Virginia Criminal Attorney has 24 years of experience and expertise in criminal defense. We have a team of highly dedicated lawyers dealing with criminal defense for residents of the Fairfax and other Northern Virginia cities. Among our services is representing people who are accused of failing to comply with pre-court services, and try to ensure they get positive outcomes in the case.
Pre-Court Services Under Virginia Law
The US federal and district judicial departments in the Virginia Commonwealth are constituted in the Office of Adult Court Services. Their services include:
- Pre Court Services and Community Labor Programs,
- Probation, Restitutions of Victims and Costs, Community Criminal Board administration, monitoring of fines and grant writing.
Pre-court services link the judiciary with the community. A pre-court officer help to investigate and supervise convicts and their roles significantly advance the court’s administration of fairness and justice. Pre-court service officers’ assist the defendant as they wait to undergo trial. They strive to ensure that the defendant doesn’t engage in further criminal activity during this period. They also provide rehabilitation and emotional support to the defendant during the trial period. The officers are trained at The Federal Pretrial Resource Center now known as Pretrial Justice Institute. The institute was founded in 1977 to provide technical and training to pre-court service providers.
A survey conducted in 2009 showed that 74 % of pre-court services are distributed as follows in the following departments: the probation departments with 35%, the courts carry 23% and the other 16% in penitential institutions. Independent state or federal agencies have a further 14% while non-profit organizations are 8%.
What is a Violation of Pretrial Release?
A defendant can be released from jail while the criminal case is still pending. The process begins with the hearing, and if one meets the threshold, the court determines the release option that fits your argument. The judge can choose from own recognizance, personal plea, or bonds. The defendant is then released to the supervision of a pre-court officer who ensures compliance with court bail terms and that the accused appears before the courts every time for trial.
Pre-court service officers supervise the person’s life in the community until they return to court. Other agencies such as bail bonds and community-based organizations also assist in ensuring that the defendant complies with all pre-court services. In case of any violations to the terms of release, the pre-court services officer makes a recommendation for bail revocation and detention of the accused.
How Does a Pre-Court Services Officer Investigate?
The accused person, once free from custody, is handed over to the custody of a pre-court officer. Failure to comply with pre-court services causes damage to the defendant’s upcoming criminal defense trial. The legal stain may stick on their criminal record and be detrimental towards any future legal matters that may come.
Pre-court service officers investigate the defendant on behalf of the court by collecting and verifying the individual’s information. The investigations vary depending on the crime, but they range from interviews with the defendants or their family, financial investigations, health records, education, employment, and any history of crime or substance abuse. Pre-court officers then compile reports shared with the court. These reports enable the bench to decide on whether the defendant should be released or detained. The officer is responsible for:
While being universal and impartial, the pre-court officer screens all defendants arrested with an aim to determine their suitability for release. Demographics, residence, education, employment, and substance or mental status facts are gathered to assist in the review. If you pass the qualifications, then a recommendation for your release is presented to the court.
Verification of information:
To verify the defendant’s report, the pre-court officer contacts the references provided in the interview. A criminal record and outstanding warrant search are carried out with local and federal databases. They also check whether there is parole, probation, or prereleases before the current arrest.
The officer has to assess all the pre-court services risk and the possibilities of the offender to commit another crime.
Report to court officials:
To mitigate risk upon a pre-court release, the officer recommends bail conditions according to risk assessed and include diversion eligibility. Pre-court services officers may be available in courthouses and will appear during the session to submit written reports.
Following up with defendants who don’t secure release at the initial stage also falls under the roles of a pre-court services officer. Maybe the information given during the interview was untrue, or they couldn’t afford bail. The officer can make recommendations after consulting the court, which may pass lighter conditions for release.
There are various conditions set by the court for bail depending on the case and risk assessment of the defendant. To ensure these conditions are observed, a pre-court services officer makes regular visits to the defendant, performs substance abuse tests, and ensures treatment regime compliance.
Pre-court services programs depend on safety outcomes, success, and concurrence rates. Stopgap measures such as the rate of response to violations, recommendations, and intervention are continually used to improve pre-court services.
What is the Purpose of Pre-Court Services?
