Green signs into law measure on conditions of felony charges

Gov. Josh Green on Wednesday signed into law a bill that codifies the conditions under which felony prosecutions can be initiated within Hawaii.

Senate Bill 36 amends state law to allow county prosecutors to initiate felony cases following preliminary hearings, and prohibits multiple attempts to initiate a felony prosecution for an offense, except in certain circumstances.


The amendment to HRS Section 801-1 resolves an issue from the Hawaii Supreme Court decision in State v. Obrero, in which the court ruled that HRS 801-1 did not permit initiation of felony criminal charges via a preliminary hearing. The ruling came despite active use of the process for roughly 40 years.

A subsection of SB36 limits the prosecution to one attempt to charge a felony case via grand jury indictment or complaint following a preliminary hearing unless certain conditions are met — including presentation of additional material evidence, there is evidence of misconduct by the grand jury or grand jury counsel, or if a court finds good cause to allow another attempt.

“The people of Hawaii want to feel safe in their homes and communities and have every right to expect government leaders to provide public safety,” Green said. “This legislation is a tool that will help our law enforcement officers and county prosecutors continue their work toward that goal.”

Upon his signature Wednesday, SB36 became Act 1.

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