Sixth arrest for violating court orders and eight felony charges since March 8, but bail reform is not to blame
COLONIE – A Colonie woman with a long history of arrests for violating court orders of protection was arrested for the fourth time in 16 days on Sunday, Aug. 27, after Colonie Town Judge David Green told police to release the woman on an appearance ticket 10 days earlier.
According to police reports, Colonie police arrested and charged Joyia Camaj, 40, of Colonie, on Thursday, Aug. 17 at 9:12 p.m. with burglary-criminal intent, criminal intent in the first degree and aggravated family offense, all felonies.
Police contacted Green, the on-call Town Judge, to come to the court to arraign Camaj. Green requested they release her on an appearance ticket for Aug. 30, according to the police report.
Under the 2023 bail reforms that took effect in June, a judge can set bail on a charge of criminal contempt in the first degree when it involves an order of protection. This case does.
According to a New York State Office of Judicial Support document that details issuing securing orders in town and village courts, criminal contempt in the first degree is eligible “only when the underlying allegation is that the defendant violated a duly served order of protection where the protected party is a member of the defendant’s same family or house.”
A family member of Camaj, who is the victim in most of the cases, has orders of protection from Camaj by Colonie Town Court. Camaj has violated those orders no fewer than six times since March 8.
In addition, Camaj was charged with criminal contempt in the first degree four times, but bail has to be set at arraignment by a judge, and this is the third time since March she was released on an appearance ticket.
In addition to the last two, Camaj had been arrested the prior day, Aug. 16, for criminal contempt – physical contact, a felony, and harassment, a misdemeanor, and arrested on Aug. 11 for felony criminal possession of a weapon (a knife), and menacing with a weapon for an incident on Aug. 9 where she allegedly threatened tenants who rent an apartment on the property listed as her residence.
Camaj has 20 arrests on her record, according to the Albany County District Attorney’s office. If any two of those arrests led to felony convictions, a judge would be required to remand her to jail without bail as a persistent felony offender, but none of these apply until the defendant is arraigned.
Camaj was transported from the Albany County jail on Aug. 30, where she had been housed since the last arrest, to appear in Colonie Town Court. Judge Green set bail at $5,000 or bond. She is scheduled back in court on Sept. 18.
Camaj was in court on June 20, where she pleaded down one felony and four misdemeanor counts from three separate arrests in March. Because the final, consolidated plea was not a felony, it stayed in Colonie Town Court. In those cases, she was arrested on March 6, 8 and 22.
All of those charges stem from domestic incidents where an order of protection was violated.
On all three arrests she was released on an appearance ticket, including one that included the felony charge. On March 8, Green was contacted by police at approximately 6 a.m., and he advised them to issue an appearance ticket for court on March 15.
At that point Green issued a no-illegal contact order of protection, where Camaj would be allowed to live or be near the victim, but not have any criminal activity near them. That was replaced with a full-stay away order in August. Neither seemed to work.
Green did not return a message for comment. Judges cannot comment on specific cases in front of them, but can speak about general policies.
Spotlight News contacted the New York State Office of Judicial Support and the Unified Court System for clarification on the most recent guidance on setting bail in Town and Village Courts.
Both responded and will clarify guidance on charges that were issued in this case. They will not comment on any specific case, but did not have a response by press time. We will update this story on Spotlightnews.com.