Revocation Of Bail


A court has the inherent power to revoke a defendant’s bail in order to protect its processes and the community.  While bail is granted in the ordinary course of events, an accused by his or her actions can forfeit his or her right to bail and a court is under a duty to protect its processes and to protect prospective witnesses.[i]  The inherent power to revoke a defendant’s bail may extend to custody in advance of trial when the court’s own processes are jeopardized by threats against a government witness. The inherent power should be exercised, however, only in an extreme or unusual case. Courts have the inherent power to confine the defendant in order to protect future witnesses at the pre-trial stage as well as during trial. [ii]

The breach of condition of release is a sufficient reason to revoke the release.  To revoke bail upon violation of reasonable condition of release, it is not necessary that the court be granted authority by a specific statute.  The reason is that a court having criminal jurisdiction has the power to enforce its orders as to bail just as it has control over other orders.[iii]  Vermont Law provides that bail may be revoked entirely if the court finds that the accused has (1) intimidated or harassed a victim or potential witness; (2) repeatedly violated conditions of release; (3) violated conditions of release which constitute a threat to the integrity of the judicial system; (4) failed to appear at a time and place ordered by a judicial officer; or (5) in violation of a condition of release, been charged with a felony against a person for which, after hearing, probable cause is found.[iv]

Pursuant to 18 USCS § 3142, a person who has been released under the applicable federal bail provision and who has violated a condition of his release is subject to a revocation of release and an order of detention.   18 USCS § 3148 provides that  once a person who has been released on an appearance bond is arrested by his or her surety, delivered to a United States marshal, and brought before a judicial officer, the judicial officer must determine whether to revoke the release of the person.   The judicial officer must revoke the release order if he/she finds that there is probable cause to believe that the person has committed a federal, state, or local crime while on release, or clear and convincing evidence that the person has violated any other condition of release or finds that there is no condition or combination of conditions of release that will assure that the person will not flee or pose a danger to the safety of any other person or the community, or the person is unlikely to abide by any condition or combination of conditions of release.

[i] Ex parte Frost, 848 So. 2d 1021 (Ala. Crim. App. 2002)

[ii] United States v. Graewe, 689 F.2d 54 (6th Cir. Ohio 1982)

[iii] Mello v. Superior Court, 117 R.I. 578 (R.I. 1977)

[iv] State v. Plant, 165 Vt. 617 (Vt. 1996)