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Bail Reform and Criminal Justice Changes Effective from January 2020

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Man hikingWe’ve talked about the notion of bail reform in previous articles. It’s a rather controversial topic, that has many people divided. In attempt to avoid overcrowding in jails, bail reform proposes that only defendants who present genuine safety risks to the public be detained in jail as they await their trial, while all other defendants be released on personal recognizance bonds.

Those in favor of bail reform believe it would establish a fairer criminal justice system, especially for people who can’t afford bail. Meanwhile those opposed to bail reform argue that pre-trail release poses a risk to public safety and deceases accountability.

Regardless of where you stand, in January 2020, there will be significant changes happening to the criminal justice system in New York thanks to the state’s new bail reform laws. If someone you know is in jail or seeking a bail bond, it’s important to know how these new bail rules may affect your loved one’s situation. Here’s what you need to know about bail reform and the new bail rules in 2020, as well as why you should seek a bail bonds agency to help you.

Facts to Know about Bail Reform and Criminal Justice Changes

Eliminating Bail

According to reports, nearly 900 city jail residents could be set free before New York’s bail reform law goes into effect on January 1, 2020. They might also receive taxpayer-funded gifts like free baseball tickets, movie passes, and gift cards to encourage these accused criminals to return to court. This proposed idea comes in response to a law signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in spring 2019 to eliminate cash bail for all defendants charged with a variety of misdemeanor and felony crimes and simply release them, pending their trials.

The Rules Apply to Various Offences

These new rules would apply to over 400 offenses including criminally negligent homicide, aggravated assault on a child under the age of 11, and selling drugs on or near school property. Judges will be unable to hold anyone arrested for a misdemeanor and certain felonies on cash bail. This also applies to those currently in jail who have not been convicted yet. They will need to see a judge to be released on or before January 1.

There Are Four Ways to Adapt to the New Law

Although the law goes into effect in the new year, inmates who are already in jail for committing the crimes listed above can apply to have their bail lifted and be freed. To avoid the onslaught of applications in January, the state Office of Court Administration has held several conferences to outline four ways to deal with the new law. These proposals include the following:

  • Allow judges to issue preemptive orders that abide by the new statute before the date it becomes effective. Upon a judge’s discretion, they can make certain release orders effective on January 1.
  • Wait-and-see.
  • Schedule January 2nd hearings for those whom it applies.
  • Issuing release orders that take effect on the first two days of the year.

Prosecutors Forced to Disclose Evidence to Defense

Another part of this reform program is that prosecutors will need to disclose evidence to the defense within 15 days of an indictment, whereas in the past they were only required to do so shortly before trial.

Jail Population

One of the major goals of the reform is to shrink the huge jail population. According to reports, pretrial detention, which involved jailing people who have been arrested but not yet convicted of a crime, is one of the biggest costs of the current system. Those held before trial are more likely of losing jobs, their homes, and the custody of their children, according to studies. The costs of pretrial detention in the U.S. is an estimated $14 billion annually.

Why You Should Care

As successful legal challenges to bail practices are being addressed across the country, more want to see reform in Texas as well. Currently, judicial officers across the nation set a bond amount based on the charge and require that arrestees pay it to be released from jail until their trial date. But one by one, cities, counties and states are putting cash-focused bail systems to rest. In replacement, they are seeking to make pretrial jail release decisions based on the risk level of these offenders and pushing to release low-risk defendants without a cash bond. The purpose of this change is to help offenders who are poor and who have committed nonviolent crimes from taking up jail space simply because they are unable to pay for a bail release.

However, there were concerns that these risk assessment tools could produce biased results to people of color. To resolve these concerns, an amendment was added to the bill in Texas that would require the tool to prove that it is unbiased and allow modifications if any concerns came up.

Many prosecutors and police unions across the country are concerned about this new decision in New York, insisting that it needs to be repealed, but what does this mean for your friend or loved one in Texas jail? An informed and experienced bail bondsman can help you and your loved ones navigate these upcoming changes in the new year.

Let PCS Bail Bonds Help You

If you are unsure about how these changes could affect your loved one in jail or out on bail, it is best to find out your rights and consult with a bail bondsman. PCS Bail Bonds provides 24-hour bail bonds for all kinds of charges including theft, drug possession, embezzlement, assault, and more. Our experienced agents can help you obtain a bond in a fraction of the time it takes other agencies.

Contact us now by phone at 817-335-1655, at our e-mail, visit in-person, or fill out our bail bond request form. You can be confident that you’re working with expert bail bondsmen who are dedicated to helping you.

Author: Paul Schuder

Paul Schuder is the owner of PCS Bail Bonds and Profession Court Services (PCS). He is a lifelong resident of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Paul has over twenty years of courthouse experience, and has been in businesses involving the criminal justice system for his entire career. Paul has helped thousands of clients with their pursuit of justice and fair play. Mr. Schuder maintains high levels of respect with all the court house personnel, especially judges and attorneys. Using a close hands-on personal approach and a keen understanding of all cultures, helps people when they need it most. Add me to your G+

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