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 where there is probable cause to believe a crime has been or is being committed. Citations can be issued prior to arrest by law enforcement officers. (17-A § 15-A)
Pretrial Release Eligibility
State statute provides a presumption of pretrial release. Pretrial release can be denied for crimes that are currently or were formerly a capital offense, regardless of current penalty. (Const. art. 1 § 10; 15 § 1003(3) & (4))
Guidance for Setting Release Conditions
State statute provides a presumption of pretrial release on personal recognizance or unsecured appearance bond. Law requires the least restrictive conditions be imposed. Courts are instructed to use a risk assessment for domestic violence offenses. (15 §1026 (2-A), (3-A) & (4)(9-A) )
Pretrial Release Conditions
Law allows release on personal recognizance or an unsecured appearance bond. Common conditions of release include: commercial surety, cash deposit, other secured bond, supervision and additional requirements. (15 § 1071, §1026, §1073)
Defendants charged with crimes that are currently or were formerly a capital offense, regardless of the current penalty, require a hearing to deny pretrial release. State law specifies time frames for when the hearing must be held. When a defendant is unable to meet the pretrial release conditions, a judicial review is required within 48 hours of receiving the request. (15 § 1027; § 1029; 15 § 1028)
Bail Forfeiture Procedure
After notification of their client’s failure to appear, a bail agent has 30 days to produce the defendant or provide an adequate reason why the defendant did not appear. Statute addresses standards for remission procedure. (Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 46)
Victims’ Rights and Protections
Victims have the right to notification of pretrial release. Pretrial release hearings are required for offenses against a family or household member as enumerated in 15 § 1023(B-1) & (4)(c), domestic violence, sexual assault, and sexual exploitation of a minor while on pretrial release. (17-A § 1175-A(2); 15 § 1023(4))
Diversion programs authorized include: substance abuse, mental health and veterans/active military problem-solving courts. (4 § 431; § 433; § 421)
Full text of statutes can be retrieved using NCSL’s State Legislatures Internet Links database or learn more about NCSL’s Criminal Justice Program.