Pre-Trial Release and Bond in DC DUI Cases

In most states, when a person is arrested they will need to put up a certain amount of money, usually referred to as bail, in order to be released while their case is pending. The District of Columbia, on the other hand, does not have a pre-trial release system that is conditional on the payment of bail.

Even so, DC has a system where people arrested for misdemeanor charges are released directly from a police station after they have been booked. Instead of paying bail, the individual will often be issued a citation to appear at an initial court date at a later point, which is referred to as a citation and release.

In DC DUI cases specifically, people who are arrested typically are released a few hours later after they have been booked and processed.

Process of a DUI Arrest

When a person is arrested for a DUI, police officers usually take that person to a police station so they can be booked and processed. This means that they have their fingerprints taken and have their booking photograph taken.

They are then released from the police station two to three hours later and given a citation to appear for their arraignment date about three weeks later.

A person in this situation will not need to pay bail to be released on their own personal promise to appear for their next court date.

When May a Person Not Be Released?

A situation in which a person may not be released on citation after their arrest is when they have another criminal case pending, either in DC or another jurisdiction. Instead of releasing the person with a citation to appear for their arraignment date, that person could be held by the police until they appear before a judge at the next available court date, which is usually the following day.

At that court hearing, a judge would determine if there are any reasons to deny the person’s release while their case is pending. Those reasons could include a history of not showing up for court dates, or a specific belief that because of a person’s criminal history, that person may be a danger to the community in a way that could not be remedied by some other condition of release.

How Bond is Determined

Washington, DC, has no requirement for the payment of monetary bond in exchange for pre-trial release. 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 signs a promise to appear for a court date but fails to do so, the judge would issue a bench warrant for the person’s arrest and set a bond amount.

When a person is arrested on the bench warrant because they did not appear for their court date, the person would have to pay that monetary bond in cash to be released.  The bond would then be returned to them at the conclusion of the case.

How Can Bond Be Posted in DC?

When a judge imposes a cash bond, that bond can be paid in full at the Superior Court’s criminal finance office, which is on the 4th floor of the DC Superior Courthouse.

Pre-Trial Conditions

When a person is released on their own personal promise to appear for their next court date, a judge could impose conditions that the person must comply with in exchange for being allowed to remain out of custody while their case is pending. These conditions could include a requirement that the defendant submit to weekly drug tests, or undergo alcohol testing or treatment. There could also be conditions to stay away from an accuser, or to not drive after consuming any alcohol.

If a person does not comply with the conditions of their release, a judge could impose stricter conditions of release, or even revoke their pre-trial release entirely.

Examples of more intensive conditions of release include:

  • More frequent in-person check-ins with the DC Pretrial Services Agency
  • “Sanctions-based” drug treatment
  • GPS monitoring via an ankle bracelet
  • And placement into a halfway house

If a person’s pre-trial release violations are serious or frequent enough, the judge could determine that no conditions of release could adequately safeguard the community and revoke the person’s release entirely.

Pre-Trial Documents

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 them back to jail if they do not comply.

Post Trial Documents

When a person is released from jail after completing a jail sentence, they receive information about following up with a probation or parole officer. That can include information on the remaining conditions of their probation or parole, where to report for supervision, and any fines they would still need to pay after being released.