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Pretrial Release of Federal Felony Defendants

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 1994
This report examines the likelihood of pretrial release of Federal felony defendants given specific offenses, criminal history, and past observance of pretrial release conditions.

The findings are based on the pretrial segment of the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) Federal Justice Statistics Program for 1990. The analysis revealed that 44,113 defendants facing Federal felony charges were scheduled to be interviewed by Federal pretrial services agencies during 1990. United States district courts released 62 percent of these defendants before case disposition. Among those not released, more than three-fourths were held without bail, while the remainder had bail set but did not post the amount required. The percentage released varied from 22 percent for robbery defendants to 98 percent for defendants whose most serious arrest charge was embezzlement or a regulatory offense. Defendants whose most serious charge at arrest was robbery or racketeering were most likely to be held without bail, followed by those charged with murder, tax offenses, or drug trafficking. Defendants who had some kind of active criminal justice status at the time of arrest were less likely to be placed on pretrial release than defendants who did not have any. Defendants with a poor court appearance history or a lengthy conviction history were also less likely than others to be released. Tables

Date Published: February 1, 1994