After an arrest for a Texas crime involving a controlled substance, most defendants are booked into jail. Everything they are carrying, including wallets, keys, and other possessions, is inventoried and placed into a locker. The booking officer will ask questions needed to fill out a form.

Most of those questions pertain to identifying information (height and weight, address, tattoos, etc.) and to information about medical conditions that might require attention while the suspect is in jail.

The arrested individual is then photographed and fingerprinted. The suspect is usually searched. If the suspect will enter the general jail population before being released, that search might include a strip search.

First Appearance and Steps

Shortly after a defendant’s arrest for a federal drug crime, the defendant is brought before a United States Magistrate for an initial appearance. The Magistrate can set bail at the initial appearance and will often do so in less serious cases.

If the government has requested or if the Magistrate is considering detaining the defendant without bail, the Magistrate will instead schedule a detention hearing within five days of the initial appearance. That gives the defendant time to obtain a lawyer and to prepare for the hearing.

Prior to the detention hearing, someone from the U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services Office will interview the defendant. The pretrial services officer will ask about the defendant’s family history, employment, criminal history, and personal circumstances.

The pretrial services officer might ask about the defendant’s drug use because drug addiction is a factor that might affect the court’s decision to release the defendant, as well as the conditions of bail that the court will impose.

It is always wise to have a lawyer present during the pretrial services interview. There may be questions that a defendant should decline to answer, particularly if detention without bail is likely. Defendants have a right to remain silent but they do not have the right to lie to federal employees. Telling a lie to a pretrial services officer is a crime. It is safer to deal with them though an attorney.

The pretrial services officer prepares a bail report for the court that is shared with the government and the defendant. The report will recommend detention or release on bail.

Release on Bond

An individual who is arrested without a warrant must be released on bond unless:

  • that individual is taken before a magistrate for a determination of probable cause within 24 hours after a misdemeanor arrest, or
  • that individual is taken before a magistrate for a determination of probable cause within 48 hours after a felony arrest.

The release can be postponed for up to 72 hours if a magistrate authorizes the postponement. The magistrate bases a probable cause determination upon the arresting officer’s sworn affidavit explaining the officer’s reasons for making the arrest.

When an arrested individual is taken before a magistrate, the magistrate can order that person’s release if the person was arrested without a warrant and the arrest was clearly not supported by probable cause. In most cases, the magistrate will find that probable cause exists and will set bail. Probable cause is assumed to exist if an arrest was made pursuant to an arrest warrant, so the magistrate will set bail without addressing the issue of probable cause.

Personal Bonds

In most cases, a magistrate can release a defendant on a personal bond without requiring the defendant or a surety to post money or other security for the defendant’s future appearances in court. In some cases involving an arrest for a serious drug crime, only the judge assigned to the case can order release on a personal bond.

Whether the magistrate will authorize a release on a personal bond or set cash bail depends upon the seriousness of the charges and the likelihood that the defendant will appear in court when required to do so. Defendants who are considered unlikely to flee (particularly those with jobs, houses, and children) have a better chance of being released on a personal bond than defendants who have no ties to the community.

Bond Conditions

The court will set conditions of bond, including the requirement that the defendant appear in court every time a personal appearance is required. In drug cases, a defendant may also be required to submit to drug tests or to participate in drug treatment as a condition of release. A variety of other conditions may be imposed, including the condition that the defendant commit no crimes and use no drugs after being released.

If the magistrate requires money to be posted to secure the defendant’s release, the defendant may need to post a surety bond. A surety bond can be obtained by paying a fee to a bail bondsman. The fee is usually a percentage of the bond amount.

Talk To a Lubbock Drug Attorney Today

If you have been arrested for a federal drug crime, you need immediate legal assistance to maximize your chance of being released on bail and to make sure you deal with the pretrial services officer effectively. Call Hamilton, Hull & Byrd to discuss your case with a federal criminal defense attorney.