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Court Rules for Pretrial Release and Detention
The New Mexico Supreme Court prescribes rules of practice and procedure for all courts in the state. The Court appoints standing committees and ad hoc committees to make recommendations for drafting and revising rules, which are subject to approval of the Court.
The Court created the Ad Hoc Pretrial Release Committee in 2015 to review pretrial release law and practice, and recommend changes to improve pretrial release procedures. The committee included representation from the prosecution, the criminal defense bar, judges, the bail industry, jails and detention centers, and the Legislature.
After receiving the committee’s proposals and allowing a public comment period, the Court adopted revised rules to govern the pretrial release and detention of criminal defendants. Those rules became effective July 1, 2017. They are to ensure that pretrial release practices conform to requirements of a voter-approved 2016 amendment to the New Mexico Constitution, longstanding federal and state constitutional law, and principles in place since 1972 when pretrial release rules for the state courts were initially promulgated. Like the Federal Bail Reform Act of 1966, the New Mexico rules have always required that a person charged with a crime – who has not been adjudicated guilty – should be released pending trial on the least restrictive conditions necessary to minimize flight risk and assure public safety. The rules also have always instructed judges that money bonds may be imposed only if nonfinancial release conditions are inadequate to ensure a defendant’s return to court. See generally State v. Brown, 2014-NMSC-038, 338 P.3d 1276.
The Court has reactivated the Ad Hoc Pretrial Release Committee to consider comments about the 2017 rules from district attorneys, public defenders, courts and the criminal defense bar. Click here to read those comments. Any recommendations by the committee for rule revisions are subject to the Court’s review and approval.