, and aggravated assault charges on his criminal record as well. Additionally, he was considered a federal fugitive for not turning himself in.

When our attorneys took over the case, we presented our client to the judge and argued every single reason why he should not be in detention. in response, the government presented our client’s criminal history and put forward every possible legal argument for denying bond. After a highly contested hearing, the court granted a pre-trial release and issued a very favorable bond for our client.

Speak with One of Our Experienced Federal Criminal Defense Lawyers Today

Getting bond in your federal case is important. Whether you are facing pre-trial detention or detention has already been ordered against you, you should speak with one of our attorneys as soon as possible.

If you contact us today, one of our attorneys will review your case for free. To find out how we can seek federal bond or appeal your detention order, call 866-603-4540 or tell us about your situation online now.

This information has been prepared for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This information may constitute attorney advertising in some jurisdictions. Reading of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship. Prior results do not guarantee similar future outcomes. The Criminal Defense Firm is a Texas firm with headquarters in Dallas.
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