Gaughran Proposes Changes in New Bail Practices

State Sens. Jim Gaughran and Monica Martinez are proposing changes in bail practices to reforms passed earlier this year.

The bill, S.6407, adds to the list of qualifying offenses over which judges have discretion to determine the pre-trial requirements for certain criminal defendants to protect the public from individuals who pose a credible and identifiable safety threat. The limited offenses being added include manslaughter, sex crimes including against children, terrorism related charges, high-level Class A felony drug crimes related to drug trafficking, and bribery offenses involving public officials. The bill focuses on individuals, whose release is guaranteed without the allowance of judicial discretion, who pose a clear and dangerous threat to public safety.

Bail reforms passed by the state Legislature earlier this year as part of the state budget was met with significant criticism that it had gone too far, by taking away judges’ ability to determine what, if any, bail should be set.

The Gaughran and Martinez bill stands by the basic reforms, which eliminated cash bail for many low-level charges.

Senator Jim Gaughran said “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. 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.”

Timothy Sini, Suffolk County District Attorney, said “I want to thank Senators Gaughran and Martinez for their diligent work towards improving this legislation and ensuring that public safety is effectively protected.  I also want to thank them for their willingness to engage law enforcement on this important issue.”

Pat Saunders, Suffolk PBA State Legislative Director, said “The Bail Reform contained in the 2019-20 FY Budget has serious flaws. It is the hope of the Suffolk PBA that these flaws will be corrected and amended before the bill takes effect. This is a step towards that.”

Linda Beigel Schulman, gun reform advocate, said “New York has made tremendous advancements in protecting our schools and our children from senseless gun violence with the enactment of the SAFE Act and the Red Flag Law.  My son, Scott J. Beigel, was murdered at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida by an ex-student who brought an AR-15 onto the school grounds. I know that the passage of this bill,  S6407, is critical to ensuring that individuals who endanger our children and our schools with a deadly weapon on school grounds are not automatically released back into society without consideration of the imminent threat they pose to public safety. I am calling for passage of this bill before the end of this year’s legislative session so as to eliminate this oversight before January 1st, 2020.”

A list of qualifying offenses that this bill addresses includes:

  • Assault in the third degree as defined in section 120.00 of the penal law

  • Failure to register as a sex offender section 168-t of corrections law

  • Aggravated assault upon a person less than eleven years old as defined in section 120.12 of the penal law

  • Patronizing a person for prostitution in a school zone as defined in section 230.08 of the penal law

  • Criminal possession of a weapon on school grounds section 265.01A of penal law

  • Certain offenses related to organized crime including enterprise corruption as defined in section 460.20 of the penal law

  • Directing a laser at an aircraft section 240.77

  • Aggravated vehicular assault as defined in section 120.04-a of the penal law

  • Criminally negligent homicide

  • Manslaughter in the second degree as defined in section 125.15 of the penal law

  • Certain offense against public order, public sensibilities and the right to privacy including aggravated harassment in the first degree as defined in section 240.31

  • All class-A felony drug related crimes, which can be related to drug trafficking

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