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State Representative wants stiffer bail for violent crime

Chris Rosato

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - It is not uncommon to hear folks frustrated about violent criminals being sent back out onto the streets shortly after they have committed a crime. But, a new law would make posting bail for these violent criminals a much more difficult thing to do.

When people commit a violent crime, most would say they would like to see that person behind bars. But, some believe right now it is too easy for some of these violent offenders to be bailed out and released back onto the streets.

“Violent crime in particular affects families in Louisiana more so than anything else,” said State Rep. John Stefanski (R).

Stefanski said violent crime is completely out of control and that his bill would require a minimum bond amount of 100,000 dollars for a violent crime, and 500,000 dollars for anyone who commits a violent crime while possessing a firearm.

“When you’ve been accused of these crimes that are so serious, I think before you’re allowed to go back into the public, in order to protect our families and friends throughout Louisiana, there needs to be an appropriate bond that’s set,” Rep. Stefanski added.

Should a judge grant bail less than the minimal amount, Stefanski’s bill would require that judge to provide written reasons for why they made that decision. He said this will only help promote transparency.

“And that means literally what it says, he has to sit down, write down and articulate why he decided that this person’s bond should be set lower than that minimum,” Stefanski continued.

Defense attorney Franz Borghardt said although he sees parts of the bill that could use some work, he thinks it is a good place to start.

“This guy is a state representative, and he’s running for attorney general. So, my knee-jerk reaction was initially is this just election legislation, and then the more I looked at it I was like, it’s actually not a bad piece of legislation,” said the attorney.

With that said, Borghardt thinks some of the wording in the bill could be fixed to make it better.

“The way the legislation is written now is if you do a violent crime while possessing a firearm, the bond starts at $500,000. I think that needs to be tweaked because the mere act of possessing a firearm during a violent crime doesn’t mean you were using the firearm during the crime. I think needs to be some clarification on what sorts of violent crime we’re talking about,” Borghardt added.

“Again, the judge still has some flexibility. So, that would be a great reason why a judge may say look, even though the law says $500,000 we’re gonna go lower because he didn’t actually use the weapon. Even though he had a weapon, he didn’t use it,” Stefanski explained.

Rep. Stefanski said he has received input from judges, district attorneys and public defenders and said they will be coming to the Capitol to speak on behalf of the bill when it comes up in committee. Lawmakers will return Monday for the start of the regular session.


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