According to the US constitution, a person is innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, the officers conducting investigations take a neutral stance and do not divulge any information either to the defendant or their relatives about the criminal charge. Pre-court services officers then analyze the defense’s information. This information helps to determine the risks of the defendant’s release to society and helps the officer to make the necessary recommendations to the court.
Moreover, the pre-court service officers conduct investigations and community supervision to person’s arrested with federal crimes. The law dictates that a defendant should either be detained or released after being charged, and the pre-court services officer comes up with a report detailing these recommendations. Whether a defendant gets a release or detention recommendation from pre-court services mainly depends on the officer’s research. Main factors considered are the possibilities and lack of continued criminal activity by the defendant.
Pre Court Hearing:
A pre-court hearing or conference is held to clarify legal issues and narrow the matters to be tried. The meeting is between the state prosecutor and the defendant’s legal counsel in the presence of a judge. The meeting attempts to work out the modalities and the possibility of a deposition. These legal matters are governed by state or county judicial rules and may vary depending on court level. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, they generally include;
- Admissibility of evidence and statements
- Pretrial identifications of parties to the suit
- Compliance report of the pre-court services
- Court session attendance reports
- Public safety and community observance
- Screening services reports
- Electronic surveillance data
The adoption of a justice system and risk assessment tools across the Commonwealth of Virginia has dramatically improved the efficiency of pre-court services. The court’s use risk assessment validations at pre-trial, hearing, probation, and sentencing, while the parole boards apply them to formulate appropriate strategies. These assessment reports make it more efficient for the judge to pass a pre-court release. Moreover, the reports allow judges to mitigate the risks of failure to comply with pre-court services. The officer must ensure accuracy when presenting the information, while the judge is required to keenly scrutinize the document to avoid any mistakes in the judgment.
Some legal statutes in place within the Commonwealth of Virginia help in setting the release bonds according to the crime. In such circumstances, the court is unable to control the defendant’s risk level since their financial capabilities determine their potential to clear the bond. This way, low-risk defendants without the means of paying their bonds make up a substantial part of the prison population while non-compliant offenders are released. When cash-based rules fail, an assessment is used as the deciding factor since it mitigates risk to victims, families, and defendants.
Pre-Court Services Investigation
The court carries out specific investigations during the defendant’s pretrial release time that depend on their risk assessment report. According to article 5 of the Pretrial Services Act 19.2-152.4.3 of the Virginia General Assembly, the duties of a pre-court services officer shall be to ensure that on state and local warranted arrests;
- Investigations on defendants placed on supervision by the court fall under the pre-court services officer who provides that there is no failure to comply with Pre-court services;
- Make a pre-court investigation report and recommend either a release or continued detention of the defendant;
- Depending on a defendant's risk assessment report, conduct random substance abuse exams where the court has ordered and whose bail conditions stipulate such restrictions;
- Effecting article 19.2 – 152.4:1 for failure to comply with pre-court services or a capias. Where freedom and noncompliance to bail terms are presetting risks to defendants or the public or there is a possibility of flight, the pre-court services officer seeks capias;
- The pre-course services officer provides information on the defendant that pertains to the case and may be required by law enforcement officers or the court;
- Place a defendant with substance abuse restrictions and a therapy order from the court in a facility for treatment;
- Signs for a defendant’s custody who is under investigations and released to pre-court services’ supervision, sometimes as the only term of bail or when together with an unsecured bond;
- Supervise and monitor electronic surveillance compliance by the defendant as a means of meeting bail or supervision conditions;
- Subject to approvals or court requests, conduct coordination of the investigated defendant, services for counsel appointed by the court, or interpretation of services for foreigners with language difficulties or to deaf defendants;
- May seek to find the cause, if necessary, to prevent the many appearances to the court by the defendant as some cases require subsequent conferences before the main trial.
Consequences of Failure to Comply With Pre-Court Services
The court issues a warrant of arrest and return to detention to any defendant who shows an irregular court appearance routine, commits further crimes, or disappear altogether. The officer supervises the defendant within the community to mitigate risks to public safety and makes sure they comply with the conditions of release. Pre-court services will address issues propagating a defendant’s failure to comply with the bail conditions. Phone and personal contact calls are made to the defendant’s home, their workplaces, or at the pre-court services.
