Unlike the state court system, the federal bail bond system is complex and hard to navigate. Baling an arrestee from the federal court requires an experienced and skilled bail bonds agent. Additionally, it may take a few days or weeks before your loved one is set free. If your loved one is held behind bars for committing a federal offense, it is important for you to reach out to a licensed bail bond agency immediately. Federal crimes are complicated and can have lifelong consequences, which is why you need an expert to help you get your loved one out of jail. At Alomar Bail Bonds, we have bailed out thousands of clients facing federal charges in Pasadena, and we are ready to help you too.
What are Federal Charges?
When a defendant is charged with a federal offense, it means they violated both the state and federal laws of where the crime occurred. However, the defendant may violate the federal laws only and not the state ones. In most cases, those charged with federal crimes are people who cross state lines when committing a crime or a crime on federal properties such as a federal park. When facing a federal charge, it means that the U.S government will be present in the criminal prosecution making the prosecution process more complicated.
The Initial Appearance
After a defendant is arrested for committing a federal crime, their initial appearance will be before a magistrate judge, where the defendant will be issued the indictment. This complaint outlines the charges being filed against the defendant and any co-defendants. During this appearance, if the defendant does not have an attorney representing them, the court will appoint a federal public defender to represent them. He/she will briefly explain to the defendant their rights and address several threshold cases.
Detention Hearing/ Detention Appearance
At the detention hearing, you may raise extradition or mistaken identity issues. On rare occasions, the defendant may convince the court that the wrong person and the arrestee may be released. Other times, the defendant may be arrested in a jurisdiction when they have a pending case in state court and another jurisdiction in federal court or a different state. In this case, the defendant can contest extradition.
If the court believes that the defendant is not a flight risk and does not pose any danger to society, the court allows them to appear voluntarily in court. They appear in court through summons, a letter that notifies the defendant to appear in court voluntarily. The defendant must sign the summons and return them to court since they prove that you (the defendant) have received the notice. If you receive a summons, ensure you seek legal guidance on how you can remain free as you await trial.
To determine whether the defendant poses any risk to the community, the court may consider the following:
- The type of crime committed
- The mental and emotional condition of the defendant
- The criminal history of the defendant
- The motivation ad means of the crime
- Whether the offense was violent or not
The Pretrial Services
When you appear before a magistrate judge to determine your bond, the pretrial service department will investigate your background and relationship with the community. This department will advise the judge on whether you should be released or detained. If they recommend that you be released, they will also recommend the specific conditions of your release.
During this investigation, it is important to hire an attorney to help explain to the pretrial service department about your relationship with the community, any sureties willing to sign as third parties while posting bail bonds, and any property that may be used as collateral for the bond.
The report made by the pretrial department is to notify the court of two crucial factors that the court considers when deciding and setting a bond; If the defendant poses any risk to the society and if there is a flight risk if the defendant is set free.
Types of Federal Bonds
There are various forms that the bond can take; if the case is not serious, the court may allow the defendant to sign a signature bond which is a promise that the defendant will follow the rules of the pretrial release and that they will appear in court on the set dates. This type of bond is also referred to as an appearance bond. The defendant will not be required to use any collateral or money on their release as long as they comply with the court orders, making it the easiest way to bail a defendant out of the federal court.
The court may sometimes require collateral from sureties to support the request to release the defendant. This requires the defendant’s family or friends to issue a property with a 150% value of the bond, usually a home, to let the defendant be released. If the defendant violates the law during the pretrial release, the property may be forfeited to the government.
It is advisable to seek legal help from an attorney in negotiating an unsecured bond so that the surety can only sign a document as a promise to the court that the defendant will appear in court on the scheduled days. The third party should also attend the bail hearing in court as it helps convince the judge that the surety and the defendant's family will ensure that the defendant will appear in court without failure.
Once a defendant is released while awaiting trial, the pretrial service department will be in charge of monitoring them to ensure they abide by the set rules. The department will conduct regular check-ins to ensure that the defendant does not flee or they do not pose any harm to society. The defendant may also be subjected to GPS monitoring while on pretrial release.
If the defendant fails to appear in court or breaches the rules, they will likely face various consequences. For instance, they could be prosecuted for failure to appear in court, separately for contempt of court, or have their release order amended or revoked.
Before being released, the federal court will hold another hearing to determine the origin of money or collateral used to post the bond. The court does this to ensure that the assets used were not obtained illegally. You may be required to provide your accounting documents, banking records, tax returns, witness testimonies, and business records to prove this. Although this hearing may take longer, you cannot be released until it is completed and the court is convinced that the collateral or money used was obtained legally.
If the magistrate or judge determines that the set conditions do not guarantee the defendant's appearance in court, they can decide to detain them as they await trial. Due to the seriousness of the federal charges, most people end up being detained before trial. However, having an attorney by your side increases the chances of you receiving bail and being released on a bail bond.
What Qualifies as Collateral?
The property a defendant decides to use as collateral must equate to the bail equity. You can determine the equity of a property by minus the outstanding money owed against the property or lien from the market value. For instance, a property with a value of $450,000, with a mortgage balance of $300,000, its equity is $150,000. Federal courts are very strict on how the bonds are prepared, and you will need several documents to be allowed to use a certain property as collateral. Some of these documents include title reports, your appraisal, and other relevant documentation.
