You’ve probably heard the phrase “Pre-trial services” and wondered just exactly what it means related to criminal cases in Dallas County, TX. At Southern Bail Bonds Dallas, we’re often asked about this and how it can affect individuals going through the criminal justice system in Dallas. Hopefully this page will provide some insight to what’s offered through the Pretrial Services office and whether or not it may be of benefit to you or someone you know.
What Exactly Is Pretrial Services in Dallas County?
Pretrial services is comprised of different services within the County that are specifically designed to provide supervision to defendants who have been released on either a PR bond or sometimes on a Surety (Bail) bond to make sure they appear in court as required and comply with the conditions of their bond. Another of their goals is to increase public safety by providing monitoring for defendants who have been ordered by the courts to participate in the County’s pretrial services.
What Does Dallas County Pretrial Services Offer?
Currently, Dallas County offers 4 different programs through Pretrial Services. They include:
This program provides defendants who meet certain criteria that have been arrested on Class A, Class B Misdemeanors and certain Felonies with an alternative to remaining in jail while awaiting a disposition of their case. Pretrial Release can provide low cost or no cost (Personal Recognizance) bonds to defendants. Low cost bonds can be as low as $20 or 3% of the bond amount. For example: if a defendant is granted a bond in the amount of $5000 and they are also granted a low cost Pretrial Release bond, they could pay as little as $150 to secure their release. Or, in certain circumstances, they could receive a Personal Recognizance bond at no cost. Pretrial Services does not determine innocence or guilt; dispositions of any cases are something that will be worked out through the courts.
Defendants will be required to participate in an interview and a thorough background investigation. These are requirements for consideration, so not participating would most likely result in being disqualified from receiving these services. The interview and background check is designed to gather information about the defendant such as their past criminal record, family and community ties, their character and their reliability. If a defendant is released through Pretrial Release, they will need to report regularly to a Pretrial Officer (PO) who will monitor their compliance to whatever conditions were set for their release. The PO will also provide supervision for their case and work with the defendant to ensure they are not only aware, but actually make their required court appearances.
Alcohol Monitoring Unit (AMU)
The Alcohol Monitoring Unit employees technicians who supervise defendants released on bond with statutory or court ordered requirements to have and use an alcohol monitoring device as a condition of their release.
A DWI charge in Dallas County almost always spins up the AMU. A judge or magistrate will order almost all DWI defendants to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle or any vehicle the defendant has access to on a regular basis. The defendant will also be ordered to report back to Pretrial Services with proof the device has been installed within a designated timeframe.
Ignition interlock devices are breath alcohol analyzers that are installed in motor vehicle ignition systems. Before a DWI defendant can start their motor vehicle engine, they are required to provide a breath sample into the analyzer by blowing into the device. The device measures the alcohol concentration of the driver. No, the driver can not have someone else blow into the device to start the engine then switch places…(we’ve been asked this question before!). If the driver’s alcohol concentration exceeds the startup set point on the interlock device, the motor vehicle won’t start.
If a defendant has been released from detention with orders for an ignition interlock device installation, they will be required to report to the Pretrial Services Office on the specific day and time previously assigned, with proof of the installation. The defendant may also be required to pay the $10 monthly monitoring fee. The device must be properly installed with proof of installation by the specified deadline (within 30 days from the date of release from custody). Failure to comply with the court’s order could result in the defendant’s bond being forfeited and can subject the defendant to rearrest. Just a note: Judges DO NOT like having their orders ignored for any reason, especially when in comes to certain charges – DWI being just one of those charges. If a defendant fails to comply and is rearrested, the defendant needs to be prepared for the possibility of getting a “No Bond” decision from the judge or magistrate. This means they will not get a second chance at being released before their court date or trial!
Defendants will be required to report each month to the Alcohol Monitoring Technician with verification of calibration, and pay the $10 monthly monitoring fee. Be aware that the court can order a more frequent reporting schedule if they feel it is needed for whatever reason.
Electronic Leg Monitoring (ELM)
We’ve all seen them, either in person on in the movies – those chunky monitors on people’s ankles that scream “I WAS IN JAIL!!” Dallas County’s Electronic Leg Monitoring Program provides an option for Defendants to be released from jail and placed under house arrest. If the defendant is employed or attending school a judge may allow the defendant to go to their job of school while wearing the ELM.
Dallas County’s Electronic Leg Monitoring (ELM) program is designed to provide very intensive supervision to high risk bond cases. Four types of supervision are offered through this program include the following:
GPS with work and/or school release
Full house arrest with GPS
RF with work and/or school release
Full house arrest with RF
This program can either be offender or County funded.
Alternative Sentencing Program (ASP)
The Alternative Sentencing Program offers alternatives for defendants who have been sentenced to County jail. A judge can now sentence a qualifying defendant to ASP/ELM which is an offender funded program instead of a costly jail sentence. The supervision of this program is intensive and uses RF or GPS monitoring equipment.
The Pretrial Services Office is located in the Frank Crowley Courts Building, 133 N. Riverfront Blvd., Dallas, TX 75207. You can enter the building from the main steps on Riverfront or you can enter through the door at the back of the Frank Crowley building from the sidewalk that goes between Frank Crowley and the jail. The office is on the 2nd floor in Room A9. Alcohol Monitoring Supervision hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. APPOINTMENTS BY CALLS. You may call the office at (214) 875-2289.
As always, Southern Bail Bonds Dallas is here to assist you or your loved on in posting bail bonds in the event a PR bond is not granted by the courts. Our friendly, professional agents will process your bond quickly. We provide bail bonds over the phone so you don’t ever have to leave your home! Call us today at either one of our conveniently located offices for fast service. We’re ready to help!