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Bill restricting granting of no-cash bail clears Georgia senate

The Georgia Senate on Thursday passed legislation that would mostly do away with the granting of no-cash bail to criminal suspects.

Often called a release on recognizance or signature bond, no-cash bail allows a defendant to sign a document promising to appear in court for trial or face a monetary penalty.

Senate Bill 63, which passed 30-17 along party lines, would prohibit judges from ordering no-cash bail unless the accused has been charged with a crime that does not carry a jail or prison sentence.

The ban on no-cash bail would apply to a long list of violent and nonviolent crimes, from murder and rape to possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and such white-collar crimes as forgery and financial transaction card fraud.

The Senate passed the bill last year but couldn’t reach agreement with the state House of Representatives before the 2023 legislative session adjourned. The version of the measure that passed Thursday was a compromise reached by a joint House-Senate conference committee.

One change in the final version of the bill would ban no-cash bail for nonviolent offenses including criminal trespass and theft by taking only if the suspect is being charged with a second offense.

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