What is pretrial services?
It is very important that you know the Pretrial Services Office is part of the Federal Court System and is independent of the U. S. Attorney’s Office. The first duty of the pretrial services officer is to investigate your background so the court will have the necessary information to assist in determining whether you should be free or be remanded to custody. Should you be freed on bond you will probably be assigned to supervision by a pretrial services officer until a sentence is given, until you report to prison or until you are found not guilty.
What will be expected of me?
The first time you meet with a pretrial services officer you will be asked to answer personal questions including, but not limited to, family life, finances, criminal record, employment and education. A form will be given to you entitled Notice To Defendant explaining your rights. Read that notice!
Will my activities be supervised?
Should the court allow you freedom on bond you may be assigned to the supervision of a pretrial services officer until sentenced or found not guilty. The terms of that supervision will be dictated by the court and the regulations of the Probation and Pretrial Services Office.
Can I still travel to my job?
The court may place conditions on your freedom depending upon the case. Normally your travel to work will not be restricted by the pretrial services officer. You will be encouraged and expected to maintain employment. Travel outside the Middle District of Louisiana, even for legitimate employment, requires notice to and approval of the supervising officer.
What information should I take to my first meeting with an officer?
All information concerning your family and residential life, finances, criminal record, employment, education, physical and/or mental health should be known and ready for the officer. If documentation is available to you it would be helpful to bring it with you. You are under no obligation to provide any information and do not have to answer any questions. However, as noted above, the court will be using this information as a part of its determination whether you are to be released or detained pending resolution of the charges. Obviously any information you do give should be truthful. False information is a separate crime and could be used to deny your release before trial or to increase your sentence if you are subsequently convicted of the original crime.
Will I be expected to sign any forms? Forms detailing your financial condition must be filled out and signed. Should you elect to answer questions and provide information to the pretrial services officer you will be asked to sign an acknowledgment of understanding of your rights on a form titled Notice To Defendant. We also ask defendants to sign a release of information to verify any information you provide from areas such as employment, education, medical and/or psychological and psychiatric records.
What information can I get from the pretrial services officer? It is important to your success that you build a bond of trust with the officer. He/she is neutral insofar as your guilt or innocence is concerned, but very interested in your well-being and the welfare of your family throughout the court process. The officer is not able to predict any outcome in the criminal case nor change the requirements of the court. You certainly will be advised of community services that may be available to you and your family.