When you are arrested for a crime in New Jersey, you are usually taken before a judge who will set bail. Bail is intended to be just high enough to ensure that you return to court or else forfeit the money you pay. For most nonviolent offenders in New Jersey, bail should not include a high dollar amount, yet many people accused of crimes face high bail that keeps them locked up.
If you or a loved one has had their bail set unreasonably high in New Jersey, call The Law Offices of John J. Zarych today. Our Atlantic City bail reduction lawyers can fight to get your bail reduced and get you released while you await trial. For a free consultation on your case, contact our law offices today at (609) 800-2942.
How is Bail Decided in New Jersey?
When a case is brought before a judge to determine bail, the judge has a few options for what bail to set. Bail is usually set in one of the following categories:
- Release on your own recognizance (ROR): When your bail is set as ROR, you are allowed to go free until trial, but you must check in with the bail agency and appear at all court dates.
- Cash bail: The court requires you to pay a certain amount in cash before they release you. If you fail to appear in court, you forfeit the money; if you are ultimately convicted, it will be applied toward your fines and court fees; and if charges are dropped or dismissed, the money is returned.
- Bail bond: The court asks for some percentage of a cash bail before you are released. If you fail to appear, the court asks you to pay the entire amount.
- Bail revocation: A judge can refuse to set bail and leave the defendant in jail, though this is rare in New Jersey.
In some cases, you may not be able to afford bail. Private bail bondsmen and bail agencies can provide cash bail in exchange for a percentage fee of the bail.
When a court determines how much bail to set, they look at four major factors:
- The defendant’s flight risk,
- The defendant’s ties to the community,
- The risk the defendant poses to the community if released, and
- The defendant’s resources.
If a defendant has a risk of “skipping bail” and failing to appear in court, the court may set a higher bail to help ensure the defendant comes back to court. If they have ties to the community, such as a job and family, they may have a low risk of fleeing, and bail could be unnecessary. Defendants charged with violent or repeat offenses may be too dangerous to release before trial. Lastly, the amount of money a defendant has puts the bail amount into perspective. For instance, someone with no resources may be unable to pay cash bail set at $100, but a wealthy defendant may need bail set over $100,000 before it becomes significant.
Since 2016, judges in New Jersey have been directed to avoid cash bail whenever possible. This means that most defendants for nonviolent crimes should be released on their own recognizance. If the defendant has a history of failing to appear or has already failed to appear in court on these charges, monetary bail may be set.
How to Modify Bail in New Jersey
If you are in jail awaiting trial, you may be eligible for bail modification. Your attorney can request bail be modified at your next court appearance, or your judge can file a request to have bail reduced, triggering a hearing for this purpose.
When holding a hearing on bail, a judge will look at the recommendations of the defendant, the prosecution, and the bail department. The judge will hear arguments regarding whether high bail is necessary, evidence of prior failures to appear, information about ties to the community, and more to help decide how bail should be set.
If your lawyer is successful in arguing for a bail reduction, you may be able to leave jail soon after. Once the bail is paid, the jail will be ordered to release you. You may need to return to jail to reclaim any of your property they kept when you were incarcerated.
After you are released from jail, you must follow any bail terms. This means checking in as required, appearing to any required hearings, avoiding other arrests, and following other bail terms. Failing to do so could mean having your bail revoked and being sent back to jail.
Atlantic City Bail Lawyer Offering Free Consultations
If you or a loved one is in jail without bail or has been ordered to pay high bail, talk to the Atlantic City bail defense lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych today. Our attorneys have decades of experience handling criminal cases and may be able to put that experience to work for you. For a free consultation on your bail reduction hearing, contact our law offices today at (609) 800-2942.