Maine attorney for workers' compensation, criminal defense, civil litigation, and small business matters.

Maine criminal law blog

A humble collection of pieces about issues in Maine criminal law and procedure by Maine attorney Zachary J. Smith.

Revocation of bail

In a post about a month ago I reviewed the procedural issue of motions, e.g., motions to suppress evidence or compel production of evidence. There’s another kind of procedural motion that is fairly common and important: the motion to revoke bail. I was reminded of this issue last week when Paul Manafort was sent to jail by a federal judge for bail violations.

Manafort was fortunate enough to be able to post pre-conviction bail and pay for electronic monitoring so that he could stay at home while awaiting resolution of his case. Many of my clients are unable to post enough bail to get released, and some are held without the possibility of bail. Now Manafort is in a federal detention facility in Virginia because he made the poor decision to tamper with potential witnesses in a case against him. He purportedly tried to get certain witnesses to testify in ways that didn’t necessarily align with the facts.

The lessons here: don’t violate bail and don’t tamper with witnesses. (Also, listen to your lawyers, because I’m sure they would’ve advised him against this course of action.) In Maine, people charged with violation of bail are routinely held without bail until the resolution of their cases — that’s what revocation means. Even someone as wealthy and well-connected as Manafort is not above the law (unless Pres. Trump pardons him, which is a different subject).

I’ve represented some defendants at their initial appearances for witness-tampering charges, which are felony-level crimes in Maine, and they usually think they can outwit law enforcement by, say, speaking in code over the phone or addressing letters from jail to the witness’s child. They’re not as clever as they think they are, and it’s not worth the risk of further incarceration. Furthermore, violation of bail is a crime unto itself (“violating conditions of release” or “VCR”), and so a defendant can be stuck in jail without bail for the initial case while facing a separate case for VCR and witness tampering. Don’t do it, kids.


Zachary Smith