The state's controversial new "bail reform" and case evidence laws take effect Jan. 1, and law enforcement around the state has been meeting to discuss how they will adjust to systemic changes shoved down their throats with just 8.5 months to prepare.
There have been plenty of meetings locally, and discussions about how they are going to keep behind bars dangerous people who they know shouldn't be released no matter what the bail "reform" statutes say.
One move, which we saw in the recent case of Skyler Crouse, is to charge a crime that would be eligible for bail that in past years wouldn't be pursued. In Crouse's case, he allegedly committed second-degree manslaughter by recklessly killing Horicon resident Joseph Turcotte during a car chase.
Under one of the many quirks of state law, a felony assault charge for injuring Turcotte before he died can result in bail, so he will remain bars. Typically prosecutors wouldn't pursue an assault charge in a homicide case like that; now they will.
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The hastily written law, passed by the Legislature along with the state budget, lists crimes that will no longer be eligible for bail. But police and prosecutors have realized it does not spell out charges of "attempted" crimes as no longer being eligible for jail.
So it looks like a lot of burglars will be charged with attempted burglary come Jan. 1. You do have to attempt a burglary to commit one, right?
With prosecutors required as of Jan.1 to turn over all evidence in criminal cases within 15 days, it also sounds like there will be a lot of delayed non-violent crime arrests.
Police have time periods in which they can file charges after a crime occurs, and it appears they will be taking that time in more cases going forward so that they don't have to rush the evidence compilation process.
This is a lot of work and changes coming at a time when crime has dropped to historic lows in New York.
-- Don Lehman
Don Lehman covers police and court matters and Warren County government. He can be reached at 518-742-3224 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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