Hundreds re-offending on pre-trial release; Moylan and Barnett push for risk assessments

The vast majority of Guam’s local court defendants accused of crimes and released back into the community do not commit (or at least are not caught committing) crimes while they await their trials or plea agreements. But, according to data compiled by Douglas Moylan’s Office of the Attorney General of Guam, hundreds of them just this year have committed new crimes or violated the terms of their release.

“Our monthly reports show that criminal defendants lack respect for the Judiciary,” Mr. Moylan said. “If they had that respect, then you would not be having so many defendants being violated. Just last month, within a period of 30 days, the Court’s probation officers filed 87 violation reports of a pretrial defendant’s release conditions, 9 of which resulted in a new criminal case needing to be charged by my Office. More importantly, 9 new crime victims were now suffering due to a “bad call” in having released some criminal defendant.”

That data and the corresponding public outcry against repeat criminal offenders was enough to push Chris Barnett to introduce legislation addressing the issue. His Bill No. 131-34 will, if passed into law, expand the current mandate that judges order and review risk assessments on whether a criminal defendant essentially may kill another person on pre-trial release. Mr. Barnett’s proposed expansion of that mandate will require judges to order and review risk assessments on criminal defendants accused of violent crimes in both Superior Court and Family Court and whether those people likely will hurt others while on pre-trial release.

“We need more deterrence and processes in place to ensure the magistrate judges make the right call,” Mr. Moylan said in testimony supporting the Barnett bill, informing senators that his office provides courts the criminal history research of each defendant prior to a decision on release. “I am not for locking up everyone accused of a crime. However, I have cracked down hard on ensuring that the release orders better keep the bad guys in jail, and allowing the innocent and those trying to turn around their lives with a bail amount commensurate to ensure their following the judge’s order.”

Every month since February, Mr. Moylan has issued reports from his office showing the numbers of criminal defendants released pending trial who allegedly committed new crimes and violations of their release conditions.

In his latest report (covering September), the OAG tracked that 87 people on pre-trial and probationary release violated their release conditions, most of which involved meth use. Of the 87, nine were charged with new crimes including child abuse, family violence, assaulting a peace officer, drug possession, theft, and burglary, according to the report.

“We believe the data reflects the release conditions are not effectively stopping more crimes from occurring by these persons already in the criminal justice system,” the September report states.

Mr. Barnett’s bill has eight other sponsors, almost guaranteeing its passage in the legislature.


  • Alan San Nicolas

      10/19/2023 at 1:22 AM

    Mungnga ma ofresi ni kontrata aka plea agreement. Yanggen ilek ña I lai bente añus na poma presu pues ayu uma tatiyi. Ti huegu ” Chansa ” na huegon ” Toka “.

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