Criminal laws change and evolve over time. In some instances, they are done to correct systemic problems. In others, they address public concerns stressed by the community. Whether it is apparent wrongs that need to be corrected to consider the rights of the accused or convicted or changes that are more procedural, changes in criminal laws are often done after much thought and deliberation.
Criminal law changes
The state of New York is experiencing changes made to the bail laws yet again. Based on reports, one of the most contentious items listed in New York’s $220 billion budget deal had to do with the changes in laws concerning bail for criminal defendants. Just three years ago, the state passed laws the governed bail; however, legislators seek to revise them for the second time.
As it stands, the 2019 legislation makes it so judges could no longer set bail for a wide range of misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies. Also, when bail could be set, judges were compelled to consider the ability for the defendant to pay. In short, the rules were set to prevent low-income defendants from being disproportionately jailed due to their inability to pay bail.
Revisions were made in 2020. This resulted in two dozen crimes added to the list of serious charges for which a judge is permitted to impose a cash bail. Additionally, it added situations where the defendant’s criminal history could be considered when setting bail.
Various changes are currently being sought. To begin, in the state of New York, bail is used solely for the purpose to ensure that defendants return to court. In other words, they are not permitted to set high bails for those deemed dangerous and a public safety risk. As such, the desired changes seek to allow judges to consider the dangerousness of a defendant when setting bail.
Other proposed changes include considering the number of repeated offenses in a certain timeframe. This means that one may be accused of a minor crime but still have bail set because the defendant has committed that crime previously during a set period of time. Other changes address crimes of poverty and setting bail for most gun crimes.
Because the laws are ever-changing, it is important that one is aware of the current laws that apply to their situation. This not only ensures that you rights are protected, but it also aids one in devising an aggressive defense strategy.