Statutory Standard for Pretrial Release at Virginia Bond Hearings
Virginia Code section 19.2-120 provides that, before conducting a hearing on bail, release, or detention, the judicial officer must, to the extent feasible, obtain the person’s criminal history, as defined in section 19.2-119. A person held in custody pending trial or hearing for an offense or for civil or criminal contempt must be admitted to bail by a judicial officer unless there is probable cause to believe that: (i) he or she will not appear for trial or hearing or at such other time or place as may be directed; or (ii) his or her liberty would constitute an unreasonable danger to himself or herself or the public.
The judicial officer must presume, subject to rebuttal, that there are no conditions that can reasonably assure the appearance of the accused for trial and the safety of the public if the accused is charged with any of the following offenses:
- An act of violence as defined in Virginia Code section 19.2-297.1;
- An offense for which the maximum sentence is life imprisonment or death;
- A specified drug offense involving a Schedule I or II controlled substance, if (i) the maximum term of imprisonment is 10 years or more and the accused was previously convicted of a like offense, or (ii) the accused was previously convicted as a “drug kingpin”;
- Violations of certain statutes relating to firearms and providing mandatory minimum sentences;
- Any felony, if the accused has been convicted of two or more offenses described in subdivision 1 or 2, whether under the laws of the Commonwealth or substantially similar laws of the United States;
- Any felony committed while the person is on release pending trial for a prior felony under federal or state law or on release pending imposition or execution of sentence or appeal of sentence or conviction;
- A sexual assault offense listed in Virginia Code section 18.2-67.5:2(B), if the accused has previously been convicted of one of those offenses and the judicial officer finds probable cause to believe that the accused committed the currently charged offense;
- Gang-related or terrorist acts; or
- Certain driving while intoxicated offenses if the accused has been convicted of similar offenses three times in the past five years.
The court must consider the following factors in determining, for the purpose of rebuttal of the presumption against bail, whether there are conditions of release that will reasonably assure the appearance of the accused and the safety of the public:
- The nature and circumstances of the offense charged;
- The history and characteristics of the accused, including character, physical and mental condition, family ties, employment, financial resources, length of residence in the community, community ties, past conduct, history relating to drug or alcohol abuse, criminal history, gang membership, and record concerning appearance at court proceedings; and
- The nature and seriousness of the danger to any person or the community that wouldbe posed by the person’s release.
The court may consider other factors it deems appropriate.
This statute contains two basic concepts. First, the court is required to set terms and conditions for pretrial release in all cases in accordance with the standards discussed in paragraph 4.203 of this chapter. Second, what amounts to “preventive detention” is authorized in certain classes of cases or under certain conditions.
The criminal defense lawyers at Livesay & Myers, P.C. represent clients in Fairfax, Alexandria, Arlington, Manassas, Woodbridge, Stafford, Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg, Virginia at bond hearings. If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime and seek bail or pretrial release, contact us to schedule your free consultation with a Virginia criminal defense attorney today.