Serious violent, sexual or drugs offenders now face greater hurdles to getting bail after sweeping changes to bail laws were backed by Parliament.

The Bail Amendment Bill passed into law this morning by 102 votes to 19. It was opposed by the Greens, the Maori Party, Mana and Brendan Horan.

The bill would require that a person on a murder charge or repeat violence, drugs or sex charges would have to persuade a judge that the community would be safe if they were released.

Under present law, the Crown must show why defendants should be locked up.


Justice Minister Judith Collins said the legislation put victims at the heart of the criminal justice system. She was confident it struck the right balance between public safety and a defendant's right to be considered innocent until proven guilty.

Opponents argued that people would be locked up for longer on the presumption that they would offend again in future - a breach of the Bill of Rights Act.

The legislation coincided with a movement called "Christie's Law". It sought tighter bail laws after the murder of North Shore teenager Christie Marceau at the hands of 19-year-old Akshay Chand, who was on bail at the time.

The bill would also make it more difficult for young, repeat offenders to get bail, and allow police to arrest people who repeatedly breached bail without a warrant.