Pretrial Release and Bonds in a DUI Arrest
In most states, a person who is arrested must put up a certain amount of money to be released while their case is pending. This is typically referred to as either bond or bail. However, DC does not have a bond or bail requirement for people to be released while their case is pending.
Instead, DC has a system of pretrial release where, for the most part, people who were arrested for misdemeanor cases are automatically released. They go directly from a police station with a citation to appear for an initial court day at a later point. This is called citation and release and is undertaken in DC DUI cases.
Citation and Release
When a person is arrested for a DUI, the DC police officers generally takes them to a police station to have them booked and processed. They are released from the police station two to three hours later with a citation to appear for their arraignment date about three weeks later. A person in this situation does not need to pay bond or bail to be released, their own personal promise to appear for the next court date is enough.
With that said, under certain circumstances, a citation and release does not happen. For example, when a person is arrested for a DUI and has another criminal case pending in DC or another jurisdiction, they will be held by the police until they can appear before a judge at the next available court date. This is usually the following day.
At their next available court date, a judge will determine if there is any reason to deny releasing the person while their case is pending. Those reasons might include a history of not appearing for court dates, or a specific belief that the defendant is a danger to the community in a way that could not be remedied by other conditions of release.
Posting Bond in DC
At no point is a person in Washington, DC ever required to put up a bond or a bail in exchange for being released while their criminal case is pending. That means DC does not have a monetary bond or monetary bail that serves as a requirement for a person to be released pretrial.
The only time a person may have to put up money in exchange for being released from jail is when a judge imposes a monetary bond because a person previously did not appear for a required court date. For example, if a person signed a promise to appear for a court date and did not appear, the judge issues a warrant for that person’s arrest. This is called a bench warrant; the judge could also issue a monetary bond of $100, for example.
When a person is arrested on the bench warrant because they did not appear for their court date, the person must pay $100 in cash to be released so they can appear for their next court date.
Aside from the issue of a bond being imposed as a result of bench warrants, there is no monetary bond in Washington, DC as a requirement for pretrial release.
Violating Conditions of Release
When a person is released on their own personal promise to appear for the next court date, a judge may impose conditions with which a person must comply in exchange for being allowed to remain on the streets while their case is pending.
For example, these conditions may include a requirement for the person to drug test weekly or undergo alcohol testing or treatment. There also may be a condition to stay away from, and have no contact with, the accuser.
If a person does not comply with the conditions of their release, a judge could revoke the person’s release and hold them in jail or impose some other, more strict conditions while a person’s case is pending.
As an example, a judge could order that person to wear an ankle bracelet so the authorities can monitor their movements while their case is pending. A judge may also order that a person is held in a halfway house if they committed serious violations of their pretrial release.
The most serious thing a judge could do when a person violates a condition of their release is to completely revoke their release and hold them in jail while their case is pending.
If a person is released from jail and has future court dates, the person is released with their notice to appear at their next court date. That notice says that, even though they are being released from jail, they could face consequences for not appearing at their next court date, which could potentially send the person back to the jail if they do not appear in court.
When a person is released from jail after completing their jail sentence, they receive information about following up with their probation officer or parole officer. That may include information on the remaining conditions of their probation or parole, where to report for supervision, and any fines they must pay after being released from jail.
How an Attorney Will Help
It is extremely important for a person to hire an attorney immediately after being arrested. A lawyer who is experienced specifically with DUI cases in Washington, DC, can advise someone as to exactly what their next step should be.
A lawyer is intimately familiar with DUI procedures and the steps a person should take prior to their first court date. That may include recommendations to enroll in alcohol treatment or education classes, obtaining copies of certified driving records, or going to the DMV to schedule administrative hearings to challenge any consequences to a person’s driving ability that might have resulted from their DUI case.
Only DUI lawyers familiar with DC procedures are in a position to advise a person charged with a DUI as to their next steps and what they should do early in the case to be in the most favorable position moving forward.