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United States v. Castellanos-Almendares

United States District Court, S.D. Florida

August 20, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
v.
WILMER HOLIDEY CASTELLANOS-ALMENDARES, Defendant.

          Smith Judge

          PRETRIAL DETENTION ORDER

          WILLIAM MATTHEWMAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         The Court, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3142, commonly known as the Bail Reform Act of 1984, hereby ORDERS the Defendant, WILMER HOLIDEY CASTELLANOS-ALMENDARES, detained pursuant to the provisions of Sections (b), (e) and (f).

         I. Preliminary Issue: Can This Court Consider Defendant's Alleged Dangerousness?

         The preliminary issue here is whether, under the facts of this case, the Court can legally consider Defendant's alleged dangerousness when deciding the Government's motion for pretrial detention. Or, to put it another way, is the Court constrained from considering a defendant's alleged dangerousness when the Government has a statutory basis to move for a detention hearing under the serious risk of flight prong of 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(2)(A), but does not have a statutory basis to move for a detention hearing on dangerousness grounds under 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(1)(A)-(E) or § 3142(f)(2)(B)?

         The Government moved for pretrial detention of Defendant on the basis that he presents a substantial or serious risk of flight or nonappearance and a danger to the community. However, this case does not fit under any sections of the Bail Reform Act which permit the Government to move for pretrial detention in the first instance on dangerousness grounds. See 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(1)(A)-(E) and (f)(2)(B). Instead, the facts of this case only allow the Government to move for a pretrial detention hearing under the serious risk of flight prong per § 3142(f)(2)(A).

         Defense counsel argued at the detention hearing that, under the federal pretrial detention statute, the Government cannot move in this case for detention on the basis that Defendant is a danger to the community. Further, according to defense counsel, the Court cannot consider Defendant's alleged dangerousness in determining whether Defendant should be detained or released in this case. Defense counsel pointed out that illegal reentry is not a delineated crime in 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(1)(A)-(E). Defense counsel also asserted that there is no evidence under (f)(2)(B) that there is a "serious risk that such person will obstruct justice, or threaten, injure, or intimate, or attempt to threaten, injure, or intimidate, a prospective witness or juror." 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(2)(B). Therefore, according to Defendant, the Government cannot move for pretrial detention under dangerousness grounds of the Bail Reform Act, and, further, this Court cannot consider Defendant's alleged dangerousness in determining whether Defendant should be detained or released.

         Defense counsel did concede that the Government was entitled to a detention hearing under 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(2)(A), which provides for a hearing if there is "a serious risk that such person will flee." 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(2)(A). However, defense counsel maintained that, since the Government could not move for a detention hearing on the basis that Defendant is a danger to the community or any person, the Government could not seek detention on the danger prong; rather, in defense counsel's view, the Government could solely argue that Defendant should be detained as a serious risk of flight or nonappearance, and the Court could not consider Defendant's alleged danger to any person or the community in its detention analysis and decision.

         In response, the Government maintained that 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f) establishes when the Court should hold a detention hearing, while 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g) contains the factors to be considered by the Court in determining whether to detain the defendant. According to the Government, the triggering mechanism for holding a hearing in this case is serious risk of flight under 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(2)(A), but, once there is a basis to hold a detention hearing, the Court is required to consider if any conditions of release would ensure the safety of the community and the appearance of Defendant pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g).

         II. Court's Analysis

         The Court agrees with the Government's reading of the federal pretrial detention statute. Conversely, the Court disagrees with Defendant's argument that the Court cannot consider Defendant's alleged danger to any person or the community in its decision to release or detain Defendant. This law is clear that section 3142(f) lays out when the "judicial officer shall hold a hearing to determine whether any condition or combination of conditions set forth in subsection (c) of this section will reasonably assure the appearance of such person as required and the safety of any person and the community." 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f). Under section (f)(2)(A), the court shall hold a detention hearing "upon motion of the attorney for the Government or upon the judicial officer's own motion in a case that involves a serious risk that such person will flee." 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(2)(A). Therefore, in the case at hand, the Court was required to hold a detention hearing on the Government's motion that Defendant is a serious risk of flight or nonappearance.

         Next, Section 3142(g) specifically states that the "judicial officer shall, in determining whether there are conditions of release that will reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required and the safety of any person and the community" consider certain factors which are then listed in § 3142(g)(1)-(4). 18 U.S.C. §3142(g) (emphasis added). The fourth factor that the court is to consider is "the nature and seriousness of the danger to any person or the community that would be posed by the person's release." 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g)(4). Thus, the plain meaning of the statute is that, once a court has a basis to hold a detention hearing, that court is required to consider whether there are any conditions of release that will reasonably assure the safety of any person and the community, and the court is also required to consider the nature and seriousness of the danger to any person or the community that would be posed by the person's release. This interpretation makes perfect sense and, further, is required by the plain language of the Bail Reform Act.

         This interpretation of the statute is also supported by a case from the Southern District of Florida, United States v. Holmes, 438 F.Supp.2d 1340 (S.D. Fla. 2005). The court in Holmes found that

dangerousness as a grounds for detention is not excluded in cases involving detention hearings brought under (f)(2). This conclusion is based on a plain reading of the statute's unambiguous language and structure, the Act's legislative history, and the Johnson[1] and Singleton[2] courts' analyses. This Court is convinced that Congress intended that ...

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