The Legal Advocate

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New York Considers Overhaul to State Criminal Code

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During his State of the State address last month, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo put forward a five-prong measure that would reform the state’s criminal justice system.

With the goals of “removing critical barriers, reaffirming our beliefs in fairness, opportunity, and dignity, and continue our historic progress toward a more equal society for all,” Governor Cuomo proposed legislation that would:

  • “Eliminate monetary bail for people facing misdemeanor and non-violent felony charges;
  • “Expand the discovery process to include disclosure of information in a timely manner including evidence and information favorable to the defense; intended exhibits; expert opinion evidence; witnesses’ criminal history information; and search warrant information;
  • “Reduce unnecessary delays and adjournments in court proceedings, requiring that people held in custody—not just their attorneys—consent to a speedy trial waiver that must be approved by a judge and ensure that defendants are not being held unnecessarily when the prosecution fails to meet deadlines;
  • “Ban all asset seizures, unless an arrest is made and enhance reporting requirements for local law enforcement and District Attorneys; and
  • “Improve the re-entry process for individuals transitioning from incarceration to their communities.”

If passed, the measures would be a significant update to the New York State criminal code. The laws of discovery have remained largely unchanged since 1979.

Photo by Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cash (via Wikimedia Commons).

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