Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pretrial Release of Felony Defendants in State Courts

Thomas H. Cohen, Ph.D. and Brian A. Reaves, Ph.D. - Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice

Between 1990 and 2004, 62 percent of felony defendants in State courts in the 75 largest counties were released prior to the disposition of their case. Beginning in 1998, financial pretrial releases, requiring the posting of bail, were more prevalent than non-financial releases. Surety bond surpassed release on recognizance in 1998 as the most common type of pretrial release. Two-thirds of defendants had financial conditions required for release in 2004 compared to half in 1990.

Compared to release on recognizance, defendants on financial release were more likely to make all scheduled court appearances. Defendants released on an unsecured bond or as part of an emergency release were most likely to have a bench warrant issued because they failed to appear for court. Defendants arested for violent offenses or who had a criminal record were most likely to have a high bail amount or be denied bail.

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