In almost every single DUI case that we defend, we have to file a motion to modify pretrial release conditions. It’s probably one of the most common motions that comes up in criminal cases. Some examples include situations where a client was arrested on a charge of DUI, and even if it is a first Florida DUI arrest, the Judge can still make them wear a scram device. This device measures the person’s alcohol level at all times. This is basically an anklet that it attached to the client’s leg and registers any consumption of alcohol. If it registers any alcohol, it will alert the system, and a possible violation of bond conditions may be coming down. In this situation of course, it is dangerous for the DUI client to risk a violation of their bond, and unfortunately scram devices are imperfect, and frequently alert by mistake. We have had clients that have been in this serious situation, by using perfume or perhaps aftershave. Scram device is almost always ordered, when it is a second or a third DUI.
A motion to modify pretrial release conditions in any criminal case, including a DUI case, asks the Court to remove the scram device or another condition, such as a restriction on travel, or a no contact order. The motion can also address the Pre-Trial Services program, which is very common in Duval County for first time offenders. If the person is placed on the Pre-Trial Services Program, it is usually coupled with a Release of his/her Own Recognizance (ROR). At the jail the DUI arrestee will undergo a risk assessment, where the officer will look at the person’s criminal history, the type of charge, marital status, job, do they have a cell phone, time at current residence, history of drug or alcohol abuse, previous FTAs, and other factors. If the person is placed in the Duval County Pre-Trial Release Program, they will then have to call once a week to figure out if they need to report. This program is great as it allows people to avoid posting a bond, however for DUI defendants this is not usually the best choice. Remember if you are charged with a DUI, you will not be able to drive until you get a hardship license, so getting to the Pre-Trial Services Program can be a challenge. Our DUI Attorneys always try and avoid this condition of bond to make sure the client is not set up for failure. Sometimes it is best to have a low bail set and post a bond, than to be on the program.
If the scram device is ordered in a DUI case, our office will file the motion to remove it for various reasons, such as where it interferes with the client’s job, or if the client has been wearing a scram device for several months and has had no violations. In those cases, we may have a good reason to convince the judge that the client is not at risk for using alcohol.
In criminal cases pretrial motions also come up, if a client perhaps needs to travel, or if the client is going on vacation. Sometimes, bond restrictions include a restriction on the client’s ability to leave the county, most of us travel for work so it may put a serious strain on the client. We don’t have to file a motion to modify pretrial release conditions to allow client to go outside the county in most cases.
A similar motion is frequently filed having to do with lowering the defendant’s bond. For example at first appearance, when a client is not represented a judge may set the bail at $50,000. That means the family has to post a $5,000 bond through the bail bondsman in order to get the person out. They will never see that money again. Many times the family does not have it or would rather spend it on hiring but attorney. We file a motion to reduce the bond, and to show the Judge that the client is not a flight risk, or in situations where a battery or any violent offenses are involved, a client is not a threat to the victim. The judge may then choose to lower the bond but impose alternative conditions, such as GPS monitoring or house arrest.
In battery cases, a no contact order is almost always in effect, unless the victim actually shows up to first appearance. This order is usually coupled with the defendant’s inability to go home. A motion to modify pretrial release conditions would address this situation as well.