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Ohio General Assembly to Consider Supreme Court's Proposed Bail Reform

Every year the Ohio Supreme Court proposes rules changes every year, and this year one of the rule changes impacts bail reform and Ohio Criminal Rule 46. One of the major proposed changes is a requirement that defendants have a bail hearing within two business days of arrest and that judges utilize the "least restrictive" conditions when imposing bail. Specifically:

The court shall release the defendant on the least restrictive conditions that, in the judgment of the court, will reasonably ensure the defendant's appearance in court, the protection of the safety of any person or the community, and that the defendant will not obstruct the criminal justice process. If the court orders monetary conditions of release, the court shall impose an amount and type which are least costly to the defendant while also sufficient to reasonably ensure the defendant's future appearance in court. 

Ideally, this will prevent bond from being used in a punitive manner against defendants. It also attempts to take into consideration a defendant's financial ability to pay, which is critical as the cash bond system can often inadvertently discriminate against the indigent.

One item not contained in the rule change is language that required the use of risk assessments to evaluate whether suspects should be freed while awaiting trial. Although the rules still allow for the risk assessments, they do not specifically cite them as factors to be considered during the bail process.

If the General Assembly does not vote to reject the changes, then Criminal Rule 46 will become effective on July 1, 2020. 

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