In the U.S an arrest is made every 3 seconds. Millions of people are detained, awaiting trial for months at a time without being proven guilty.
Although it can be argued that there is an importance of pretrial detention, it is often excessive and it puts detainees and family members in legal purgatory.
This practice puts a strain on the overcrowded prisons and punishes those who may be innocent.
The process of awaiting trial can be deeply unfair in the United States. Learn what to expect and what you’re legally owed for your best shot at justice.
What to Expect When You’re Awaiting Trial
After an arrest, the will typically suspect will be allowed to pay bail to wait for the trial outside of custody. Bail bonds differ in price depending on the severity of the crime and it’s usually 15% of the person’s overall bail price.
If the individual isn’t remanded in custody for the reasons below, they can be in remand on bail meaning they can leave the court and not be in custody as long as they attend all court dates.
They can also be given a set of conditions alongside bail called a conditional bail where if any of the conditions are violated, they can be brought into custody. The bail would be forfeited and the suspect will be charged with failure to appear to court.
Reasons Why a Person Can Be Held in Custody Until Trial
A suspect can be held in custody to await trial for these different reasons:
- They’ve had similar offenses in the past
- It is believed that the individual can continue to commit offenses while they await trial
- There is a reason to believe that they might try to influence witnesses
- They could fail to turn up at the trial
Detainees on remand have also usually pleaded not guilty.
What Are Your Rights as a Pretrial Detainee?
The rights for pretrial detainees are mostly the same as those who are convicted prisoners but differ slightly from people who have actually been convicted of a crime.
Because detainees haven’t been convicted for a crime yet, they cannot be punished at all until proven guilty. The conditions for pretrial detainees are reviewed under the Due Process Clause.
Under the Sixth Amendment in the constitution, individuals are guaranteed the right to a speedy trial, though “speedy” isn’t defined consistently throughout all states.
Strip searches for pretrial detainees held for misdemeanors and minor offenses are unconstitutional in most cases unless the officer has a valid suspicion that the individual has a weapon or contraband.
Pretrial detainees are also protected by the fourth amendment which enforces their right to privacy and protects them from searches in their cells that aren’t for actual security reasons. The jail cannot search a pretrial detainee’s cell for evidence to use against them in the trial.
Now You Know What to Expect While Awaiting Trial
Awaiting trial can be a scary and confusing process. Being a pretrial detainee can expose you to violence from guards and prisoners as well as aggressive interrogators.
The best way through this would be to know your rights and to pay a bail bond if given the opportunity.
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