Texas Federal Detention Hearings
Under the Bail Reform Act (18 U.S.C. §§ 3141–3150), the Federal Government can move to detain a defendant if the defendant is a danger to the community or a flight risk.
At the Initial Appearance, the Government will typically announce whether they seek to detain the defendant without bond. The Federal Government routinely moves to detain defendants on significant drug cases involving alleged violence and sex-related cases. The Government also routinely asks for detention when the defendant is not a United States Citizen.
If the Government requests detention, the Magistrate will typically reset the case for several days to hold the Detention Hearing.
At the Detention Hearing, the Government has the burden of proof. However, Magistrates often tilt in favor of detention when the Government asks for it. At the Detention Hearing, the Government typically calls one agent to summarize the evidence against the defendant. The agent oftentimes testifies as to what other agents have told him. At a Detention Hearing, I cross-examine the agent to demonstrate weaknesses in the Government’s case. I also cross-examine the agent to demonstrate that my client is neither a danger to the community nor a flight risk.
At a Detention Hearing, I also put on evidence in favor of my client. I can call witnesses to demonstrate that my client is neither a danger to the community nor a flight risk. Typically, I call family members, employers, and close friends. At a Detention Hearing, I sometimes proceed by way of the proffer. Rather than calling the witness to the stand, I proffer (state on the record) what the witness would testify to if I called them to the witness stand. Sometimes I will use proffers because I do not want to subject my witnesses to cross-examination by the Government.
After the Detention Hearing, the Magistrate makes their ruling. They either deny the Government’s motion and release the defendant on conditions of bond or grant the Government’s motion and order that the defendant is detained and held in custody while the case is pending.
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