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 presumptive for misdemeanors that do not carry a penalty of imprisonment, misdemeanors with a maximum penalty of 90 days or less, and possession of marijuana. Citations cannot be issued for failure to comply with a peace officer; violation of a condition of pretrial release while charged with a sex crime against a minor; possession of an electronic control device after conviction of a drug felony or violent crime; violation of any out of state domestic violence ordinance; violation of an interim, temporary or final protective order; or abuse or neglect of an animal. Citations can be issued at any time during the arrest process by peace officers. Additionally, citations can be used to charge sale of alcohol to an underage drinker or intoxicated person, malicious destruction of property if the amount of damage is less than $500, and misdemeanor theft. (Cr. P. Law §4-101)
Pretrial Release Eligibility
Pretrial release can be denied for violent offenses if the defendant has a previous conviction for a violent offense, offenses enumerated in Cr.P. Law §5-202-(d)(1) committed while on pretrial release for a similar offense, violation of a protection order involving threat or abuse of a family member, offenses enumerated in Cr.P. Law §5-202-(f)(1) if the defendant has a previous similar conviction, and for any offense if the defendant is a registered sex offender. (Cr. P. Law §5-202)
Guidance for Setting Release Conditions
Law requires a judicial officer to release a defendant who has previously failed to appear on the least onerous conditions that will reasonably ensure their appearance if they cannot be released on personal recognizance. (§6-411)
Pretrial Release Conditions
Law allows release on personal recognizance. Common conditions of release include: commercial surety, cash deposit, property bond, supervision and additional requirements. Electronic monitoring is authorized for any defendant eligible for pretrial release. (Cr. P. Law §5-101, -201, -203, -205 & -209)
When a defendant is unable to meet the pretrial release conditions, a judicial review is required immediately. (Cr. P. Law §5-215)
Bail Bond Agent Licensure
Bail bondsman must meet age requirements in order to be licensed. (Ins. Code §§10-304 & -305)
Bail Bond Agent Business Practices
Bail agents are prohibited from soliciting business in a correctional facility or in any court. Bail agents cannot make arrangements with public officials. (Cr. P. Law §5-210)
Victims’ Rights and Protections
Pretrial release hearings are required for violent crimes if the defendant has a prior similar conviction, crimes enumerated in Cr. P. Law §5-202(d)(1) while on pretrial release, a violation of a protection order; firearm offenses enumerated in Cr. P. Law §5-202(f)(1) if the defendant has a prior similar conviction, and for defendants required to register as a sex offender. (Cr. P. Law §5-202)
Full text of statutes can be retrieved using NCSL’s State Legislatures Internet Links database.
Full text of statutes can be retrieved using NCSL’s State Legislatures Internet Links database or learn more about NCSL’s Criminal Justice Program.