INDIANAPOLIS -- New rules in Marion County are allowing criminals – even violent ones – to be released on bond before they even step foot in front of a judge.
The five-page document from the Marion County Superior Court lays out the bond amounts for felony and misdemeanor charges.
In the past, a judge would hear the initial case and charges before determining bail amount – but these new rules remove that process altogether.
Level 1 Felonies - like attempted murder - get an automatic $50,000 surety bond. That means, with a bail bonds agency, the suspect only has to pay 10 percent or just $5,000.
For instance, according to the new rules, Felony 6 charges are an automatic $500 cash bail and release.
Those charges include:
Criminal Gang Activity
Pointing a Firearm
Resisting Law Enforcement
There are certain enhancements that add $500 more to the bond amount, like failing to appear one or more times for a previous charge or a prior felony conviction – but it does not take any other factors into account.
The rules - which you can read above - quietly went into effect last September and Call 6 Investigates has learned that Indianapolis police and the City-County Council were left completely out of the loop.
“(I) had no idea that they were finalized, approved and in effect,” said Councilwoman Christine Scales.
Scales sits on the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee and says she knew nothing about the new rules being in place until Call 6 handed her a copy earlier this week.
“Strangulation and criminal confinement? I mean – those are violent type offenses – they’re traumatic to the victims,” said Scales. “By attaching such a low dollar value to the bail amount I’m afraid we’re normalizing that kind of violence and minimizing its effect on the community.”
“Why are the key partners in the criminal justice process not being engaged in this conversation?” questioned Fraternal Order of Police President Rick Snyder.
Synder says what’s even more concerning is that some felony charges allow criminals to be released without any bond at all.
“The fact that you have crimes that you have listed on there that are also related to crimes of violence… like stalking and you have a low bond to get back out,” said Snyder.
“I think most people would be very concerned to know that somebody could get caught in the act – red-handed – stealing their property and have no bond,” said Snyder. “Simply be processed and released on their own recognizance.”
The following will be released on their own recognizance according to the new rule:
Operating a Vehicle as a Habitual Traffic Violator
Possession of Marijuana
You can read the full bail rule provided by the Marion County Superior Court below.