In many cases, a person charged with a crime in West Virginia is released after an initial arrest and ordered to show up at a trial in the case at a later date. In felony cases, these people are usually required to put up a significant amount of cash as a bond to ensure that they come back for the legal proceedings. If the person appears at trial, he or she gets the money back. If the person can’t afford the bail money, he or she can pay a bail bondsman to put it up for them.
In some cases, however, a court will determine that the defendant should be held behind bars until the trial. As a recent case out of a federal court in West Virginia shows, this decision largely depends on the individual circumstances of the case and whether or not a judge thinks the defendant is likely to skip town. It also depends on the danger that the defendant may pose to others in the local area.
Mr. Lezine was charged with bank fraud and trafficking in counterfeit devices, a pair of federal crimes. Prosecutors asked a magistrate judge to hold him in federal prison until the case was resolved, arguing that he had a long and troubling criminal history and was likely to flee if released. The magistrate agreed.
As the judge explained, federal courts look at four general factors in determining whether a criminal defendant should be detained prior to trial: 1) the nature and circumstances of the alleged offense; 2) the weight of evidence against the defendant; 3) the defendant’s criminal history; and 4) the danger the person would pose to the local community if released. In this case, the magistrate found that Lezine had no ties to West Virginia, no residence in the state, and no history of employment in the state. The judge also noted that Lezine would be likely to head back to Arkansas, where he was still on probation at the time.
“Defendant has a lengthy and varied criminal history,” the judge further observed, “indicating that he is not a good risk for release on conditions.” Finally, the judge added that the nature of the offenses with which Lezine had been charged was “serious.” As a result, the magistrate concluded that Lezine posed a substantial flight risk and ordered that he be held in a prison in West Virginia pending the trial.
As this case shows, there is a variety of issues and factors that go into determining whether a criminal defendant should be held or go free in advance of trial. If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, contact the West Virginia criminal defense lawyers at the Wolfe Law Firm. Located in Elkins, we have been serving clients throughout the state with skill and experience for more than 25 years. Call us at 1-877-637-5756 or contact us online for a free consultation.
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