It’s a sad experience to be separated from your loved ones and put behind bars due to criminal charges. Fortunately, the court, through pretrial release, allows the accused to be released on bail or bond prior to the trial.
However, pretrial release comes with certain strict conditions and violating any of these conditions may attract severe legal consequences and negatively impact the case. In this article, we’ll clarify the potential consequences of violating the conditions of pretrial release and defense strategies to handle the consequences.
Background: Understanding Pretrial Release
Pretrial release, also known as bail, is the release of a person arrested for a crime offense from judicial custody. It’s a right to bail that applies to all arrested individuals except those charged with first-degree murder or treason.
Depending on the nature and severity of the case, the jury may either issue a pretrial release on own recognizance (ROR) or bail bond payment. The jury also pronounce some conditions of release to ensure compliance with court appearance and protect the victims, witnesses, and the community from potential danger. Such conditions of release may require the accused to do the following:
- To submit under the supervision of the designated probation officer.
- To ensure they appear in court.
- To refrain from committing other crimes, having guns or other dangerous weapons, or using any illegal drugs.
- To refrain from traveling out of the state and have contact with the alleged victim and potential witnesses.
- To submit to electronic monitoring.
Types of Pretrial Release Violations
Violating the terms of conditional release, otherwise known as breach of bail, can take various forms, including:
Failure To Appear (FTA)
FTA occurs when a defendant or defense attorney fails to appear before the court during the pretrial process. This is also referred to as bail jumping. Such offense in the U.S. may attract a fine, imprisonment, or both on the alleged offender.
Committing a new crime while out on release
This makes the court issue a warrant of arrest to a law enforcement officer for the arrest of the defendant who faces charges for the new crime. It may also amplify and negatively impact the outcome of the case.
Violating no-contact or restraining orders
The court prohibits people accused of severe offenses such as domestic violence crime from any direct or indirect contact with the alleged victim or their residence. Breaching this condition can prompt the court to order pretrial detention for the alleged offender or impose charges for invasion of privacy.
Failing to meet curfew or house arrest regulations
Both curfew and house arrest are imposed for two main reasons: the rehabilitation of defendants and public protection. This holds except during court appearances, attorney visits, medical or mental health treatment, or other approved activities by probation officers.
Using or possessing illegal drugs
The constructive possession of controlled substances like illicit drugs is a class C misdemeanor under the Connecticut Drug Policy, especially when such a person is on probation. Possession of substances such as marijuana, opiates, cocaine, and other illegal drugs can attract a fine or jail sentence of up to 3 months.
Tampering with electronic monitoring devices
These devices are usually in the form of an ankle or wrist bracelet that monitors a defendant’s location and sometimes their alcohol level or breath. The jury orders the installation of such devices to ensure that defendants remain within a defined custody and appear in court when necessary.
Traveling out of jurisdiction without permission
Defendants are usually restricted from traveling outside of a certain jurisdiction while on probation, except by obtaining permission from the court. Breaching this condition can revoke your conditional release and attract additional charges.
Consequences of Violating Pretrial Release
The court may order the arrest of the defendant when they violate pre-trial release conditions. The law enforcement officer receives an arrest warrant from the court – the legal document that authorizes them to put the offender behind bars pending trial.
Increased Bond Amount
Actions that defy the conditions of your pre-trial release, such as failing to appear in court by the defendant or their legal representation may cause the jury to revoke pretrial release, modify or even revoke your bond.
New Criminal Charges
According to the Penal code of Connecticut, a violation of pre-trial release conditions may prompt the court to continue or extend your sentence of probation, enlarge or modify the conditions of probation, or revoke your probation.
Stricter Pretrial Release Restrictions
Electronic surveillance devices are a supposedly lighter alternative to imprisonment. They help monitor the defendant to ensure they don’t violate the terms of release, especially travel restrictions. If you unlawfully tamper with these devices, the court may consider you a high-risk offender, and thus, intensify the surveillance devices and impose stricter conditions.
