Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pre-Trial Probation

I am preparing for a trial right now, thus I have to keep this one short.

I have written that few people make bail in Chicago. The bonds are just too high in my opinion. But for some that do, they can be assigned to pre-trial services.

What is or are pre-trial services? It's ran by the adult probation department. In effect it's like being on probation and in some cases intense probation. How? One on pre-trial services has to pay a monthly fee and check in monthly with an assigned officer. Some can also be ordered to take random drug tests. Curfews can also be set by a judge.

I have a client charged with his first felony. He's 17. His mother managed to scrape together bond money. He was assigned to pre-trial services. He cannot leave his house except to go to work or school. A probation officer told me this morning he's essentially on house arrest but not wearing the stylish ankle bracelet.

Not everyone that makes bond is assigned to pre-trial services. I have had clients on bond that had been to prison multiple times and simply had to show up to court and not get arrested again. That is typically the two big conditions of bail.

It seems like the young ones get hit with this arrangement (I can't think of a better word). I have had two prior clients (one 17, one 18) that were on curfew from 7:00 pm to 7:00 am. One of them had an extensive juvenile background and was already on probation. I never dreamed one could be locked down all day.

House arrest can be ordered as a condition of bail in lieu of having to pay cash. Very few are given house arrest, however. I don't understand having to pay cash and then still essentially being on house arrest. My client will have to ask for permission to leave his house to meet with me, his attorney.

Keep in mind, all of these pre-trial conditions are exactly that, pre-trial. In other words, they are still presumed innocent, have rights, and all that stuff we learned but doesn't seem to mean much in the real world. 

This all doesn't pass the sniff test. Not to me anyway. I don't like pre-conviction punishment any more than pre-conviction incarceration.



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