Judicial District of Fairfield at Bridgeport


     Criminal; Unlawful Detention; Whether Trial Court’s Failure to Make Probable Cause Determination Within Forty-Eight Hours of Warrantless Arrest Mandates Defendant’s Release from Custody Without Bond.  The defendant was arrested without a warrant by Bridgeport police and charged with attempt to commit murder, threatening and weapons charges.  The charges arose out of allegations that the defendant fired a pistol from his automobile at someone and then exited the car and threatened others with a golf club.  More than forty-eight hours after the arrest, the trial court found  at the arraignment that there was probable cause to believe that the defendant had committed the charged crimes and set his bond at $200,000.  The defendant objected to the imposition of the bond and moved to be released from custody.  He claimed that, because the probable cause determination was not made within forty-eight hours of his warrantless arrest, Practice Book § 37-12 (a) mandated his release from custody without bond.  Section 37-12 (a) provides that the judicial authority shall make a probable cause determination within forty-eight hours following a warrantless arrest, and that, “[i]f no such probable cause is found,” the defendant shall be released from custody.  That section was adopted in response to United States Supreme Court decisions holding that the fourth amendment requires a prompt judicial determination of probable cause as a prerequisite to an extended pretrial detention following a warrantless arrest.  The trial court denied the defendant’s motion that he be released without bond, concluding that § 37-12 (a) does not provide a remedy for a violation of the “forty-eight hour rule” and that the remedy of release is only mandated when probable cause is not found.  The court added that interpreting § 37-12 (a) as mandating the release of possibly dangerous defendants whenever the forty-eight hour rule is violated would constitute a windfall for those defendants and an unjustified penalty on the state.  The defendant petitioned the Appellate Court to review the order denying his motion to be released from custody without bond.  The Appellate Court denied him relief, noting that the defendant was brought to court within forty-eight hours of his arrest for the specific purpose of having a probable cause determination and that a finding of probable cause was made one hour and forty-five minutes after the lapse of the forty-eight hour time period following his arrest.  In this General Statutes § 52-265a public interest appeal, the Supreme Court will determine whether the defendant was entitled to be released without bond because the probable cause determination was not made within forty-eight hours of his arrest.  If it is determined that the defendant was entitled to be released, the court will decide what non-financial conditions of release, if any, may be imposed by the trial court.