The US and the Philippines are the only countries where commercial bail bond companies have dominance over pretrial release systems.
Bail Bond Industry And The Proposal
A 2-part proposed amendment on bail has been introduced to the New Mexico Constitution. According to the 1st part, judges can deny bail to dangerous defendants. Based on the 2nd one, defendants not considered as dangerous mustn’t be held prior to trial only because they cannot afford to post bail.
The bail industry doesn’t find the 1st part to be problematic. The 2nd part implies releasing defendants without bail because of financial inability.
The bail industry, together with Santa Fe’s two connected lobbyists, is going to fight the part of the amendment concerning financial inability to post bail. Moreover, State Attorney General Hector Balderas is also sure the provision should be reviewed.
Current Situation In The Bail Industry
Almost all defendants must post bail under New Mexico law.
According to State Supreme Court Justice Charles Daniels, this results in releasing dangerous defendants on bail. On the other hand, defendants not considered as dangerous are being held as they can’t afford to post bail.
Based on the proposal, bail to a felony defendant would be denied by a district judge if evidence proved no release conditions would protect any person or the community.
As of 2014, defendants must go free pending trial on the least restrictive conditions assuring their appearance in court and providing safety to the public. Defendants can be required to post a secured bond individually or with the help of a bail bondsmen if there are no other release conditions assuring appearance in court and safeguarding the public.
Since then, the bail industry businesses have dramatically reduced. Merchants should consider turning to EMB, the number one high-risk payment processor in the US for their bail bonds merchant account. EMB offers the most advanced security features to help you combat risks associated with your bail bond business.
Who Is For And Who Is Against?
Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe and State Supreme Court Justice Charles Daniels are among the main supporters of the proposed constitutional amendment. House Majority Leader Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, is also one of the sponsors of the proposal and is sure it doesn’t lack fairness.
Other backers include the American Civil Liberties Union, the state District Attorney’s Association, and the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association.
Artie Pepin, director of the Administrative Office of the Courts, believes communities will be protected better thanks to this amendment.
On the other hand, judges for the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court in Albuquerque to the Supreme Court, stating they had concerns about the added work on hearings.
Magistrate Judge in Harding County, Karen Mitchell, also told courts would soon witness numerous and extensive hearings on the issue of bail bond.
According to Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Richard Martinez, D-Española, the provision that enables pretrial detention of dangerous defendants would be abused by judges.