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New Mexico Supreme Court Announces Change to Pretrial System

The New Mexico Supreme Court announced Wednesday that it has decided to change the state’s criminal justice system to keep more people in prison before trial.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The New Mexico Supreme Court announced Wednesday that it has decided to change the state’s criminal justice system to keep more people in prison before trial.

People awaiting trial will now be held in prison if they are charged with a new crime, while they will be released on conditions if the charge falls into certain categories.

They will remain in jail at least until the judge in the original case decides whether they should remain there.

The change comes into play for all crimes and misdemeanors: drunk driving, negligent use of a firearm, aggravated battery, stalking and some domestic violence charges.

Additionally, when a person awaiting trial violates their conditions of release – such as contacting someone they shouldn’t or possessing a gun when they shouldn’t – judges must consider changing those conditions of liberation.

“These rules are intended to ensure that we take a very close look at these defendants — our judges, our prosecutors and our defense attorneys — take a close look at these defendants,” said Karl Reifsteck, deputy director of the Administrative Office of the Courts. “Zoom in on this small portion of people who are being rearrested and take a very close look at them.”

Reifsteck said the state Supreme Court looked at some data, including a UNM study that showed 18 percent of people accused of crimes were rearrested before trial. It was in Bernalillo County for four years.

“There’s this segment of people that we really need to focus on and see how we can actually promote public safety as it relates to that group,” Reifsteck said. “The Supreme Court believes that in each case it requires careful consideration by our judges, our prosecutors and our defense attorneys. »

He said there have been cases where people have been released a second time after being charged with a new charge.

Two Albuquerque leaders who fought for these changes commented on them Wednesday.

“We all know the challenges we’ve had with this revolving door or rearrest issue. Today, I am grateful to our Supreme Court because it made a very sensible but specific change,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “It’s an elegant, simple and legal solution.”

“It helps us with our revolving door,” said Albuquerque Police Department Chief Harold Medina. “And honestly, it helps our judicial leaders make sure that they’re listening and can weigh in on decisions that they’ve made in the past.”