Federal Laws Related to Bail Bond Release
After an individual is arrested for a federal crime, there are two statutes that govern their release. 18 U.S.C.§ 3142 offers the court an option to set you free as you await trial. On the other hand, 18 U.S.C. § 4285 allows the court to offer financial support to enable the defendant to appear in court as scheduled if they cannot afford to do that.
18 U.S.C.§ 3142
This statute is significant in the detention and release of an individual facing federal charges. According to this statute, every defendant is expected to appear before a judicial officer following an arrest for committing a federal crime. The court can then decide to detain the defendant until their trial date or release them on their own recognizance. During the hearing, the defendant and the state both have an opportunity to state how they think the case should be ruled. This statute has four options related to the ruling. They include:
- Release the defendant on conditions
- Release the defendant on own recognizance or unsecured bond
- Detain the defendant temporarily as they await deportation or revocation
- Detain the arrestee until trial
Being Released on Own Recognizance
Being released on your own recognizance is among the most favorable options for a defendant since it means you do not have to post bail or be set free. However, for a defendant to be released on this type of release, they have to submit their DNA and k sign a contract stating that if they breach any of the set rules by either committing another federal or state crime, their release will be revoked and they will be re-arrested.
This law states that the judicial official in charge of the detention hearing may choose this option, but the law also allows the officer to reject this option if the release endangers other people or the defendant will likely fail to appear in court as scheduled.
Release on Conditions
There are several conditions that the court may set before releasing you. Some of these conditions include avoiding additional arrests and submitting DNA. There are also other conditions that the court can set in exchange for a federal defendant's release as they await trial. The conditions could include:
- Avoid contact with specific persons. E.g., a complaining witness of the case
- Commence or maintain education
- Seek or maintain employment
- Remain in the custody of the person designated to supervise you
- Report regularly to the law enforcement agency
- Refraining from owning or being in possession of a firearm
- Refraining from using drugs or narcotics
- Surrender of passports
- Curfew establishment
- The requirement to undergo a mental evaluation
- Satisfying all the set conditions
Temporary Detention to Allow Revocation
At times the prosecution may have different plans for the defendant, especially if he/she has violated the immigration laws or committed an additional offense while on bond release. In this case, the court will have an option to have the defendant detained until the government can have them removed or deported.
Note that this option is only available for the non-citizen federal defendants who are in the United States illegally. It can also apply to a person who was bonded out and is awaiting trial. This detention is short and can only take up to ten days, excluding weekends and holidays. This gives the prosecution time to initiate deportation or prepare a motion to rescind release.
The Difference Between Federal and State Charges
One of the main differences between the two is the source of the charges and the parties involved in the prosecution. In a state case, the prosecutor is empowered by an angle state to take the criminal charges of the accused to state court. Once the case is brought to the state court, it will follow its bail bond procedures. On the other hand, federal charges are handled in a federal court. Just as in a state court, the law allows a federal judge to set the bond or bail amount. Those facing federal charges are likely to have a higher bail than those in state court, even if they are being charged with the same offense.
The Difference Between Federal and State Bail Bond
The significant difference between the two is that federal bail bonds are more expensive compared to state bail bonds. Federal courts set higher bonds than state courts due to the complexity involved in federal cases. For example, there is a huge flight risk in federal criminal cases, which is why most bail bond companies ask for a 15% premium, unlike the 10% premium in state cases. In federal cases, the amount of collateral is expected to be 150% of the bond amount, which is higher than in-state cases. Additionally, federal charges have no bail schedule, so it is upon the judge to determine the bail amount based on several factors like the crime in question, your criminal history, and if you pose a risk to society.
Other differences include:
- Federal bonds may take longer ? Since there are several steps involved when posting bail bonds at the federal court, the process may take lower compared to the state court process. The process may take several weeks or even a month to complete. After the bail bond is approved, it can take other additional days for the defendant to be released.
- There are no bail schedules ? Federal bail bonds do not have a set bail schedule. In state bail bonds, the list of offenses and the amount of bail a defendant is likely to pay for each offense. However, in federal courts, the judge sets the bail bond amount depending on the crime in question and other personal opinions. This is why some bail bond amounts are very high.
- The collateral is required in full ? Another significant difference is that you will need to provide full collateral from the beginning in a federal bail bond. A federal defendant cannot be released by paying a small percentage of the bail bond amount. You must have the required assets and money to cover the bail bond amount for the defendant to be released, failure to which the defendant remains in custody.
- Breaching release conditions may cause forfeiture ? If you break the conditions set for the bail bond, the bond may be forfeited. For example, if one of the bond conditions is to travel or avoid certain people and the defendant goes against the condition, the court can forfeit. This means the court will seize the cash and collateral posted, and the defendant will be put back in jail.
- Nebbia hearings ? In federal bail bonds, you must attend the Nebbia hearing to ascertain that you have the cash and collateral required and that it is obtained legally. In other words, this hearing is meant for you to prove to the court that you can secure the bail bond using “clean” money or property.
Find a Federal Bail Bond Agent Near Me
Posting a federal bond is important as it allows the defendant to move on with their everyday life activities as they await trial. If you are facing federal charges, working with an experienced and reputable bail bonds company is important to obtain release. At Alomar Bail Bonds, we provide federal bail bonds for defendants facing federal charges in Pasadena. Call us today at 626-449-4118.