Pretrial Compliance Software: Understanding The Pretrial Process

Pretrial compliance software, Pretrial Process

Pretrial Compliance Software: Understanding The Pretrial Process


Pretrial compliance software plays a significant role in the pretrial process, although its integration and usage may vary across jurisdictions. Many individuals who go through the pretrial process are often unaware of how pretrial compliance software influences the decisions made by judges or magistrates regarding their pretrial liberty, supervision, or incarceration. This article aims to better understand the pretrial process and the use of pretrial compliance software, focusing on its role in the decision-making process.

Understanding the Pretrial Process

The pretrial process can be complex and involve various stages and decision-makers. By understanding the pretrial process, individuals can gain insights into how pretrial compliance software is used at different points. The following is a breakdown of the steps involved in the pretrial process:

Step 1: Choose an Offense

Users start by selecting the offense they have been arrested for. The pretrial compliance software offers a range of offenses, from minor violations like disorderly conduct to more serious crimes like murder or sexual assault.

Step 2: Issuance of Complaint-Summons or Complaint-Warrant

Based on the offense chosen, the pretrial compliance software determines whether the police issue a complaint summons or a complaint warrant upon arrest. A complaint summons requires individuals to appear in court, while a complaint warrant leads to immediate custody and transfer to the county jail.

Step 3: Release or Detention

Depending on the complaint type issued, users are released immediately or are taken into custody and transferred to the county jail.

Step 4: Pretrial Services Runs the Pretrial Compliance Software

If released, pretrial services run the pretrial compliance software and make initial release or detention recommendations based on the pretrial compliance score.

Step 5: Factors Influencing the Pretrial Compliance Score

The pretrial compliance software takes into account various factors that can influence the pretrial compliance score. These factors may include age at the time of arrest, current charges, pending charges, prior convictions, prior instances of failure to appear (FTA) pretrial, and prior sentences to incarceration.

Step 6: Calculation of Raw Scores

Users input their relevant information for each factor, and the pretrial compliance software calculates the raw scores for failure to appear, new criminal activity, and new violent criminal activity.

Step 7: Conversion of Raw Scores

The raw scores are converted into a converted failure to appear (FTA) score, a converted new criminal activity (NCA) score, and determine whether a new violent criminal activity (NVCA) flag is present.

Step 8: Charge Decision

Based on the scores and flags, the pretrial compliance software determines whether the police issue a complaint-warrant or a complaint-summons.

Step 9: Pretrial Recommendation

Pretrial services combine the charge and scores to give a pretrial recommendation, which may involve different levels of supervision, such as phone calls, face-to-face meetings, or electronic monitoring.

Step 10: Review by Prosecutor and Defense

The prosecutor and defense review the pretrial compliance software results and the case.

Step 11: Initial Hearing before a Judge

Within 48 hours, the defendant appears before a judge for the initial hearing.

Step 12: Arguments for or Against Pretrial Compliance Software Results

The prosecutor and defense may present arguments to the judge about the accuracy of the pretrial compliance software results and how they represent the defendant’s risk level.

Step 13: Judge’s Decision

The judge decides whether to release or detain the defendant pretrial and determines the conditions and supervision of release.

Step 14: Justification for Detention or Electronic Monitoring

If detention or electronic monitoring is recommended, the prosecution or judge must provide full justification for their decision. In most cases, New Jersey operates under the presumption of release.

Step 15: Post-Release Requirements

If released, defendants must meet the pretrial supervision requirements and appear for all court hearings to avoid being sent back to jail before trial.

By going through each step of the pretrial process using the pretrial compliance software simulator, individuals can better understand how the software is utilized and the factors that contribute to the recommendations made by the software.

The Role of Pretrial Compliance Software

Pretrial compliance software, such as the simulator based on the Public Safety Assessment (PSA) integrated into New Jersey’s criminal legal pretrial proceedings, provides valuable insights into decision-making. The software allows users to walk through each aspect of the pretrial process, make choices that generate a pretrial compliance score and pretrial outcome, and observe how different factors and charges can influence the software’s recommendation.

It is crucial to recognize that while pretrial compliance software plays a significant role in the pretrial process, it is not the sole determinant of the outcome. The pretrial compliance score generated by the software serves as a starting point for pretrial services, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges to evaluate the defendant’s risk level. However, it is essential to consider other personal circumstances and relevant information that may not be accounted for in the software.

In New Jersey, the pretrial compliance scores generated by the software are applied to a decision-making framework that guides judges and magistrates in determining appropriate levels of release, supervision, or incarceration. Other jurisdictions may use decision frameworks and release matrices instead, which provide recommendations for supervision levels without detention. However, judges and magistrates may deviate from these recommendations and still choose to detain defendants or impose monetary bail.


Pretrial compliance software is a valuable tool in the pretrial process, providing insights into the decision-making process and the factors considered when determining the defendant’s risk level. By using a pretrial compliance software simulator, individuals can better understand how the software is integrated into the pretrial process and observe how different factors and charges can influence the recommendations made by the software.

It is important to recognize that pretrial compliance software is not infallible and should be considered alongside other factors and personal circumstances. By understanding the complexities of pretrial compliance software and the pretrial process, communities can engage in decarceration organizing and campaigns to address any biases inherent in these tools.