Pretrial Release

Orange County Pretrial Release Services assists the courts by  providing information to judicial officials that enable them to make  informed decisions about pretrial release conditions. The pretrial  release decision should balance the legal and constitutional rights of  the accused awaiting trial with the need for community safety and the  assurance that an individual will appear in court. Pretrial Release  Services performs the following evidence-based practices and key  functions:

  • The Case Manager meets individually with each newly detained  individual in the Orange County Detention Center prior to the First  Appearance.
  • The Case Manager compiles and verifies information on each detained  individual for judicial officials to use when determining pretrial  release conditions. Starting in late 2017 after a 90-day pilot, Pretrial Release Services has begun utilizing an evidence-based risk assessment  tool: The Virginia Pretrial Risk Assessment Instrument – Revised  (VPRAI-R). Each individual is assessed for the VPRAI-R risk factors and  given a risk assessment score and level. The Case Manager will provide a recommendation to the Court about whether pretrial release supervision  is appropriate and if so, what level of supervision is indicated by the  matrix that factors risk level and charge type.
  • The Case Manager supervises and monitors compliance with all  conditions for individuals receiving Pretrial Release from custody while awaiting trial. Four levels of supervision (Monitoring, Levels I, II  and III) are available to the Court, and court reminders and graduated  amounts of contact with the Case Manager are required for each level.
  • The Case Manager maintains data on all individuals under Pretrial Release supervision.

After assessing the Risk Factors, the Pretrial Case Manager gathers  and verifies information about the person’s community ties, employment,  education, medical, mental health and substance use disorder treatment  needs. The Court may utilize this information to make a more informed  decision about release conditions, but this information is also used to  assist the Case Manager in supervision of the individual or to share  with the Criminal Case Assessment Specialist (LCSW) if the individual  remains in custody. Referrals to residential treatment and outpatient  providers can also be made by the Case Manager or LCSW.

While maintaining the integrity of the judicial process, Pretrial  Release Services seeks to minimize unnecessary detention by supervising  individuals who are likely to appear for future court dates and do not  pose a risk to the community as they await trial. This practice results  in reduced rates of incarceration, less disparities based on an  individual’s race or financial resources and reduced costs for the  County. Most significantly, individuals who remain in the community  pretrial are able to maintain employment, remain with family, access  treatment, maintain stable housing, aid in their own defense, assert  their innocence, and mitigate the severity of any active prison term  that may be imposed at sentencing.

First Appearance Hearings

First Appearance hearings in Orange County are held for all  individuals charged and detained on misdemeanor or felony offenses. The  hearings occur Monday through Friday at 2 p.m. at the Orange County  Courthouse in Hillsborough. The District Attorney’s Office and Public  Defender’s Office are both represented at these hearings.

Strike Orders

The Pretrial Release Case Manager assists the  Clerk of Superior Court in weekly hearings with individuals seeking  Strike Orders for failures to appear in court. These hearings are  held every Thursday at 9 a.m. in Hillsborough. Individuals seeking a  Strike Order must report to the Office of the Clerk of Court between  8:30 and 9 a.m. on Thursday. At these hearings, the Clerk and the Case Manager perform the following tasks:

  • Review driving histories and criminal histories to inform individuals about unpaid fines and future court dates.
  • Review the case and failure to appear history as well as any documented excuse for missing court.
  • Reschedule new court dates for criminal and traffic cases, where appropriate.
  • Work with counsel and the DA’s Office to seek resolution of the matter, where appropriate.
  • Where detention is being considered, the Case Manager will complete a Pretrial Release intake and offer the Court a recommendation for  supervision.

In an effort to increase courtroom efficiency and to better serve the citizens of Orange County, the Clerk of Superior Court and Pretrial  Release Services administer this weekly strike order docket. Each week,  individuals who failed to attend a previous court date, can have these  cases re-calendared to a future date if there is not a history of  failing to appear or if there is a verified excuse for missing court. The state-wide review of traffic citations and infractions allows  individuals to become informed of unpaid fees/fines and decreases the  likelihood of having their driving privileges suspended. Finally,  reviewing state-wide criminal backgrounds allows Pretrial Release  Services to alert individuals of approaching court dates, which  increases likelihood of court appearances. Rescheduling these cases  helps individuals avoid arrest or detention and can assist individuals  in retaining or restoring their driving privileges.

Custody Review

The Pretrial Release Case Manager, in addition to the Criminal Case Assessment Specialist and CJRD Director,  continuously monitor the daily Jail List to determine if any individuals remain in custody on low cash bonds for non-violent offenses. CJRD  staff regularly consults with Detention Center administrators and court  stakeholders about these individuals to determine if pretrial release  conditions can be re-considered.