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Pretrial is the time period after an individual has been arrested but before they have been convicted of a crime. During this time period, a pretrial services officer will gather information about the defendant through interviews and record checks. The pretrial services officer reports the information to the judge, so the judge can decide whether the defendant can be released on pretrial supervision or should be detained.

At a detention hearing, the judge will decide whether or not to grant pretrial release. If the defendant is granted pretrial release, the pretrial services officer will supervise the defendant to ensure they are not a danger to another person or the community, the conditions of their release are met, and they attend all required court hearings.

Pretrial supervision ends if the defendant is found not guilty at trial or the charges are dropped against him or her. If the defendant is found guilty or pleads guilty, the pretrial services officer will typically continue supervising the defendant until their sentence begins. Pretrial supervision usually lasts a few months, during which time a probation officer may start the defendant's presentence investigation.

The Pretrial Services Report:

The pretrial services report includes personal history data that pertains to the defendant's potential pretrial release performance, and it usually includes a recommendation for release or detention. A recommendation for release must consider the least restrictive conditions necessary to reasonably assure the defendant's appearance and the community's safety.

In addition to the release conditions found in 18 U.S.C. Section 3142 (1) (B) (i)-(xiv), the court could release a defendant on other conditions or alternatives to detention such as:

  • Pretrial services supervision - for example, may include defendant reporting, community contacts, urinalysis
  • Substance abuse treatment (in/out patient)
  • Electronic monitoring surveillance
  • Halfway house
  • Curfew monitored by pretrial services
  • Third party custody