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Most criminal defendants are released, with or without bail, while their case is pending.

If they commit a new crime or violate a condition of their release before the initial case is resolved, prosecutors can ask the court to detain the defendant in jail while the original case is still pending.

This is referred to as “bail revocation“, and the phrase is used whether or not an actual cash bail was set at the defendant’s arraignment.

The detention period cannot exceed 90 days. According to the applicable statutory law:

a person so held shall not be detained for a period exceeding ninety days.

M.G.L. c. 276, Section 58B

Today, the Supreme Judicial Court held that this 90-day period can begin at the moment the defendant is arrested on the new offense. The opinion, in part, reads as follows:

This case requires us to determine whether the presumptive time limit on pretrial detention outlined in § 58B is calculated from when an individual is first detained or from when an order of detention formally issues. We conclude that the presumptive time limit must be calculated from the date a person is detained regardless of when a formal order of detention issues.

Velazquez v. Commonwealth, (SJC 13345)