If the government wants the defendant detained, the prosecutor will move for detention at the initial appearance. Bail in federal court is controlled by the Bail Reform Act, 18 USC 3141 et seq.
There are some cases where the government gets an automatic three (court) days to prepare for a bail hearing. These are called “presumption” cases, for offenses such as drug dealing, child sex offenses including child porn, and bank robbery. See 18 USC
3142 (f)(1), (2). The government may also try to prove that the defendant is a flight risk, or a danger to the community – in those cases, the government also gets three days to prepare for the bail hearing. The defense can also ask for up to five days to prepare for the bail hearing.
Defendants seeking bail are then referred to Pretrial Services. Pretrial Services are neutral court employees, who interview the defendant and prepare a short life background and criminal history for the court. The public defender will accompany the defendant to the pretrial services interview.
Before the bail hearing, the public defender will work with the defendant to identify resources to post for bail. This can include cash, cars, motorhomes, and real property such as houses and real estate. Bail bondsmen are usually not involved in federal court.
If the defendant is released at the bail hearing, it is often with conditions. Typical conditions include reporting to Pretrial Services, drug testing, and a search and seizure condition.