Legal Blog

New Jersey Bail Reform Aims to Help Poor Defendants

Author Clark & Noonan, LLC
Posted June 16, 2017
Category Criminal Defense

Wall New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorneys serving Monmouth County, Ocean County, Middlesex County and all surrounding NJ areas.

Posted: January 20, 2017

New Jersey bail reform is a constitutional amendment that was passed by vote of the New Jersey citizens several years ago. The law amends the bail system in New Jersey and took effect on January 1, 2017.

Historically, bail has been a monetary figure that is set by the court. Bail was guaranteed in all cases thus a bail amount was always set. However, in many instances, low bail amounts were unable to be met by poor defendants even if those defendants were accused of criminal offenses, which they would not ordinarily receive a prison sentence for if convicted. Thus, many times, poor individuals would have to sit in county jails awaiting trial or disposition of their case. The purpose of bail reform is to fundamentally change the above circumstances.

Pretrial Services

New Jersey bail reform pretrial release is governed by N.J.S.A. 2A:162-16. Under this statute, a pretrial services program was created. The pretrial services program will conduct a risk assessment of each defendant and will then make a recommendation to the reviewing court regarding whether the individual should be released pretrial, released with certain pretrial restrictions or remanded to the county jail while awaiting trial or disposition. The individual who is charged with a crime will remain in custody while pretrial services conducts their review assessment.

Bail Reform Procedure

The bail reform law mandates that a court make certain decisions about pretrial detention. The court must first determine if the person should be released on their own recognizance or an unsecured bond, which means that the person will not have to deposit any money to secure release should it be issued.

In order to attain a pretrial release, the court must find that the person:

  • Can be reasonably assured to appear in court.
  • Will not obstruct the criminal justice process.
  • Will not pose a danger to the community.

If the court finds that an unsecured bond or personal recognizance is not sufficient to assure the appearance of the defendant, the integrity of the criminal justice system and safety of the public, the court may order that the defendant be released with certain specific pretrial conditions which may include avoiding contact with the victim or witnesses and not committing any new offenses.

Finally, if the court still finds that no pretrial monetary bail and conditions will assure that the defendant appears for trial, protects the integrity of the criminal justice system and safety of the public, the court can order the defendant remanded to the county jail. This means that the defendant will remain in the county jail pending trial or disposition of their case. The speedy trial provisions under New Jersey law w­ill then apply to the detained individual.

Speedy Trial

The speedy trial provisions, which were enacted in conjunction with the new bail reform law, mandate that the defendant’s charges be presented to the grand jury for indictment within 90 days. The speedy trial provisions thereafter mandate that the defendant’s matter be set for trial within 180 days of the indictment. If these time provisions are not met, the defendant should be released from custody unless the prosecutor makes a specific showing as to why the delay occurred.

Prosecutor Seeks Remand

Under the bail reform procedures, a prosecutor may file a motion with the court, which the prosecutor seeks to have the defendant remanded to the county jail, pending disposition of their case. If the court is going to remand a defendant, the court must find by clear and convincing evidence that no form of pretrial release with conditions would assure that a defendant appears for trial or disposition, does not pose a threat to the public and does not obstruct the criminal justice process.

Clark & Noonan, LLC

The law firm of Clark & Noonan, LLC represents criminal defendants at all stages of the criminal process including during hearings brought under New Jersey’s bail reform act. Our attorneys are available on nights and weekends to speak to individuals about the pretrial bail procedures and represent individuals at their hearings.

If you have been arrested and/or charged with a criminal offense, please call our attorneys in Jersey City today at 732-333-3011 for a FREE initial consultation. Clark & Noonan, LLC serves clients throughout New Jersey including Jersey City, Freehold, Monmouth County and Hudson.

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