One of the first things that will happen when you have been charged with a crime is that the judge will set conditions of release. These conditions are requirements that the judge will set for you to stay in the community. In other words, you must abide by these conditions or you will be taken into custody until your case has been concluded.
The conditions of release are usually set at the bail hearing. However, they will be set even in those cases where no bail is set. In other words, even if you are released on your own recognizance, the conditions of release will be set. Moreover, even with relatively minor charges, violations of the conditions of release are taken very seriously.
The conditions themselves will vary depending upon the nature and seriousness of the charges. They will often vary and increase in severity with repeat offenses.
There are a Number of Standard Conditions Issued in Almost Every Criminal Case
There are some fairly standard conditions that are set in almost every criminal case. These include:
- No illegal drugs or alcohol,
- No violations of the law,
- No contact with the victim,
- No weapons,
- Stay in contact with your attorney,
- Don’t miss court dates.
There may also be restrictions on travel, prohibitions on returning to the scene of the incident, court ordered counseling, random drug and alcohol testing, regular reporting to probation, court ordered drug and alcohol abuse assessments and counseling and so on.
In some cases, a defendant may be ordered into pretrial services. This is tantamount to very serious probation. In short, pretrial services can require weekly or even daily meetings with a probation officer. In all cases of conditions of release, you can be on a pretty short leash. In pretrial services, you are pretty much under constant supervision.
Some Conditions May be Negotiable Depending on the Nature of the Criminal Charges
Depending on the nature and seriousness of the charges, your attorney may be able to avoid some restrictions. For instance, travel restrictions are often waived for work and family travel. There are cases where firearm restrictions will be waived for employment and sometimes even for hunting. The leniency of the judge will depend on the charges. For instance, the firearm restrictions are not likely to be waived when the charges include any kind of allegations of violence—including domestic violence.
Again, the thing to mostly keep in mind is that your release from jail is conditioned on abiding by these conditions. If you do violate, you may be jailed while your case is pending. Because criminal cases can take quite some time to conclude, this could result in very significant jail time even if you are ultimately acquitted of the charges.
Inadvertent Violations are Still Violations So Understand Your Conditions of Release
It is very important that you understand the conditions of release. If you are unsure, err on the side of caution and talk with your attorney if you are at all confused. The judge will not care much that you didn’t understand the conditions. Your understanding is presumed and the burden is on you to understand the conditions.
Finally, keep in mind that judges are individuals and they react differently. There are some judges that will not tolerate even a single technical violation. A judge’s tolerance may depend on the kind of day the judge is having. It is best to assume that you will have a very strict judge having a very bad day. To assume otherwise may result in very unpleasant outcome to your hearing on violations of your conditions of release.