Loss of Pretrial Release Privileges
Violating the conditions of release may make the jury consider you a high risk to public safety or a high flight risk. This may prompt the court to withdraw your pre-trial release privileges. In some cases, the court may grant an extremely high bail, thus indirectly denying you bail when you cannot afford the bail amount.
Negative Impact on the Original Case
The judge may doubt your willingness to comply with the law and court orders when you violate pre-trial release conditions. Hence, they may show less leniency during plea negotiations or reject plea agreements.
Legal Recourses and Defense Strategies
The legal system provides some defense strategies that can help you avoid these consequences when you unintentionally violate the conditions for some valid probable cause. Such legal provisions and strategies include:
Demonstrating a genuine misunderstanding of conditions
The court may withdraw the consequences of violation if you can prove that the action was due to a genuine misunderstanding of the conditions of release. However, it’s crucial to note that since this defense strategy depends on the judge’s interpretation of your argument of misunderstanding, you should consult an attorney for proper strategy and guidance.
Prove an unintentional breach
This involves demonstrating to the court that the breach wasn’t deliberate or intentional. To prove your credibility, you must gather enough evidence to support your claims. For instance, you can provide witness testimonies attesting to your unintentional breach.
Prove the necessity of the violation
This legal recourse requires you to provide evidence showing that the violation was due to situations beyond your control, such as emergencies. Acceptable evidence may include police reports, medical records, or witness statements.
Moreover, you can demonstrate your integrity by notifying the court as soon as possible. Though not all excuses are considered valid, the court may consider some valid reasons to justify a failure to appear in court.
Challenging the evidence of the alleged violation
You can exonerate yourself from the consequences of pre-trial release if you are able to disprove the evidence of violation. Start by reviewing evidence of violations to identify loopholes, errors, and inconsistencies that invalidate the evidence. Examples of such errors include lapses in surveillance footage, witness testimonies, police reports, court orders, etc.
Tips to Avoid Violating Pretrial Release Conditions
Understand all conditions thoroughly
Ensure that read and understand all the conditions, paying careful attention to every detail. If you encounter any confusion, seek clarity from your attorney or the court. For instance, you should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney for expert guidance if you have a criminal case.
Regularly consult with your attorney
Your attorney can guide you by attending to your concerns and challenges and making sure you comply with the conditions of your release.
Establish a routine that helps adhere to conditions
You can also establish daily routines like curfews and check-in times, or book counseling sessions and other necessary programs.
Avoid people or places connected with criminal activities
Make sure to stay away from individuals or places related to criminal activities, as they can lead you to other potential allegations and new legal issues.
Report any changes or potential conflicts to the relevant authorities promptly.
If there are any circumstances that will cause you to breach the release conditions, report them immediately to your attorney and the court on time. For example, changes in residence, employment, or family situations.
Case Studies: Real-life Implications
For a practical understanding of the best recourse to avoid the potential consequences of a breach of bail, let’s consider the case of Tony, a cocaine addict who was arrested due to the illegal use of drugs prior to his trial. The court eventually granted him release on bail with a strict condition to attend a drug rehabilitation program.
Unfortunately, Tony had to miss several rehab sessions due to medical issues. However, Tony’s attorney informed the court of this situation and proved his commitment to rehab with medical reports. Eventually, he was able to avoid the consequences, and the judge allowed him to continue the rehab based on his willingness to comply. This case further illustrates that reporting adverse circumstances immediately and with the right evidence and genuine intent to comply may shield offenders from severe consequences.
In essence, adhering to the conditions of pre-trial release is important to avoid spending your days in jail while awaiting trial. It helps prove your credibility and nullifies all charges related to breach of bail, thus positively impacting the outcome of your case.
Also, don’t take the role of legal counsel for granted. A defense attorney can significantly reduce the risk of unintentional violations by guiding you through the complexities of the legal process.
If you or any of your loved ones is awaiting trial in jail, you can reach out to us at Connecticut Bail Bonds Group to handle all necessary paperwork, provide financing for bail bonds, and secure release seamlessly. Book a free consultation today to get started.