On January 1, 2017, a sweeping change will come to all New Jersey courts, as the bail reform act supported by a New Jersey Constitutional amendment. The new bail reform act was enacted in an effort to help those of lower socio-economic standing avoid being held in jail while they wait for trial merely because they could not afford to make bail payments. This system also works to hold those who may have the capital funds to secure bail for themselves to be held in instances of violent crimes, whereas previously they could make bail payments in any amount.
The Different Release Options under the New System
Any person who is detained following a complaint warrant will be temporarily detained to allow the Pretrial Services Program to prepare a risk assessment. This risk assessment tool is designed to identify any safety or flight risks that a person being held may pose. Ultimately, the goal of the assessment is to determine if the accused will appear for future court appearances. After the Pretrial Services Program has completed their study, they will make a recommendation to the court which shall contain recommendations for the court as to conditions for the accused person’s release. Under the Bail Reform Act, the following options will now be available to all those accused of a crime:
• Released on personal recognizance or on unsecured appearance bond – A release on your own personal recognizance is a written promise signed by the defendant promising that they will show up for future court appearances and not engage in illegal activity while they are on their own recognizance. An unsecured appearance bond is a type of bail in which the accused will make a written promise to appear in court. An unsecured appearance bond is different from being released on your own recognizance in that the bond will also contain the accused unsecured promise to pay a specified sum of money if they fail to appear as required. This means that at the time the accused person is released without posting any cash or collateral at the time they were released. Under Title 18 U.S.C § 3142(a) a Judicial officer shall order the release of the defendant on personal recognizance, or upon execution of an unsecured appearance bond subject to condition that person does not commit a federal, state, or local crime AND subject to condition of cooperation with DNA collection.
• Released with a condition of conditions attached – If a judicial officer finds that with the condition or conditions will reasonably assure that the accused will appear in court and that they do not pose a risk of safety of any other person finds that the person is a flight risk or poses a danger to the community.
• Released on monetary bail – An accused may be released on monetary bail, other than an unsecured appearance bond to reasonably assure the eligible defendant’s appearance in court. The court is not authorized to impose monetary bail to reasonably assure the protection of the safety of any other person or the community or that the eligible defendant will not obstruct or attempt to obstruct the criminal justice process. In addition, the court may use a combination of monetary conditions and non-monetary conditions to reasonably assure a defendant’s appearance in court.
• Detained in jail, upon motion of the prosecutor – A prosecutor may file a motion with the court at any time seeking the pretrial detention of a defendant.
Anyone who has been arrested should be aware that they have the right to counsel during a bail hearing. It can be very beneficial to secure an Atlantic City criminal defense attorney for these hearings as they may argue for your bail to be reduced and or altered so that you can be released in an expeditious manner.
What are Non-Monetary Conditions?
If the court decides that a defendant will be released with non-monetary conditions, the court is free to impose a variety of conditions to secure the defendant will appear in court. However, it should be noted that these conditions should be the least restrictive conditions possible, meaning that the court should avoid imposing unduly burdensome conditions and should not impose more conditions than are necessary to secure a defendant’s subsequent appearance in court.
• That the accused remain in custody of a designated person, who agrees to assume supervision and to report any violation of a release condition to the court
• That the person will maintain employment, or if they are unemployed that they will actively seek employment.
• That the person will maintain or commence an educational program
• That they will report on a regular basis to a designated law enforcement agency
• That they will comply with a specified curfew
• That they will refrain from possessing a firearm, destructive device, or other dangerous weapon
• Refrain from the excessive use of alcohol, or any use of a narcotic drug
• Undergo available medical, psychological, or psychiatric treatment
• Return to custody for specified hours following release for employment, schooling, or other limited purposes
• Be placed in a pretrial home supervision capacity either with or without the use of an approved electronic monitoring device.
• Satisfy any other condition that is necessary to reasonably assure the eligible defendant’s appearance in court when required.
These non-monetary conditions are seen as a way to secure an accused’s future appearance in court, while not imposing monetary sanctions that could potentially leave a person behind bars.
When can a Prosecutor make a Motion for Pretrial Detention?
While the bail reform act is largely designed to keep people out of prison while they wait for trial, there are instances where the prosecutor may file a motion to have an accused person remain incarcerated. The prosecutor may file a motion with the court at any time to have an accused party held in detention for:
• For any crime of the first or second degree listed NJ Rev Stat § 2C:43-7.2 (2013) Section 2 subsection d of:
o Aggravated manslaughter or manslaughter
o Vehicular homicide
o Aggravated assault subsection b
o Disarming a law enforcement officer subsection b
o Aggravated sexual assault subsection a
o Aggravated arson
o Strict liability for drug-induced deaths
o Producing or possessing chemical weapons, biological agents or nuclear or radiological devices
o Racketeering, when it is a crime of the first degree
• Any crime or offense involving domestic violence
• Any other crime for which the prosecutor believes there is a serious risk that the eligible defendant will not appear in court as required; that the eligible person will pose a danger to any other person or the community; that the eligible defendant will obstruct or attempt to obstruct justice, or threaten, injure, or intimidate, or attempt to threaten, injure or intimidate a prospective witness or juror.
• Where the accused has committed any crime for which the eligible defendant would be subject to an ordinary or extended term of life imprisonment.
In the event that the prosecutor should file a motion for pretrial detention, the court will hold a pretrial detention hearing. It is important to know that anyone who has received a notice that the prosecutor intends to move for them to be held in prison until the time of their trial has the right to be represented by counsel. The court will hold During this pretrial detention hearing, an accused party is allowed to testify, present witnesses, to cross-examine witnesses who appear at the hearing, and to present information on their behalf.
Call an Atlantic City Criminal Defense Lawyer Today
The Margate municipal court lawyers of the Law Firm of John J. Zarych have experienced practitioners with years of practice experience. Firm founder John J. Zarych has more than 40 years of experience practicing as a criminal defense attorney. The experienced, strategic, and aggressive criminal defense lawyers of the Law Firm of John J. Zarych fight to protect you from the consequences of any arrest charges and other serious crimes. To schedule a no-cost initial case evaluation call our firm at (609) 616-4956 or contact us online today.