Philadelphia, PA criminal defense attorney Brian Fishman explains detainer hearings and probation violations and how he helps clients lift them.
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So when somebody is arrested in Pennsylvania and they are on probation or parole they’re back judged meaning the judge that has them on probation or parole will generally lodge a detainer or a warrant that regardless of what the bail amount is set in the new case the detainer will serve to hold them in custody until the outcome of the open case. So you could be arrested for a new offense and the bail could be ROR meaning you don’t have to pay any bail to get released but you’re still sitting in jail on the detainer. So I oftentimes have loved ones who contact me and want to have a detainer lifted. And it’s extremely important that I find out number one, what are the allegations of the new case? How serious is that case? Is that a case that perhaps the person is just looking at probation ultimately because if they are, I can make a pretty strong argument to the judge if he’s ultimately looking at probation on the open case why are we holding this man or woman in jail?
The other thing that’s important to do is to communicate with the probation officer to find out the person’s compliance while on probation. Were they testing negative for drugs? Were they gainfully employed? Were they taking care of their loved one, their children? Were they paying their fines and costs? Were they going to drug treatment or anger management? And if a probation officer is willing to come in and say, “Judge, I asked that the detainer remain in place,” which is what they almost always do, “but I will say that this person has been perfectly compliant with supervision and they have done everything I’ve asked them to do. They’re respectful to me. They report on time. They’ve completed all of their programs.”
And I’m actually thinking of a probation officer who very recently said all these things, that goes a long way and a judge will say, “I’m going to give this person the benefit of the doubt and I’m going to let this person fight the case in the street and I’ll lift the detainer.” Now that doesn’t mean that you still can’t come back in front of that same judge if you’re convicted and have to face a violation of probation. But the number one thing when people get arrested what do they want to do? They want to get out and be with their family and their loved ones. So being able to strongly advocate to have the detainer lifted can make a world of difference in a person’s life.