Pretrial services officers are responsible for many investigative and procedural duties related to supervision of a criminal defendant awaiting a trial. The pretrial services officer’s job is to determine whether the defendant poses a threat to himself or others while awaiting trial and if they are likely to appear for their appointed court date. In order to determine this, the pretrial services officer may interview the defendant, consult with police and court officials, and question family or friends of the defendant. Pretrial services officer jobs may also involve investigating the defendant’s ties to the community, criminal record, their financial disposition, and relationships with others outside the jurisdiction to help decide if they are a flight risk.
In many cases, a defendant may be medically debilitated by mental health issues or chemical dependency. The court may impose certain directions that the defendant seek treatment for these factors so that they can stand trial. It is often the responsibility of the pretrial services officer to facilitate treatment options and supervise remedies.
Pretrial Services Officer Job Description
Pretrial services officer jobs involve fulfilling the following responsibilities:
- Investigate defendants for their propensity for violence and likelihood of attending trial
- Determine the mental health of defendants
- Make recommendations to court officials about granting bail
- Ensure that defendants receive proper medical attention
- Monitor the activities of defendants
How to Become a Pretrial Services Officer
Most jurisdictions including the federal judiciary require that pretrial services officers possess at least a bachelor’s degree and many possess a master’s degree. The most common degree fields are
- Human relations
- Criminal justice
- Public administration
Many of the pretrial officers come from professional backgrounds in social work, probation systems, or law enforcement. For strongly motivated college students, there are also paid internship opportunities available in some jurisdictions.
Applications can usually be found at the website of the court system candidates wish to serve. Some jurisdictions may have specific requirements including an age requirement; the federal courts require new pretrial services officers to be younger than 37 years of age. Along with the application, a detailed resume and college transcripts should be submitted.
Most employers will ask candidates to undergo a medical evaluation which assesses their ability to receive training in personal defense. This requires that candidates be free from any debilitating conditions and that they have the capacity for moderate to arduous exercise. A drug screening, background investigation and psychological evaluation will also be conducted.
If hired, pretrial services officers should expect to enroll in a training program that is usually residential in nature and may last several weeks. These programs usually include courses in
- Pretrial law
- Pretrial services agencies
- Pretrial processes
- Community and pro bono services
- Personal protection
- Firearms training
Pretrial Services Officer Salary
One of the largest employers of pretrial services officers is the federal court system. They offer a pretrial services officer salary that range from $26,390 to $61,049. The federal pay system for these jobs is dependent upon a 35 level system with five steps at each level. These salaries may be adjusted for cost of living, hazard pay, and overtime.