Bill Would Give More Discretion Over Bail

Legislation has been introduced in the state Senate to expand the list of crimes for which judges can set bail.

The legislation, S.6407, has been sponsored by Sen. James Gaughran, D-Northport, and is co-sponsored by Monica Martinez, D-Brentwood, John Brooks, D-Seaford, Anna Kaplan, D-Great Neck, and Kevin Thomas, D-Levittown. It would provide judges additional discretion in determining if someone accused of a crime should be jailed or required to post bail or bond as a condition of pre-trial release. The legislation has been referred to the Senate’s Rules Committee. The issue was not discussed at the Rules Committee’s meeting on Tuesday.

“The 2019 Enacted Budget contained several measures aimed at reforming the Criminal Justice System. One of the reforms advanced was the elimination of remand and cash bail for certain criminal offenses,” Gaughran said in the bill’s legislative justification.”

“While the elimination of remand and cash bail for low-level, non-violent crimes is a noble cause, judges should have discretion in determining whether bail, bond or pre-trial detention is needed for some of the more serious criminal offenses. This bill adds to the list of qualifying offenses for which judges will have discretion to determine the pre-trial requirements for certain criminal defendant.”

Qualifying offenses would include:

¯ All categories of second- and third-burglary, third-degree assault, aggravated vehicular assault, aggravated assault upon a person less than 11 years old, criminally negligent homicide, aggravated vehicular homicide, second-degree manslaughter, first-degree unlawful imprisonment, first-degree coercion, third- and fourth-degree arson, first-degree grand larceny, criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds or criminal possession of a firearm.

¯ “High-level drug crimes” to the list of qualifying offenses and encompass charges of first- and second-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, first- and second-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and criminal sale of a controlled substance in or near school grounds.

¯ Some felony drug offenses involving the use of children to commit a controlled substance offense and criminal sale of a controlled substance to a child

¯ First-degree promoting prostitution and compelling prostitution.

¯ First-degree criminal solicitation and first-degree criminal solicitation

¯ Third- and fourth-degree money laundering in support of terrorism and making a terroristic threat

¯ Patronizing a person for prostitution in a school zone, promoting an obscene sexual performance by a child, possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child, promoting a sexual performance by a child and failure to register as a sex offender

¯ First- and second-degree obstructing governmental administration, obstructing governmental administration by means of a self-defense spray device, first-degree bribery, bribe giving for public office, first-degree bribe receiving, first- and second-degree promoting prison contraband, resisting arrest, hindering prosecution, tampering with a juror and tampering with physical evidence.

¯ First-degree aggravated harassment and first-degree directing a laser at an aircraft

¯ fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon and criminal sale of a firearm to a minor

¯ Enterprise corruption and first-degree money laundering

¯ Aggravated cruelty to animals; overdriving, torturing and injuring animals; failure to provide proper sustenance and animal fighting.

“When an individual poses a clear danger to public safety, an unbiased judicial expert must have the discretion to choose whether or not to release them without bail,” Gaughran said in a news release. “My bill advances on the historic criminal justice reforms made this year by maintaining the elimination of cash bail for low-level offenses, and returns a critical protection to judges by allowing them discretion to determine whether an individual poses a credible and identifiable threat to the public. It will ensure alleged offenders, whose release poses an imminent danger to society, are not automatically released back into the public, including violent repeat offenders, individuals accused of heinous sex crimes against children, those charged with high-level drug trafficking, and individuals who aid or fund terrorists.”