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New Jersey Bail Reform: Bail Bonds for Less Serious Crimes

The new bail system in the state of New Jersey takes effect January 1, 2017.  The old law, which was based on financial circumstances, required non-violent, less serious criminals to remain in jail while awaiting trial, oftentimes while violent offenders who had more money were able to post bond and go home. Under the new law, anyone can be jailed regardless of their guilt or innocence because the constitutional right to post bond has been eliminated.

In 2013, the Drug Policy Alliance released a study on the jail population in the state of New Jersey.  That study determined that the inmate population consisted of the following:

  • 71 percent Blacks and Latinos
  • 38 percent of the inmates were held based on an inability to post bail
  • 12 percent of the inmates had an inability to post $2,500 or less for bail
  • The average stay in jail pending a trial date was 10 months

Going forward, these statistics will change drastically as the State is allowed to jail anyone, regardless of their financial ability to post bond.

New Jersey Non-Violent Offenders

The New Jersey bail reform, drafted by the New Jersey office of the Drug Policy Alliance, claims to be a significant bail reform victory, providing standardized risk assessments in lieu of the financial-based system that jailed financially-disadvantaged citizens, causing them to lose their jobs and accumulate significant debt without even having their day in court. 

In reality, however, the new law allows the State to jail many more individuals without affording them the opportunity to post bond.  The law, which takes effect on January 1, 2017, allows the Judge to determine if a non-violent offender should be detained until the date of trial or released:

  • Based on their own recognizance
  • With non-financial conditions such as:
    • rehabilitation
    • employment
    • college attendance
    • refrain from interacting with criminals
    • other conditions the judge deems appropriate

Detention Hearings

In order for the State to seek retention for less serious crimes, they must be able to prove a case for pretrial incarceration.  Specifically, the State must demonstrate that there is clear and convincing evidence that the individual will either fail to appear in court, will commit additional crimes or will attempt to obstruct justice regardless of the release conditions that are imposed by the judge, which makes it critical to have an attorney as soon as a loved one is arrested.

That said, it is crucial to have one of HCK’s skilled bail attorneys by your side at the time of the detention hearing, which is supposed to be held within 48 hours after an individual is charged by complaint warrant.  This means that for those charged on Friday, the law makes it mandatory for the State to proceed over the weekend.

To assist with processing these cases in the time allotted, State Senate President Steve Sweeny announced new legislation allowing for the appointment of 20 additional judges, although the State’s lack of funding and resources raises concern if the required detention hearings will be conducted in a timely fashion.  Unfortunately, you may find a loved one jailed for days at a time waiting for their detention hearing without any opportunity to post bail and return home.

Contact a New Jersey Bail Bond Lawyer With Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. as Soon as Possible

Before 2017, an individual charged with a less serious crime who had enough financial means could post a bond and be released from jail in order to continue working and prepare for trial.  Under the new system, however, an individual’s financial status is inapplicable, which makes it possible for any defendant to be detained and makes it critical to have an experienced bail bond lawyer by your side as soon as possible for representation during the detention hearing and throughout the pendency of the case.

Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A is prepared to review your file, prepare for hearing and appear with you in court to make certain that you are released with as few conditions as possible. Contact us right away.

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