Effective January 1, 2017, New Jersey will undergo a radical change in it’s laws concerning bail. Known as the Bail Reform Act, NJSA 2A:162-15 thru 26, now requires that a person charges with an indictable (felony) offense shall be detained in the county jail for up to 48 hours to await a Bail Hearing. At the Detention Hearing, a person is entitled to legal counsel. The attorneys at Kahn, Gigliotti & Lehrfeld recognize the importance of being available 24/7 for Detention Hearings on indictable (felony) offenses. Under the New Jersey Constitution, all persons shall be eligible for pre-trial release on bail, unless, at a Detention Hearing, the court finds that no amount of monetary bail, non-monetary conditions of pre-trial release, or combination of monetary bail and non-monetary conditions would reasonably assure the person’s appearance in court when required, or protect the safety of any other person or the community, or prevent the person from obstructing or attempting to obstruct the criminal justice process.
On all indictable (felony) offenses, a defendant will be taken to the county jail immediately upon the issuance of the complaint and will remain detailed until such time as a Detention Hearing is scheduled, usually within 48 hours of commitment to jail. Prior to the Detention Hearing, the court will prepare a Public Safety Assessment (PSA) which is used to measure risk. The PSA considers such factors as whether or not the present offense is a violent offense, any prior convictions of the defendant, defendant’s present age and whether or not the defendant has previously failed to appear for court proceedings.
At the Detention Hearing, the judge will consider the PSA and, of course, the arguments of counsel, and make a determination as to defendant’s release. First, the judge could decide that defendant be Released on Own Recognizance (ROR). A defendant normally will be released ROR if each of the following four conditions are met:
Secondly, if it is determined that ROR alone is not appropriate, the judge could order Release with Conditions. This would be triggered when ROR alone will not reasonably ensure defendant’s appearance at court proceedings; or ROR alone will endanger the safety of any other person or the community; or ROR alone will not prevent the person from obstructing or attempting to obstruct the criminal justice process. Under any of these circumstances, the Court may impose conditions on a person’s release such as the person not commit any crime during the period of release and avoid all contact with an alleged victim and/or potential witnesses who may testify at trial.
Thirdly, a judge could order Release on Bail. Bail can be required when any one of the following factors is present:
Under one of these facts, the court may set bail for the offense charged in accordance with statutory bail guidelines.
Lastly, the judge could deny release on bail and/or conditions and order that a person be detained until trial. In such cases a person is entitled to a Detention Hearing within 72 hours at which hearing the burden of production is on the state to prove by “clear and convincing”, a standard less than the trial standard of proof “beyond a reasonable doubt”, that: