What Are Your Rights: New York Bail Reform – What’s Next?

Recorded on March 23, 2022

There have been recent updates to New York’s criminal justice system, including bail reform measures introduced in 2020. Managing partner Paul Harding of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti is on CBS6 to help discuss the changes that have already happened and more changes that could be coming.

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Announcer: The following segment is sponsored by Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.

Interviewer: There have been sweeping changes to New York criminal justice system, especially with the bail reform. To join us to talk about the changes that have already happened and more changes that could be coming is Paul Harding of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.

Paul, what exactly is bail in context of a criminal proceeding, and what sort of changes were made to bail procedures under the amended laws in recent years?

Paul: So what bail is not, it’s not meant to be punishment, right? You’re not meant to be punished when you’re given a bail. What it really is, is to ensure that you’re gonna come back to court, you’re gonna face the charges that you were given. But what we saw recently is sort of this bail reform, which sort of almost nearly eliminated bail for virtually all crimes, and of course, when that happens, it just sort of takes the discretion and takes some of the basic foundational pieces of the court system and got rid of them. And we’ve seen a lot of public outcry.

Interviewer: So, Paul, what was the thought process behind changing the bail procedures in New York?

Paul: Yeah, I mean, it was genuine and sincere, you know, because it felt like, “Hey, if you didn’t have any money, you were staying in jail. If you had the money, you were going home to work on your defense.” So it was meant to kinda equalize folks of different socioeconomic backgrounds. So the intent was good, and the question is, “Was it a little overreaching?”

Interviewer: Okay. So bail laws in the state were reformed just a couple of years ago. What new changes are now being considered once again?

Paul: Well, you know, it’s hard to get away from this stuff. You read the news, and you hear that somebody was arrested, let go, create another crime, and there’s been some real infamous ones that have happened. So what they’re doing is giving police discretion to not just issue an appearance ticket, “Hey, go to court tomorrow, but we can detain you, we can bring you in, and maybe, get you in front of a judge who can assess the situation and say, ‘If we release them right now, there’s a good chance that there’s gonna be more trouble today.'” So, I think that that’s what they’re looking to do, some sort of common-sense approach to situations, and then with the ability to monitor that.

Interviewer: Last question, Paul, why are state legislatures, once again, proposing changes to our bail laws here in New York?

Paul: Well, you know, which is super neat is that they listen, right? And so they’ve heard from the district attorneys, they’ve heard from the people, and yet there’s opposition saying, “Hey, keep it the same.” But right now, the voices and the logic seems to be leading them down a path to make some change. They going back to the way it was before? No. They modifying what they did two years ago? It would appear that that’s what we’re gonna see.

Interviewer: Paul Harding, a wealth of knowledge. We always appreciate the time.

Paul: Thank you.

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