Rule 3.131(a) of the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure states that
"…every person charged with a crime or violation of municipal or county ordinance shall be entitled to pretrial release on reasonable conditions."
The Pretrial Services Program serves the criminal justice system and community and assists in preserving public safety. The program provides the Court with information that facilitates sound judicial decisions, enforces court orders and provides supervision and treatment options to defendants.
The purpose of the Pretrial Services Intake component is to collect and verify personal information regarding employment, educational history, length of time in the community, and criminal background information for the Judiciary which aids in making informed decisions concerning pretrial release.
The purpose of the Pretrial Services Supervision component is to increase court appearance rates, proactively monitor court ordered conditions of release, and refer clients to specialized service providers thus positively impacting victim and community safety.
Pretrial Services strives to provide the highest levels of ethical and professional conduct, and is dedicated to serving the Court while remaining neutral, objective and respectful in providing any services and supervision of conditions ordered by the Judiciary. We conduct ourselves as individuals of good character while working together as a professional team committed to justice within the community while honoring the constitutional presumption of innocence.
Pretrial Services Intake Unit
The Pretrial Services Intake Unit is housed at the Sarasota County Jail and operates on a 24/7, 365 days per year basis. The staff gathers and provides information about all arrestees charged with criminal offenses. Pretrial Officers interview defendants and obtain background information concerning the defendant's family, residence, employment, health, prior and pending criminal cases, probation status, etc. Through the means of a written report, accurate and unbiased information is provided to the Court in order to assist in the decision making process regarding the custody or release of persons accused of a crime. If, during the intake process, it is determined that the defendant qualifies for a specialty court such as Drug Court, DUI Court or Mental Health Court, that information is relayed to the presiding judge.
Pretrial Services Supervision Unit
The Pretrial Services Program provides judges with a release option, other than a monetary bond or "ROR" (release on own recognizance). Pretrial Services’ staff monitors defendants who are ordered to "Supervised Release". Defendants must report regularly to the Pretrial staff until their case is disposed, and may be required to comply with special court-ordered conditions such as random urinalysis, drug and alcohol evaluations, AA/NA meetings, curfews, etc. The Program maintains several specialized caseloads to address the needs of defendants who may require more intensive supervision or who have special needs. Individuals who have been charged with domestic related offenses are assigned a Case Officer who meets with them individually, develops an individual case plan and provides referrals to relevant community resources. The Officer also contacts victims to advise them if a “no contact” order is in place, provide information on victim advocacy agencies and make other referrals as needed. If a defendant is placed on Supervised Release with a special condition of electronic monitoring the Case Officer works in cooperation with an electronic monitoring company that provides and monitors the equipment to ensure compliance with the orders of the court. Electronic monitoring holds defendants accountable, assures a maximum level of community protection and saves taxpayers from the high cost of incarceration. In addition, all fees associated with monitoring are paid by the defendant. If an individual placed on Supervised Release has indicated mental health diagnoses, behaviors or treatment, the Case Officer provides individualized attention, referrals to appropriate community resources and monitors the defendant’s compliance with Court ordered treatment.
Supervised Pretrial Release reviews all Judges Reports of defendants, not released from First Appearances to see if they qualify for a Specialty Court. The Courts’ team members are contacted in order to assess eligibility and to follow up as they deem necessary.
ROR NOTIFICATION SERVICES
Supervised Pretrial Release assists in increasing court appearance rates by attempting telephone contact with criminal defendants who were released on their own recognizance, prior to their court date, to remind them of the date, time and location of their hearing.
CITIZENS RIGHT TO KNOW
FL Statute 907.043 requires defendant information be available to the public
In accordance with the FL Statute, Pretrial Services collects, tracks and forwards required information to the Clerk’s office and ensures accurate data is available for citizens’ review. The information consists of defendant names, case numbers, arrest charges, indigency status, and the specific outcomes of pretrial supervision. In the event that the outcome was unsuccessful, the reason for noncompliance is recorded coupled with a recommendation for revocation. Other requirements include the number of statewide convictions and court appearances; and if the defendant failed to appear, the failure date, and if a bench warrant was issued.