New bail laws could mean some suspects go free by end of year

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — New laws taking effect on January 1 could mean certain suspects will be set free without having to pay cash bail. Supporters say these are for mostly non-violent crimes, will help remedy the problem of overcrowding in jails, and deliver constitutional rights. 

“The system that currently exists results in people being detained, unable to post bail,” says attorney Mark Foti. He says individuals should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Adding that holding people with no conviction, at a high bail limit they can’t post is unconstitutional.

“With criminal justice reform it was very important that we do move forward,” said Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley.

Yet she says with bail reform, it’s concerning.

“For non-qualifying offenses, there will be a presumption of releases on their own recognizance,” says Doorley. She adds for an example, a person who commits a home burglary with no weapon, will now be released until trial, regardless of their prior criminal record. It changes criteria in place.

“There isn’t a component for ‘dangerousness’ that a court can look at,” she says.

Doorley adds 200 to 300 people could be released from county jail by year’s end. 

However, local defense attorney Mark Foti says they will likely not be violent offenders. He says to keep in mind that those who can’t pay bail aren’t yet convicted.  “The release of these individuals is something that really supports the fairness of our system,” he says.

Below is a list of offenses that will not qualify for bail from The District Attorneys Association of the State of New York:

  • Assault in the third degree
  • Aggravated vehicular assault
  • Aggravated assault upon a person less than eleven years old
  • Criminally negligent homicide
  • Aggravated vehicular homicide
  • Manslaughter in the second degree
  • Unlawful imprisonment in the first degree
  • Coercion in the first degree
  • Arson in the third and fourth degree
  • Grand larceny in the first degree
  • Criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds or criminal possession of a firearm
  • Criminal possession of a controlled substance in the first and second degree
  • Criminal sale of a controlled substance in the first and second degree
  • Criminal sale of a controlled substance in or near school grounds
  • Specified felony drug offenses involving the use of children, including the use of a child to commit a controlled substance offense and criminal sale of a controlled substance to a child
  • Criminal solicitation in the first degree and criminal facilitation in the first degree
  • Money laundering in support of terrorism in the third and fourth degree
  • 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
  • Failure to register as a sex offender
  • Obstructing governmental administration in the first and second degree
  • Obstructing governmental administration by means of a self-defense spray device
  • Bribery in the first degree
  • Bribe giving for public office
  • Bribe receiving in the first degree
  • Promoting prison contraband in the first and second degree
  • Resisting arrest
  • Hindering prosecution
  • Tampering with a juror and tampering with physical evidence
  • Aggravated harassment in the first degree
  • Directing a laser at an aircraft in the first degree
  • Criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree
  • Criminal sale of a firearm to a minor
  • Enterprise corruption and money laundering in the first degree
  • Aggravated cruelty to animals, overdriving, torturing and injuring animals
  • Failure to provide proper sustenance
  • Animal fighting

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