Posted on Mar 21, 2016

The New York Times has reported that on March 18, 2016, a New Hampshire judge revoked the bond of 20-year-old Owen Labrie, who was free on bond pending his appeal of convictions related to his alleged participation in a seamy sexual ritual at his elite boarding school. The case received widespread media attention due to the exclusive reputation of the Concord, NH boarding school, Saint Paul’s School, as well as Labrie’s perceived privileged background. Prior reports noted he got accepted to Harvard, intending to obtain a ministry degree.

Conviction And Appeal Bail

Labrie was convicted of sex with a minor stemming from the prep-student tradition called the “senior salute,” where seniors enticed underclassmen girls into having sex with them.

The judge allowed Labrie to be free on bail as he appealed the conviction. The bond term Labrie broke was a curfew—his bail order required him to be at home at his mother’s house by 5 pm. The violation unraveled when a reporter discovered him riding a train to Boston. He answered her questions, including his concern about jeopardizing curfew, and she tweeted about the encounter. According to the reporter, he took the train to visit a long-term girlfriend at Harvard, about 150 miles away from his mother’s home.

When prosecutors moved to revoke the bond, Labrie’s legal team admitted the violation. They contended he broke curfew to attend school and meet with his trial lawyers.

The judge was unmoved. He revoked bond, sending Labrie to serve a year-long sentence at a New Hampshire jail.

Lessons Learned

Is any train trip worth a year in jail? Anyone out on bail or bond can learn from Labrie’s case:

  • What bail is, and what it’s not. Bail is the conditional right not to be held in jail awaiting the final decision in your case. Consider it a privilege. Bail is NOT total freedom. You are bound by conditions set by a judge.
  • Don’t violate bail, even if you don’t like it. Labrie’s new legal team argued his bond curfew was “excessive.” With all respect to counsel, that’s irrelevant. Bail is a court order. You’re bound by it even if you don’t like it. When you’re in a hurry to get to work, it doesn’t give you the right to run red lights, either. Getting caught has real consequences.
  • Bail bond violations can mean revocation. Revocation often means you go to jail. Even if you don’t go to jail, you can expect harsher conditions—like maybe house arrest with an ankle bracelet or a higher bond amount. And walking into a bail revocation hearing without a lawyer is like walking into an operating room without a surgeon.
  • If you can’t live with bail terms for an extremely good reason, try to get the terms amended instead. An experienced criminal defense lawyer may be able to get prosecutors to agree to a better order, but you’ll need an extremely good reason. Maybe Labrie could have gotten that by pointing out he had no other way to get course credit without coming close to violating curfew. He could have proposed altering it for that purpose, including stringent check in requirements.

Get Experienced Help And Advice on Bond

The best way to prevent a bond revocation is prevent it from being an issue in the first place. If possible, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer BEFORE you get a bail order to help avoid limitations unavoidably hurting your ability to improve yourself or make a living. And if things change after you make bail, you need someone to help you determine the best path to protect yourself from revocation.

If you’re on bond and worried about violating it or are facing potential charges and need to know more, check out the related links below. But most important, call us at (888) 230-1841 so we can start helping you get the best bail order possible and, most importantly, get on the road to winning your case.


Rob Usry
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Rob is a Spartanburg personal injury lawyer. Rob also practices as a workers' compensation attorney.