Federal Pretrial Detention in Miami and Fort Lauderdale

An arrestee may be held in Federal detention for up to three days. The bail Reform Act of 1984 establishes and governs Federal district criminal courts on pretrial release and conditions of bail. These rules apply nationwide and are rigorously and diligently defended by the local criminal defense bar in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

There is a presumption in Federal court in favor of pretrial release. The U.S. Federal prosecutor, representing the U.S. government, must meet a high burden of proof before requesting pretrial detention. The standard the Federal prosecutor must meet is by “clear and convincing evidence” that a detainee is:

  1. A risk of flight;
  2. A danger to the community; and
  3. A real threat of harm to witnesses.

By constitutional rulings and statute, reasonable conditions affording pretrial release are favored. That means the government must make a showing to an impartial magistrate and meet a burden of proof on those three criteria.

In Florida Federal court in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, due to a local Federal criminal case, anyone arrested on a drug charge is presumed to be a danger to the community. The Federal criminal system functions separate and apart from Florida criminal courts. Both the rules and the standards are different in Florida courts. Under Florida criminal law, there is no presumption that an arrest for a drug-related charge requires detention and no presumption an arrestee is a danger to the community.

The issue of Federal pretrial release is handled at the Initial Appearance Hearing held before a Federal magistrate. You have the right to be represented by counsel. At the initial appearance in Federal court the Federal criminal magistrate, both in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, must take testimony and hear evidence and make findings. A Federal Magistrate functions under the supervision of a Federal District Court judge. If you are unhappy with the ruling of the magistrate, your attorney can bring the matter before the Federal criminal judge assigned to your case.

It is common in Miami for arrestees to be released on a signature bond or corporate security bond. Both of these bonds do not require the posting of a cash deposit with the U.S. Marshals Service, unless the Federal magistrate insists. This differs from Florida state criminal courts, where it is common practice that conditions of pretrial release, which have a financial or monetary security, must be posted with a cash amount. There, you can either post the cash amount or hire a bondsman who must issue a “power number” to secure release.

Under all circumstances the U.S. Federal criminal magistrate must first attempt to find some conditions of release to satisfy the statutory standards listed above. Only after making a finding on the record, after taking testimony and reviewing evidence, can a Federal magistrate in Miami detain an arrestee and have them held in Federal custody.

It is useful to know some general information in this area. For example, a danger to the community or danger to another means the magistrate must make a finding that the individual has a propensity to engage in criminal conduct. Further, that the propensity is a reality during the pendency of the prosecution. The government has a higher burden of proof before it can request the Federal magistrate make findings that no reasonable conditions can satisfy those concerns. Also, for Federal pretrial detention hearings, the standard is proof by “clear and convincing evidence.” A good understanding of this is more than 50% likely. It’s also good to note that the Federal magistrate in Miami may consider conduct, which goes outside the scope of the arrested matter.