THE SENATE

S.B. NO.

1538

THIRTIETH LEGISLATURE, 2019

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

 

relating to bail.

 

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 


SECTION 1. The legislature finds that federal courts have held that a defendant's financial circumstances and possible alternative release conditions must be considered prior to detention. Existing State law instructs all officers setting bail to consider the pecuniary circumstances of the accused party. The legislature believes that existing law should make clear that information regarding a defendant's financial circumstance, when available, should be considered when setting bail.

The legislature further finds that under the current pretrial system, bail amounts are not set uniformly across the circuits and, in some cases, bail amounts are not set on an individual, case-by-case basis. In any pretrial system that employs money bail, it is imperative that bail is set in amounts that the defendant is able to afford. While state and county law enforcement officers have the discretion to set appropriate amounts of bail, it is reasonable to order relatively similar bail amounts for similarly situated defendants statewide. Recent anecdotal observations in the first circuit suggest a possible trend of bail settings in felony cases in amounts similar to those on the neighbor islands. These observations are encouraging and may be evidence of an evolving recognition and commitment by police and prosecutors to set bail in reasonable amounts that reflect the defendant's ability to post.

Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to require monetary bail to be set in reasonable amounts based upon all available information, including the defendant's financial circumstances.

SECTION 2. Section 804-9, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

"804-9 Amount. The amount of bail rests in the discretion of the justice or judge or the officers named in section 804-5[; but] and shall be set in reasonable amounts based upon all available information, including the alleged offense, possible punishment upon conviction, and the offender's financial ability to afford bail. Bail amounts should be so determined as not to suffer the wealthy to escape by the payment of a pecuniary penalty, nor to render the privilege useless to the poor. [In all cases, the officer letting to bail should consider the punishment to be inflicted on conviction, and the pecuniary circumstances of the party accused.]"

SECTION 3. This Act does not affect rights and duties that matured, penalties that were incurred, and proceedings that were begun before its effective date.

SECTION 4. Statutory material to be repealed is bracketed and stricken. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

 

INTRODUCED BY:

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Report Title:

Bail; Reasonable Amounts; Financial Circumstances

 

Description:

Requires bail to be set in reasonable amounts based upon all available information, including the alleged offense, possible punishment upon conviction, and the offender's financial ability to afford bail. Repeals the requirement of an officer letting to bail to consider the punishment to be inflicted on conviction and the pecuniary circumstances of the party accused.

 

 

 

The summary description of legislation appearing on this page is for informational purposes only and is not legislation or evidence of legislative intent.