Pretrial is a time period after an individual (defendant) has been arrested, but before he/she has been convicted of a crime. During this time, a probation officer gathers information about the defendant through interviews with the defendant, family/friends, other courts, law enforcement, and through records inquiries. The probation officer compiles this information into a report that is made available to the judge, prosecutor (Assistant U.S. Attorney), and defense attorney. At the defendant's hearing, the judge will decide whether to grant the defendant's pretrial release or order the defendant remain in custody. The judge utilizes the report to assist him/her in making this decision. The court's primary considerations are whether the defendant is a risk of nonappearance for future court proceedings or if the defendant presents a danger to the community.
If ordered released by the court, the defendant will commence with Pretrial Services supervision. The court will typically issue an Appearance Bond that may have some combination of conditions or restrictions the defendant is required to abide by. The officer will supervise the defendant based on this Appearance Bond to ensure the conditions of release are enforced and that the defendant appears at any subsequent court hearings. Conditions of release can include, but are not limited to, drug testing (urinalysis testing), reporting to the assigned officer, location monitoring (ankle bracelet), have no contact with witnesses or co-defendants, or any other conditions deemed appropriate.
If the defendant is found guilty of the charges or enters into a guilty plea, the officer will typically continue supervising the defendant. During this time, another probation officer may become involved with the defendant to begin the presentence investigation process. Pretrial supervision typically will continue until the defendant is sentenced by the court and, if imposed, until a term of imprisonment commences.