First Look at 2013 Pretrial Legislation

2013 Pretrial Legislation Update

Pretrial Legislation Content Summary

So far in the 2013 sessions, 47 states have introduced 411 measures addressing pretrial policy. In addition, 48 bills from New Jersey carried over from 2012. Of the 460 pieces of pretrial legislation that have been active during 2013, nine have been enacted or adopted. The issues focused on in 2013 legislation continue to follow trends of 2012, with release eligibility and specific bail conditions, pretrial services and commercial bond being addressed most often. 

This legislative overview is the second in a series reporting on pending and enacted state pretrial legislation. Building upon the first report, this edition discusses the landscape of new 2013 legislation and wraps up 2012 actions.

To find the full text of measures referenced, please visit NCSL’s webpage with links to individual state legislation searches. When searching, please note that some of the bills included are carried over from previous sessions. Those measures are identified with a year following the bill number in text. All pieces of legislation included in this overview were active during 2013 state legislative sessions. All legislative action is current through March 17, 2013.

2013 Introduced Bills

2013 Legislative Issues









2013 Legislation Status

Of the nine measures passed into law during 2013, seven were bills and two were resolutions. Virginia enacted four new laws, three of which  address procedure in pretrial processes. Virginia HB 1311 and Virginia SB 1118 enable courts to suspend the impact of their bail decision if a defendant is appealing bail to a higher court, while Virginia SB 1135 provides authority for courts to either require or excuse defendants from appearing in court when granting continuances.  

Two of the other enactments in Arkansas and Idaho address aspects of commercial bond. Arkansas HB 1086 provided an operating budget for the state’s Professional Bail Bondsman Licensing Board for fiscal year 2013-2014. Idaho SB 1016 removed language from the state’s code that had previously enabled a bail agent to prove he or she was licensed based on their filed copy with a clerk of the District Court.P

Pending Legislation


Bills addressing eligibility and conditions for pretrial release are the most common among pretrial legislation before states early this year. Legislation addressing crimes with firearms, and how they impact pretrial procedure, is pending in at least 10 states. Measures in Minnesota contain language that would require courts placing defendants accused of crimes of violence, including enumerated firearms crimes, in pretrial diversion programs to provide the defendant’s information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Tennessee and Vermont are considering bills that address firearms as a factor in release decisions and bail conditions. A California proposal would require that a pretrial investigative report be prepared prior to a court releasing any defendant charged with a violent felony, including a gun crime, on their own recognizance. The current bill would require an evidence-based pretrial risk assessment that evaluates and reports the defendant's probability of appearing at trial and his or her potential risk to public safety.  Pretrial reforms related to use of risk assessment and evaluative reports are seen in pending legislation in other states, including Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland and West Virginia. Other introduced legislation in early 2013 addresses commercial bonding and pretrial services, as well as pretrial matters related to domestic violence cases, victim’s issues or procedure related to undocumented immigrants. Several states also have bills pending related to citation in lieu of arrest.

2012 Wrap Up

Forty states considered 404 bills and resolutions that addressed pretrial release policy in 2012.  Of those measures, 117 were enacted or adopted and 48 bills, all from New Jersey, were carried over to 2013. Please refer to the 2012 Legislative Action map for a geographical and statistical breakdown of these measures and their final disposition. Since the previous report, two of the formerly pending 82 measures have been enacted. 

Final 2012 Legislative Action

Issues in 2012 Introduced LegislationIssues Addressed in 2012 Enactments

Additional Resources

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