The Pretrial Integrity Act is now law in North Carolina thanks to the hard work, partnership and dedication of several people over the past 18 months. The law, which was first introduced in April 2023, will require judges, not magistrates, to set the conditions for pretrial release for certain violent offenders.
“This is a significant step in the right direction, and it will help to make our community a safer place,” said CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings. “We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure that our citizens are protected from those who would prey on them. I am grateful to Governor Cooper, Representatives John Bradford, Destin Hall and Abe Jones, District Attorney Spencer Merriweather and all of the other stakeholders who worked hard to make this happen.”
The law was passed by the North Carolina General Assembly after months of collaboration between Chief Jennings, Mecklenburg County District Attorney Spencer Merriweather, District Court Judge Elizabeth Trosch and many others.
“Justice isn’t about guaranteeing outcomes, but it should always be about ensuring accountability and raising public confidence,” said District Attorney Spencer Merriweather. “The passage of the Pretrial Integrity Act is itself an incremental step, but it is beyond gratifying to see our state government respond to crime victims’ demand for a justice system that takes public safety seriously. Additionally, better attention to pretrial release decisions can make criminal prosecutions more viable and give our community the chance to interrupt a cycle of recidivism by confronting root causes of crime. With these new measures, victims and witnesses can have greater faith that the judges directly accountable to them will appropriately consider their safety in determining whether a defendant should be released.”
“We have all been working together to improve our bail system,” said Chief Judge District Court Elizabeth Trosch. “I am grateful to Chief Jennings for his constructive leadership in seeking solutions that address repeat violent offenders. Judges have long been unable to detain the most violent defendants who have demonstrated that they are a threat to safety. This bill gives us the tools we need to better protect the community. While I am concerned that this bill will have unintended consequences that will overwhelm our courts, I am confident that our local leadership will work together to mitigate any harmful impacts.”
The Pretrial Integrity Act outlines 18 offenses that would require a judge to set the conditions for pretrial release. These offenses include Murder, Assault with a Deadly Weapon, Robbery with a Dangerous Weapon, and Sexual Assault. The law also provides for the following:
- Authorizes hearings to be held every 30 days for continued secure custody of 13-, 14-, or 15-year-old juveniles alleged to have committed a Class A felony.
- Provides judicial discretion in determining whether defendants charged with certain felonies shall be granted pretrial release and require a judge to set any conditions of release.
- Requires a judge to determine pretrial release conditions for any defendant charged with a new offense while under conditions of pretrial release for a prior offense but authorize a magistrate to set conditions if no judge has acted within 48 hours of arrest.
The Pretrial Integrity Act will go into effect Oct. 1, 2023, and will apply to offenses committed on or after that date.