The legislation, ‘An Act to Protect Victims of Crimes and the Public’ was filed in December 2021 and is currently before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. The bill is an updated version of previous legislation filed by the Governor to address public safety concerns across the Commonwealth.
Items the legislation aims to address include:
- The right for the prosecution to request a dangerousness hearing for certain criminal acts, such as rape or indecent assault and battery on a child, where the prosecution believes there is substantial danger to the public where the defendant is likely to commit another crime while released or poses a threat to the community and victim(s).
- Strengthen the consequences for those who are found in violation of their release on bail and/or of pretrial conditions.
- Create a new felony offense for a defendant that has cut off their court-ordered GPS device.
- Improve the system for notifying victims of crimes of abuse and other dangerous crimes when a defendant is set to be released.
- Empower police to detain people found violating their court-ordered release conditions. The current law does not allow this.
- Authorize judges to revoke a person’s release when the offender is found violating their court-ordered condition(s), such as to stay away from the victim or from a public playground.
- Allow bail commissioners and bail magistrates to consider dangerousness in deciding whether to release an arrestee from a police station when court is out of session.
- Create a task force to recommend adding information to criminal records so that prosecutors and judges can make more informed recommendations and decisions about conditions of release and possible detention on grounds of dangerousness.
- Clarify the permissible sentences following conviction for certain serious crimes: that probation is not a permissible sentence for home invasion or commission of a felony after two prior significant felony convictions; and that the sentence imposed on a person convicted of committing a felony while in possession of a firearm is a minimum mandatory sentence.
Mayor Sarno states, “I fully support Governor Baker’s dangerousness legislation. The language in this bill is common sense language that will help keep our residents and business community safe. It would also provide better protections for victims of these specific crimes so they can feel safe and secure and not feel threatened or harassed. I am pleased to see that the Governor’s legislation also takes language from my bail reform legislation to help even the playing field for our District Attorneys, in addition to defendants, so they can have the option to appeal the release decisions from district court to the state superior court. In addition, I fully support the provision of creating a new felony offense for defendants that have cut off their court-ordered GPS device. Too often we see repeat criminal offenders ignoring and laughing at the courts on their pretrial bail conditions with little to no consequences. There must be accountability somewhere and the Governor’s legislation is a good start.”
For more information on pending state legislation, please visit the State Legislature website at www.malegislature.gov