Release Hearing – Attorney Marc J. Victor – What Is A Release Hearing?
If you have a Release Hearing, what that means is, you’re in custody; it’s a criminal case, and you have been detained. The criminal case starts with a hearing called the initial appearance. That’s where the release conditions initially get set for the case. There is another video that covers, what an Initial Appearance is, so we will not go into that right now.
A Release Hearing is an opportunity to try and change the release conditions to get someone out of jail. Usually, this occurs when the bond is too high for someone on the outside to post so they can get that person out of custody. Your attorneys have an opportunity to try to get the terms changed.
But, if the circumstances of the case have changed; you’ll always get another opportunity to argue release conditions. Therefore, a release hearing is an opportunity for your lawyer to go in front of the judge and tell the judge the bond is too high. What’s the argument for that? In Arizona, there is a preference for an OR (own recognizance) release. This is a release with your promise to come back to court, and you don’t have to post a bond.
If you don’t get an OR release, then Arizona law says it should be, the least onerous conditions that would reasonably assure your appearance back in court. So, the argument to the judge would be, this bond that was set is not the least onerous condition that reasonably assures my client will return to court; we feel something lower is appropriate.
There are many options here such as; secured bonds which can be lowered; unsecured bonds, and third party release, which basically says someone on the outside (usually a parent or some other responsible person) can take charge and be responsible for notifying the court if the defendant has left the jurisdiction. In addition, there is also a release to pretrial services that is very common, especially in Maricopa County. Pretrial services are kind of like being on probation. You have someone you have to report to, and they keep an eye on you. There could also be drug testing and other things required by pretrial services.
The Release Hearing could be a very important hearing, and I like to refer to it as stage 1 of the criminal case. It’s about where you are going to be while the rest of the criminal case is going on; we already know you would prefer to be out of custody. Lot’s of times at our law firm, we like to file a written motion to modify release conditions. This motion lays out for the judge, exactly what the law is, and all of the reasons why the person who is in custody is either, not a flight risk and should have a lower bond or maybe no bond or, in addition to that, is not a danger to the community.
There are generally the two big points judges look at to determine release conditions. Is this person likely to return? Some of the things they look at to determine this are, do you have good ties to the community? Do you own a home here? Do you have family or other relatives and friends here? Are you involved in any Civic Organizations? Do you have a job here? To the extent you have these things, these are considered good ties to the community; so a judge may be convinced that you are not a flight risk.
Also, hiring a private attorney is something that I argue all of the time. Why would the person hire a private lawyer if they were planning to flee? The other big issue here is the danger to the community. Now, this is always an interesting one for me because you are presumed innocent. I sometimes raise this with the judge by asking, if my client is presumed innocent, why are we talking about him being a danger to the community? But, they still do consider this. So, the nature of the crime can be very important.
These are all factors good lawyers know about, that’s why we file written motions and put them in front of the judge. These can be very important hearings, and I think you should consider very carefully which lawyer you have representing you; and if and when that lawyer is going to file a motion to modify release conditions.