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New Jersey Bail Reform: Bail Bonds for Serious Criminal Charges

In 2014, the New Jersey Senate passed Senate Bill 946 by a margin of 29-5. The summary states that the Bill:

Implements constitutional amendment providing for pretrial detention of certain criminal defendants; establishes non-monetary bail alternatives for release; authorizes Judiciary to revise fees for certain legal programs and services.”

The General Assembly also passed Bill 1910 by a 53-9 margin, which gave New Jersey voters the opportunity to amend the state’s constitution in the general election, thereby eliminating the right to bail and allowing significant bail reform to take effect January 1, 2017. Government officials claim that these sweeping reforms will reduce the prison population statewide thereby reducing taxpayer costs, but it remains to be seen if any such reduction will be offset by the costs needed for additional judges and court personnel to process weekend pre-trial detention hearings. 

There are also concerns that the State’s lack of funding will mean that detention hearings, which are required to take place in 48 hours after arrest, will not occur for several days while your loved one remains incarcerated and individuals will now be detained for months or even years waiting for a trial date, thereby increasing the jail population.

First Court Appearances for Serious Criminal Charges

In the past, an individual charged with a serious crime was offered the opportunity to post bail, thus providing them with a path to get out of jail and return home until the date of the trial. This focus on finances allowed some individuals to carry on with their lives while other poor New Jersey residents languished in jail for an average of 10 months before they finally received their day in court.  At that point, even if an individual was found not guilty, he or she had likely lost their job and suffered dire financial consequences resulting from the lengthy time in prison.  As of January 1st, the law allows any resident to remain jailed.

Starting in January, the new law makes the first court appearance critical for those charged with committing serious crimes.  A defendant’s first court appearance, which is mandated by law to take place within 48 hours after the judge approves a complaint warrant, will involve the court’s consideration of the following:

  • Community: The judge must determine whether or not the defendant poses a possible danger to the community at large.
  • Obstruction: If the court decides that the defendant will attempt to obstruct justice by harassing, intimidating, or harming a witness, juror or victim, they will be detained pending their trial date.
  • Flight: The judge will also be required to examine if the defendant is a likely flight risk prior to trial.

For those individuals with any prior record, even for non-serious crimes, it appears more likely that they will be detained until trial, which may not occur for up to two years after arrest.  If you are charged with a crime, it is imperative that you have a bail lawyer from Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. appear with you at the first court hearing in order to review the state’s documents, cross examine the state’s witnesses and assure that you are released from jail pending trial without restrictive conditions put in place, such as:

  • Required attendance at college or trade school
  • Inability to associate with known criminals
  • Inpatient rehabilitation for drugs or alcohol abuse
  • Outpatient rehabilitation for drugs or alcohol abuse
  • Electronic monitoring bracelet
  • Other conditions deemed appropriate by the judge

Our New Jersey Bail Attorneys Are Here For You – Contact HCK, P.A. Today

If you are charged with a serious crime and are facing the possibility of detention until the time of trial, the experienced NJ bail bond lawyers at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. are ready to help you today and will work tirelessly for your release.  Let our team of skilled lawyers defend you and protect your rights. Contact us for help.

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Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A.

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