These conditions must not be restrictive to ensure the defendant complies with pre-court services. Sometimes, a defendant may be subjected to:
- Substance testing and therapy
- Employment orders and maintenance
- Electronic monitoring
- Assessment for fees
- Community services
- Psychological evaluations
Pre-Court Services Performance in Virginia
Due to the low rates of failures to comply and pre-court rearrests, most defendants are safely released on their own recognizance. Additionally, the formalized programs by the courts ascertain the compliance of most individuals. Different studies on the matter show that with pre-court service supervision of a released defendant, there is more accountability and the risk of failure to comply with pre-court services is minimal.
With pre-court services, the community realizes cost reduction without endangering public safety. These services have become a mainstay of rehabilitation and probation that some counties have effectively contracted them to nonprofit organizations. By making use of available resources efficiently, they have validated the practical tools to maintain public safety focus. Reforms in pre-court services in the Virginia Commonwealth have led to safer streets, a transparent legal system, and accountability to the community’s investments.
With success levels up to 97%, defendants who comply with pre-court services are benefiting from the Bail Clause of the 8th Amendment. This clause ensures that all defendants should be released on the notion of innocent until proven guilty. Corporate or commercial bonding, community participation, and bail bonds agencies guarantee that defendants don’t re-offend and improve the tracing and release of absconders. Defendants are mostly released on bonds and sureties paid by family members, who play a significant role in preventing the failure to comply with pre-court services.
Pre Court Motions
Depending on the charge’s severity, the manner of crime, and the prosecution's case, a pre-court motion seeks to change the course and result of the proceedings. Legal counsel employs pre-trial motions to set boundaries earlier on in the case. Some common proposals are
Motion to dismiss
At a pre-court hearing, the prosecution’s case may lack merit, or the plaintiff has no dispute. The court can dismiss such claims for lacking evidence or due to the jurisdictions and powers of the authorities involved. On the other hand, an out of court settlement before the trial initiates a motion to dismiss.
If during the initial appearance to pre-trial, the defendant takes a guilty plea, the court gives a summary judgment. In such circumstances, the defense has no way to dispute any facts in the case, and therefore, there is no reason for a trial. The court moves straight to judgment where a judge rules and sentences offender according to the law.
Motion to exclude witness testimony
Witness testimony can be eliminated due to its unreliability, the witness’s incompetency, or conflicting interests. Legal defense counsels typically work towards discrediting testimonies and witnesses to further weaken the prosecution’s evidence. How the authorities obtained a witness's statement may lead to its dismissal.
Motion to exclude physical evidence
Law enforcement agents may conduct an intricate investigation before arresting a defendant or apprehending a person for committing a crime. The amount of tangible proof and the procedures used to gather it can reflect on the admissibility of the said evidence during a pre-trial. A good example comes when it is proven that the evidence was obtained beyond specific search warrant scopes. The defense attorney can also call a motion for the dismissal of evidence obtained through illegal means or using equipment that the court cannot admit.
Motion to change venue
Some highly publicized trials have necessitated either the prosecution or the defense attorneys to call for venue changes. This helps to protect the integrity of the case, the official’s security and regains control of the proceedings. If a community’s jury pool is prejudice against the defendant or their actions, the trial is relocated to be conducted in a more neutral ground.
The release of evidence
There are many reasons why prosecution may hold some crucial evidence to the case only to spring it on the defense later on. This will jeopardize the defendant’s case and have unfair ramifications on the outcome of the trial. This motion ensures that there are no such hidden surprises and defense calls to seek orders for the release of evidence. With all the evidence on the table, both parties can argue their case appropriately.
Find a Virginia Criminal Attorney Near Me
If you fail to comply with pre-court services, the court revokes bond, and all participating authorities start an immediate search for your apprehension. Once you are re-arrested, the court sets hearing for bail violations, and the prosecutor calls for your detention; which the court consents to. The prosecutor seeks to keep you in custody and weaken your defense. Virginia Criminal Attorney can help you if you are in this situation. If you are in Fairfax or the Northern Virginia area, you can contact us at 703-718-5533 to consult you on how we can build a strong defense for you.