Pretrial Services

​Vision Statement: Pretrial justice through fair and impartial treatment for all.

The Department of Pretrial Services oversees a statewide program based on the premise that defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty and are entitled to reasonable bail. This premise is supported by federal and state constitutions. Pretrial Services operates in all 120 Kentucky counties and provides services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Pretrial officers are mandated by Supreme Court rule to conduct an interview and assessment within 24​ hours of arrest on individuals arrested on bailable offenses. If a defendant does not qualify for administrative release, pretrial officers then present the findings to a judge, who makes the decision about pretrial release. 

The program has earned a national reputation for innovation in the field of pretrial release. In 1976, Kentucky became the second of four states to outlaw commercial bail bonding. Kentucky is also known for being among the first states to establish statewide evidence-based practices.

Services Offered

Administrative Release. The Supreme Court authorized the Administrative Release Program to allow eligible defendants to be released without being presented to a judge. The order gives pretrial officers the authority to release based on specific criteria without contacting a judge. The program is designed to expedite the pretrial release of low- to moderate-risk defendants charged with nonviolent, nonsexual misdemeanors.

MAPD Program. MAPD stands for Making a Positive Difference: A Roadmap to Recovery. This program allows pretrial officers to identify defendants who might have a substance use disorder and encourage them to have a clinical assessment. MAPD’s goal is to determine if treatment might be needed and help individuals begin a road to recovery that leads to restored families and communities. The defendant’s participation in the MAPD Program is voluntary and not required by the court.

Misdemeanor Diversion. This voluntary program allows certain defendants to be released under the supervision of Pretrial Services. While the criteria for being accepted into a diversion program can vary by jurisdiction, individuals with little or no criminal history who have been charged with a misdemeanor or criminal violation are generally eligible for the program. 

Defendants who enter into a diversion agreement with Pretrial Services may be required to pay restitution and/or perform community service instead of being prosecuted for their charge. Misdemeanor diversion is available only in some counties. To learn more about eligibility and which counties offer this program, call the Pretrial office in the county.

Monitored Conditional Release. Monitored conditional release reduces the unnecessary detention of pretrial defendants who can be released into the community with minimal risk.

Pretrial Services monitors the defendants who may be required to check in and others who may have additional conditions. MCR is available in all 120 counties. 

Deferred Prosecution. Deferred prosecution applies only to defendants charged with first or second offenses of possession of a controlled substance 1st degree, a class D felony. The commonwealth’s attorney and the court decide if a defendant will be accepted into the program. The commonwealth’s attorney then sets the terms and conditions of the supervision, which is administered by Pretrial Services. If the defendant successfully completes the program, the charges are dismissed and all records are sealed. This program is available statewide.

Text Notification. Pretrial Services will send text notifications to remind defendants on pretrial release to appear for their scheduled court dates. Defendants who do not have a cell phone will be reminded by email or a call to a landline.

Pretrial Interview Process & Release Alternatives

Finding yourself or a family member or friend in jail can be a stressful and confusing experience. The following explains what typically happens when someone is arrested in Kentucky. Please note that local procedures can vary and this is a general description of what to expect.

After being arrested, a police officer will transport the defendant (person arrested) to a nearby jail. The booking process includes taking the defendant’s photo and fingerprints and obtaining basic information, such as address and date of birth. Defendants are also searched for contraband and sometimes given a jail uniform to change into. Physical and mental health screenings are usually conducted. Most jails will allow the defendant to make a call to family or friends after they have been booked or received their release decision. 

The pretrial officer will contact the defendant by phone to see if they will consent to a brief pretrial interview. The pretrial interview is not mandatory, but the information may be helpful in getting the person released from jail. The information collected by the pretrial officer is confidential and will be used only for the court-related purposes allowed by statutes and criminal rules.

While the pretrial interview is voluntary, pretrial staff are required to conduct a criminal background check and a risk assessment to determine if the defendant is likely to appear in court and not get rearrested if released from jail while the case is pending.

Within 12 hours of the defendant’s incarceration, the pretrial officer will use the information collected to determine if the defendant is eligible to be released on his/her recognizance without contacting a judge (per Administrative Release Program). If the defendant is not eligible for immediate release on recognizance, the pretrial officer will present the information to a judge for a decision on pretrial release. Once the judge decides, the pretrial officer will notify the jail where the defendant is housed and the Office of Circuit Court Clerk in the county where the charge originated.

For information on a defendant’s bond or release status, call the jail where the defendant is being housed or the Pretrial office in the county where the defendant’s charges originated.

Release Options Available to Judges

Judges have a variety of nonfinancial and financial options when considering pretrial release.

Nonfinancial Options for Release

Release on Recognizance. Requires only the defendant’s signature and their promise to appear in court as scheduled and abide by any conditions that may be imposed by the court.

Unsecured Release. Requires only the defendant’s signature and their promise to appear in court as scheduled and abide by any conditions that may be imposed by the court. There is an uncollected money amount attached to this type of release and a defendant’s failure to appear in court or abide by the conditions could lead the court to forfeit the release and require the defendant to pay the full amount set as bail. 

Third-Party Surety Release. Requires a third party to sign with the defendant. The party signing will usually be required to own property, but a lien will not necessarily be placed upon the property. These types of bail releases are subject to approval on a local basis. If the defendant fails to appear in court as scheduled or abide by conditions that may be imposed by the court, the third-party surety may be subject to forfeiture, which would be the amount set as bail.

Financial Options for Release

Cash. Requires the defendant or someone acting on their behalf to post the full amount of cash bail plus filing fees. If the defendant fails to appear in court as scheduled or abide by conditions that may be imposed by the court, the court may require the bail to be forfeited. If there are no violations of the conditions, the full amount will be refunded to the person who posted bail when the case is disposed.

Property. Requires Kentucky property owners to have equity in their property equal to twice the amount of bail in order to qualify. A lien will be placed on the property to secure the bail. If the defendant fails to appear in court as scheduled or abide by conditions that may be imposed by the court, the court may require the value of the posted property to be forfeited. The lien on the property will be released when the case is disposed. There are also fees for processing this type of bond.

Partially Secured. Requires a percentage of the cash amount set as bail, which is usually 10% but the amount can vary. For example, if bail is set at 10% of $500, then $50 would be required to have the defendant released. There is also a 10% processing fee for this type of bail. When the case is disposed, the remaining 90% of the posted bail will be refunded. If the defendant fails to appear in court as scheduled or abide by conditions that may be imposed by the court, the court may require the full amount of the bail to be forfeited.

Pretrial Serivices Logo