If you are arrested and charged with a federal crime, you will need to go through a federal detention hearing to determine if you should be held in jail or if you will be allowed to remain free pending your arraignment. Your detention hearing will take place in front of a magistrate judge who will look at the U.S. Code to see what the determining factors might be for your case.

Factors that a magistrate judge will consider

Although specific cases will have special circumstances that a magistrate judge will need to consider, in general, they will use the following as guidelines:

  • Is it reasonable to expect that you will show up for future court appearances?
  • If you are released prior to arraignment, will you pose a threat to the community?
  • How strong is the government’s case against you?

The purpose of a federal detention hearing is to demonstrate to the magistrate judge that you are capable of meeting these standards and that there are enough conditions that can be put in place to ensure your cooperation and compliance moving forward.

Other considerations

Magistrate judges will also consider other factors in deciding whether or not you are a good candidate to return for future court appearances and the safety of the community. Specifically, they will look at:

  • The nature and circumstances of the offense, including whether or not it involves a minor, a controlled substance, a firearm or is an act of terrorism.
  • The weight of the evidence against the defendant.
  • The history and the characteristics of the defendant including their character, physical and mental condition, family and community ties, employment, financial state, criminal history, drug or alcohol abuse and your record for other court appearances.

The judge will also take into account the pretrial report which is prepared by a probation officer after interviewing a defendant. It is a summary of all the factors above, as well as a recommendation to the court for either release or detention.

The Law Office of Ginger Kelley serves clients in Newport Beach, Santa Ana and communities throughout Orange County, California.