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  • Writer's pictureDavid A. Cmelik Law PLC

Criminal lawyer explains jail release conditions

Courts in Iowa have wide latitude to impose pretrial release conditions in the event that the court releases the defendant on his or her own recognizance or imposes a bond that the Defendant can post.

The restrictions in the list at Iowa Code § 811.2, including travel restrictions, appear to be disjunctive—options in a menu available to the judge. For example, the court can impose travel restrictions, a ten percent option to the clerk, a surety bond, and “[i]mpose any other condition deemed reasonably necessary to assure appearance.” The most common restrictions include “no contact” with any alleged victims of personal crimes, travel restrictions, and substance abuse evaluations. If a defendant seeks to leave the State of Iowa, for example, he or she should be extremely cautious—making sure to check both with a bondsman, if applicable, and defense counsel. Even if there is no explicitly stated travel restriction in the release order, a bondsman or prosecutor may seek to revoke bond and recommit to bail if they believe that the defendant is a flight risk—requiring the defendant to expend precious resources just to keep out of jail.

Defendants should also heed warnings to give alleged victims wide berth during pretrial release. Just because the chief complaining witness and alleged victim—also the protected party in a pretrial “no contact” order—shops at the same grocery store as the defendant will be difficult to explain to both law enforcement and the judge. Advice: Avoid them and shop somewhere else.

In addition to possible contempt charges—treated as separate crimes punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine distinct from the underlying offense without a jury—pretrial release status will almost certainly be in jeopardy if there is an accusation of a violation of a pretrial “no contact” order. Of course, defendants may bristle at the thought of being denied the freedom to shop at all their usual haunts—but those places may also be frequented by someone who either (1) wants to have the defendant arrested and re-jailed; (2) is genuinely afraid and will assume accidential contact is intentional. Either way, he or she will call the police upon sighting the defendant.

The simple answer in that situation is to avoid any place the protected party might frequent like the plague. Substance abuse evaluations are the next most common pretrial release requirement. In Linn County, Iowa, for example, a defendant typically has 30 days from the date of the release order to schedule and obtain a substance abuse evaluation. Defendants should immediately schedule this evaluation and notify defense counsel when that requirement is met.

A blog is not legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading a blog or by sending unsolicited information to a lawyer over the Internet.


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