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.
The Pretrial Services Program serves the criminal justice system and community and assists in preserving community 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 Program’s Intake component gathers and provides information about all arrestees charged with criminal offenses and through way of written report aids the Court in making informed decisions concerning pretrial release.
The Program’s Supervision component increases court appearances rates and proactively monitors court ordered conditions of pretrial release and refers clients to specialized service providers thus impacting victim and community safety.
Pretrial Services examines arrested individuals for suitability for Drug Court, DUI Court and Mental Health Court and facilitates Veterans services at the time of intake.
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.
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, indigence 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.
Pretrial Services works in conjunction with the Judges and other court personnel to save tax payer dollars and eliminate unnecessary case continuances and bench warrants. The Program also collaborates to assess the un-sentenced inmates to determine eligibility for release, bond reduction or early case resolution.
The Pretrial Services Intake Unit operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The Intake Unit compiles information about arrested persons into a comprehensive report for the judge at First Appearances. The information gathered aids the judge in bond decisions and includes: demographics, community ties and extensive criminal background checks.
The team also reviews initial eligibility for specialty courts (Health Care, Drug and DUI Courts) and provides referrals for qualifying defendants. Additionally, the Intake Unit interviews victims of violent crimes and verifies information provided by defendants to ensure the Court has a wide range of information for decisions on bond.
The Intake Unit facilitates early case processing, as well, by assisting defendants with the application process to determine indigent status.
A Jail Population Monitor identifies defendants eligible for early case resolution. Disposing of cases early-on saves taxpayer money and creates jail bed space for high risk offenders. This is one of the specialty units in Pretrial Services dedicated to saving taxpayers money while preserving public safety. Since January 2013, this specialty unit has saved taxpayers over $1,355,000.
The Supervision Unit is responsible for proactively monitoring and enforcing court orders for defendants who are released to Supervised Pretrial Release (SPR), while remaining an impartial party. To increase the chances of successful compliance with conditions of release, the team assists clients with securing employment and, for early intervention, refers them to community service providers for: mental health and substance abuse treatment, veterans services, legal aid, medical assistance, housing, food and other services. They track clients’ criminal court dates, ensuring that clients are aware of all of their hearings and increasing court appearance rates. In the event that a client fails to appear for a scheduled court hearing, the team assists clients with the process of returning to court.
The team communicates with victims of their clients, notifying them of conditions and providing information for victim services. Pretrial Services maintains relationships with the judiciary, criminal justice support community, law enforcement, and social service providers. Proactive case management helps preserve victim and community safety while striving to better the lives of clients and reduce recidivism.
The JAC is located inside the county jail and the Intake team members are certified to process all juvenile arrests that occur within Sarasota County. The team prescreens arrested youth for jail medical and mental health clearance. They interview each juvenile to gather information and assess their individual needs to provide referrals to local service providers for them and their families.
While the youth are in JAC care, the team provides constant observation. They complete mental health, substance abuse and suicide risk screenings. Then, they evaluate the youth’s present charges and prior criminal history to determine placement: secure detention, home detention, or straight release. The Intake team is responsible for making recommendations to the State Attorney about the youth and notifying the gang task force when juvenile gang involvement is identified.
The team also contacts victims of domestic violence to inquire as to whether or not it is safe to release the youth back into the home environment. Additionally, for youth safety, they research the backgrounds of parties who take custody of the youth when they are released.