State legislatures consider and enact laws that address all aspects of pretrial policy, including citations, release eligibility, conditions of release, commercial bail bonding, victims’ rights and diversion. These legislative policies have an important role in providing fair, efficient and safe practices carried out by law enforcement and the courts.
Below is a synopsis of this state’s pretrial release laws as of March 2013 and any relevant legislative reports or audits. Recent enactments modifying these provisions can be found in NCSL’s pretrial enactments database.
Citation in Lieu of Arrest
Issuing a citation is not presumptive, however a citation can be issued for misdemeanors, writing worthless checks, and felony theft or possession of stolen things if the value is between $500 and $1000. Citations can be issued prior to arrest by peace officers. (C. Cr. P. Art. 211)
Pretrial Release Eligibility
State constitution and statute provide a presumption of pretrial release. Pretrial release can be denied for capital offenses; violent offenses; and production, manufacture, distribution, dispersion or possession with intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense a controlled substance. (Const. Art. 1 §18; C. Cr. P. Art. 330 & 331)
Pretrial Release Conditions
Law allows release on personal recognizance or an unsecured appearance bond. Common conditions of release include: commercial surety, cash deposit, property bond, supervision and additional requirements. Electronic monitoring is authorized for defendants in Lafourche Parish except violent and sex offenses. A secured bond of an amount determined by the court is required for sex offenses where the victim is under the age of 13 years old and has a similar prior conviction within 10 years. (C. Cr. P. Art. 312, 335, & 336)
Defendants charged with capital offenses, violent offenses, production, manufacture, distribution or dispersion, or possession with intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense a controlled substance require a hearing to deny pretrial release. State law specifies time frames for when the hearing must be held and addresses detainment of the defendant pending the outcome of the hearing. (C. Cr. P. Art. 330.1)
Bail Bond Agent Licensure
The Department of Insurance regulates bail bond producers. To be licensed, applicants must meet age, residency, prelicense education and continuing education requirements, and pass an exam. Crimes for which a license can be denied or revoked include all felonies, misdemeanors involving moral turpitude or public corruption, and participation in a pretrial diversion program for a felony charge. (R.S. 22 §§1556, 1571, & 1584)
Bail Bond Agent Business Practices
The premium rate a bail agent can charge is the greater of $120 or 12 percent of the bond. Bail agents cannot make arrangements with public officials. (R.S. 22 §§1443 & 1556)
Bail Forfeiture Procedure
After notification of their client’s failure to appear, a bail agent has 210 days for bonds under $50,000 and 400 days for bonds over $50,000 to produce the defendant or provide an adequate reason why the defendant did not appear. Unpaid forfeitures can result in suspension of the agent’s authority to execute new bonds. (R.S. 15 §85)
Recovery agents are overseen by the same regulatory authority as bail agents and are subject to lesser licensing requirements. (R.S. 22 §§1581 & 1583)
Victims’ Rights and Protections
Victims have the right to notification of the pretrial release hearing and of pretrial release. Electronic monitoring can be ordered for aggravated rape. Electronic monitoring that includes an electronic receptor device can also be ordered for offenses against a family or household member or dating partner, domestic abuse battery and stalking. (R.S. 46 §1844(A)(3); C. Cr. P. Art. 335.1 & 336.1(B))
Mental health and human trafficking problem solving courts are authorized diversion programs. (R.S. 13 §§587.4 & 5353)
Full text of statutes can be retrieved using NCSL’s State Legislatures Internet Links database or learn more about NCSL’s Criminal Justice Program.