PA 17-145—sHB 7044

Judiciary Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING PRETRIAL JUSTICE REFORM

SUMMARY: This act makes various changes in laws concerning pretrial detention, including:

1. barring courts from prohibiting a bond from being posted by surety for certain crimes (in other words, barring courts from requiring cash-only bail for such crimes);

2. limiting the circumstances in which a court can impose financial conditions of release for someone charged only with a misdemeanor that is not a family violence crime;

3. generally shortening the time within which defendants who cannot make bail and who were charged only with a misdemeanor must receive a bail review hearing, from within 30 days after the person's detention to within 14 days after his or her arraignment; and

4. requiring the court, at a bail review hearing for such a defendant, to remove the financial conditions on the person's release unless the court makes certain findings.

The act also requires the Office of Policy and Management's under secretary for criminal justice policy and planning to study the feasibility of establishing an assistance program for indigent criminal defendants detained before trial for allegedly having committed minor crimes. He must undertake the study in consultation with the Connecticut Sentencing Commission, the Bail Association of Connecticut's board of directors, and licensed surety bail bond agents and tenured property bail agents who are not members of the association. The study must explore possible funding sources for the program. By January 1, 2018, the under secretary must report on the study's results to the Judiciary Committee.

The act also makes minor and technical changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2017, except upon passage for the study provisions.

1 — CONDITIONS OF RELEASE

Under existing law, when an arrested person is presented to court for a bailable offense, the court must promptly order the person's release on the first of the following conditions it determines to be sufficient to reasonably ensure his or her appearance in court:

1. written promise to appear without special conditions,

2. written promise to appear with non-financial conditions,

3. bond without surety in no greater an amount than necessary, or

4. bond with surety in no greater an amount than necessary.

The act makes two changes that limit, in certain circumstances, the conditions of release that a court can impose. First, the act limits the circumstances when courts may impose financial conditions of release on a defendant charged only with a misdemeanor other than a family violence crime (see Misdemeanor Defendants below). Second, it bars a judge from prohibiting a bond from being posted by surety.

The act also modifies the factors the court may consider in determining the conditions of release. Under prior law, one such factor was the person's prior record of appearance in court after being admitted to bail. The act instead allows the court to consider such prior court appearances regardless of whether they occurred after the person was admitted to bail.

The above provisions do not apply to individuals arrested for the following crimes:

1. a class A felony;

2. a class B felony, except for 1st degree promoting prostitution or 1st degree larceny;

3. a class C felony, except for 2nd degree promoting prostitution, bribery of a juror, or bribe receiving by a juror;

4. the following class D felonies: 2nd degree assault, with or without a firearm; 2nd degree assault, with or without a firearm, of an elderly, blind, disabled, or pregnant person or a person with intellectual disability; 3rd degree sexual assault; 1st degree unlawful restraint; 3rd degree burglary, with or without a firearm; reckless burning; 3rd degree robbery; or criminal use of a firearm or electronic defense weapon; or

5. a family violence crime.

By law, when presented with someone arrested for any of these crimes, the court must order release if any one of certain conditions is met to reasonably ensure that the person will appear in court and that the safety of other people will not be endangered. In determining what conditions are appropriate, the court may consider additional factors beyond those allowed for other crimes (CGS 54-64a(b)).

Misdemeanor Defendants

The act prohibits a court from imposing financial conditions of release on a defendant charged only with a misdemeanor unless the (1) person is charged with a family violence crime, (2) person requests such conditions, or (3) court makes a finding on the record that there is a likely risk that any one of certain events will occur. Specifically, these risks include that the person will:

1. fail to appear in court;

2. obstruct or attempt to obstruct justice, or threaten, injure, or intimidate a prospective witness or juror or attempt to do so; or

3. engage in conduct that threatens his or her own safety or that of someone else.

In making such a finding, the act allows the court to consider the person's criminal history, including (1) any prior convictions for 1st degree failure to appear or (2) convictions during the preceding 10 years for 2nd degree failure to appear. The court may also consider the person's other pending criminal cases, if any.

2 — BAIL REVIEW HEARING

Individuals Charged with Misdemeanors

Prior law generally required a bail review hearing within 30 days after detention for a defendant who had not made bail and who was charged only with a misdemeanor. The act shortens this period to within 14 days following the person's arraignment unless the person waives the return to court.

Under the act, when a defendant charged only with a misdemeanor is presented in court for the bail review hearing, the court must remove the financial conditions on the person's release unless the court finds on that record that there is a likely risk that the individual will:

1. fail to appear in court;

2. obstruct or attempt to obstruct justice;

3. threaten, injure, or intimidate a prospective witness or juror or attempt to do so;

4. engage in conduct that threatens the safety of someone else; or

5. for misdemeanors that are not family violence crimes, engage in conduct that threatens the defendant's own safety.

Under the act, these provisions do not apply to someone detained for (1) extradition due to criminal charges in another state or (2) violating parole pending a parole revocation hearing. By law, the bail review period for such a defendant is 45 days.

Under existing law, unchanged by the act, anyone who has not made bail may ask at any time for a hearing on a motion to modify bail.

Individuals Charged with Class D or Class E Felonies

The act specifies that defendants charged with a class D or E felony may waive their right to a bail review hearing.