Washington State

House of Representatives

Office of Program Research



Public Safety Committee

SB 5987

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

Brief Description: Concerning pretrial release programs.

Sponsors: Senator Padden.

Brief Summary of Bill

  • Specifies that pretrial release programs may include programs in superior, district, or municipal courts, and that the statutory provisions relating to conditions of release apply to felony, misdemeanor, and gross misdemeanor cases.

  • Expands the statutory purposes for imposing conditions of release to include protecting the public from harm.

Hearing Date: 2/15/18

Staff: Omeara Harrington (786-7136).


Pretrial release is the release of the defendant from detention pending trial. The Washington Constitution guarantees a right to pretrial release for most criminal defendants. Under court rule, there is a presumption that an accused person should be released on personal recognizance with no conditions unless the court determines that either: (1) the release on recognizance will not reasonably assure that the accused will appear; or (2) there is a likely danger that the accused will commit a violent crime or interfere with the administration of justice. The rule provides courts with factors to consider in determining whether the accused is a flight risk or likely dangerous. If these circumstances are found, the court may impose conditions of release.

Statutes supplement the court rules governing pretrial release. Under statute, in determining whether there are conditions of release that will reasonably assure the safety of any other person and the community, the court must take into account available information concerning:

Appropriate conditions of release that the court may impose include:

A "pretrial release program" is any program, either run directly by a county or city, or by a private or public entity through contract with a county or city, into whose custody an offender is released prior to trial for supervision. Supervision includes, but is not limited to, work release, day monitoring, electronic monitoring, or participation in a 24/7 Sobriety Program.

"Home detention" is a program of partial confinement available to offenders subject to electronic home monitoring, in which the offender is confined in a private residence 24 hours a day, unless otherwise authorized by the court or other supervising agency.

In a recent Washington Supreme Court case, Blomstrom v. Tripp, the court determined that a court of limited jurisdiction lacked the authority of law required to overcome constitutional privacy protection in imposing urinalysis as a pretrial condition for non-felony defendants. The court reasoned that current statutory authority is limited either to felony cases or cases involving specified circumstances and criminal history, and no authority is provided in court rule for imposing such conditions absent a nexus to risk of intimidation of witnesses, likely commission of a violent crime, or interference with the administration of justice.

Summary of Bill:

Legislative intent is stated that, while the primary function of bail is to assure an accused's reappearance in court, courts are allowed to pursue other compelling interests through pretrial release, including public safety. In addition, the Legislature intends to require an individualized determination of release for persons in custody.

Changes are made throughout the chapter on pretrial release to specify the types of cases and levels of court to which the provisions apply. It is specified that a "pretrial release program" may be a program in superior, district, or municipal court. The definition of "home detention" is specific to persons charged with a felony who are ordered to home detention. The provisions authorizing judicial officers to impose conditions of release and providing considerations for determining conditions of release apply to any felony, misdemeanor, or gross misdemeanor case.

The statutory purposes for imposing conditions of release are expanded to include protecting the public from harm.

Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Not requested.

Effective Date: The bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed.