Pretrial Release | Massachusetts

3/13/2013

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.

Laws

Pretrial Release Eligibility

State statute provides a presumption of pretrial release. Pretrial release can be denied for capital offenses, burglary, arson, violation of a protection order, offenses involving domestic abuse, drug offenses with a mandatory minimum sentence of three years, intimidation of a witness, driving under the influence if the defendant has two prior similar convictions, illegal possession of a firearm as enumerated in 269 §10(a), (c) and (m) and 269 §10G; and any new offense committed while on pretrial release. (276 §§58 & 58A)

Guidance for Setting Release Conditions

State statute provides a presumption of pretrial release on personal recognizance. Law requires the least restrictive conditions be imposed. (276 §§58 & 58A(2)(B))

Pretrial Release Conditions

Law allows release on personal recognizance. Common conditions of release include: commercial surety, cash deposit, property bond, other secured bond, supervision and additional requirements. A minimum $500 full cash bond or minimum $1,000 real estate bond is required for influencing votes of employees and for promising appointments for political action. (276 §§57, 58, 58A, 61A, 61B)

Pretrial Detention

Defendants charged with burglary, arson, offenses involving domestic abuse, drug offenses with a mandatory minimum sentence of three years, intimidation of a witness, third or subsequent driving under the influence or illegal possession of a firearm as enumerated in 269 §10(a), (c) & (m) & 269 §10G require a hearing to deny pretrial release. State law specifies time frames for when the hearing must be held, addresses detainment of the defendant pending the outcome of the hearing and enumerates rights of the defendant. (276 §58A)

Bail Bond Agent Licensure

The Superior Court regulates professional bondsmen. (276 §61B)

Bail Forfeiture Procedure

Courts are instructed to consider absences due to an act of God, the federal government, any state, or by sentence of law. Statute addresses standards for remission procedure. Unpaid forfeitures can result in the suspension of the agent’s authority to execute new bonds. (276 §§61B, 69, & 70)

Victims’ Rights and Protections

Victims have the right to notification of pretrial release. Pretrial release hearings are required for a violation of a protection order, and for misdemeanor or felony abuse of a family or household member in violation of a protection order. Defendants charged with violation of a protection order or domestic violence offenses can be detained at least six hours after arrest.  (209A §6; 276 §57)

Pretrial Diversion

Veterans/active military diversion programs are authorized. Diversion is also authorized for offenses enumerated in 276A §2. (276A §1 et. seq.)

Resources

Full text of statutes can be retrieved using NCSL’s State Legislatures Internet Links database or learn more about NCSL’s Criminal Justice Program.