House Bill 204
149th General Assembly (Present)
Becomes effective upon date of signature of the Governor or upon date specified
AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 11 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO RELEASE OF PERSONS ACCUSED OF CRIMES.
This Act makes a number of changes to Chapter 21, Title 11 of the Delaware Code, with the goal of modernizing the pretrial process, reducing reliance on monetary conditions, improving the efficiency and outcomes for the criminal justice system, and ensuring the safety of the community. An analysis of data for pretrial detention and bail shows that Delaware’s bail system is failing in two ways: we unnecessarily detain individuals who lack funds for their release, and on the other end of the spectrum, we release defendants who fail to appear or remain law abiding during their period of pretrial release. The Courts, the Department of Correction, the Office of Defense Services, the Attorney General’s Offices, members of law enforcement and the private defense bar, and the Delaware Center for Justice have worked collaboratively to propose the changes embodied in this bill, and will continue to work on further revisions. Specifically, this Act makes the following changes to the bail/pretrial process: - Use risk to determine conditions: Require courts to consider risk by using empirically-based tools to determine whether a defendant is likely to stay out of trouble and come to court, and use that information to make individualized “assignments” of conditions of release. - Defines purpose of release conditions: Limit conditions of release to things that will reasonably assure the defendant will show up in court, and protect victims, witnesses, and community members. - Create more opportunities for conditions to be added or removed: Make release conditions “living documents” that will automatically be reviewed if a defendant does not initially meet them, if a defendant does meet them and then violates those terms, or if the defendant or their custodian makes a motion to modify those conditions. - Empower pretrial officers: Gives Department of Corrections more tools to investigate and address violations of release conditions so the courts can address violations promptly and impose sanctions if necessary. This bill further requires the court to conduct a review of conditions of pretrial release for a defendant who remains detained after 72 hours from the defendant’s initial presentment because of inability to meet any condition of release (including a financial condition). Such a review must happen within ten days of detention.