Federal Courts Law Review

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FEDERAL COURTS LAW REVIEW -- 1999 Fed. Cts. L. Rev. 2

Pretrial Detention Based Solely on Community Danger: A Practical Dilemma

By Krista Ward(1) and Todd R. Wright


[a.1] The Bail Reform Act of 1984 permits a federal judge to detain a criminal defendant pending trial if the defendant is a danger to the community or a flight risk. Incongruously, the Act does not explicitly permit a federal judge to hold a detention hearing based solely on the government's allegation that the defendant is a danger to the community. Absent express, statutory authority, federal judges have split on the issue of whether an allegation of danger to the community is itself sufficient to justify a detention hearing. This article addresses the issue by examining the history of federal bail law; the legislative history of the Bail Reform Act; case law and practice.

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