If you are accused of a crime in New Jersey, you need to know if you will have an opportunity to pay bail and await hearings and your trial at home or if you will need to stay in jail. Depending on the kind of offense you’re accused of committing, it’s possible that you could end up having no opportunity for bail, leaving you detained until your trial.
In 2017, a reform of the bail system in New Jersey resulted in the elimination of cash bail for the majority of offenses. There are revised directives that assume that prosecutors will seek out warrants and pretrial detention for crimes of certain types, such as:
- Assaults on the police
- The sexual exploitation of children
- Gun crimes
These and other types of violent offenses or offenses committed while on release could result in a person having to pay bail or getting no opportunity for bail at all.
What is the purpose of New Jersey’s changes in the bail procedures?
Other than certain categories of offenses, the goal is to keep people out of jail to reduce the population awaiting trial. Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said in May 2017 that the new system has been effective, making sure that detention was an option for recidivist offenders and violent offenders of certain kinds while avoiding the expense of housing nonviolent offenders pending trial.
The new changes replaced a cash-bail system with one that approaches bail by looking at risk. The courts assess who is likely to commit another crime, obstruct justice or flee. Once it’s determined if someone is nonviolent and likely to appear in court, it’s possible to release them without cash bail.
There are some presumptions in this system. For example, there is a presumption that pretrial detention will be sought for people accused of third- or fourth-degree offenses. There is also a presumption that the police and the prosecution will seek out a complaint-warrant when there is an FTA or NCA score of 3 or higher, which varies from the original requirement of 4 or higher.
The bail system can be confusing for some people. If you’re facing criminal charges, it’s worth learning more about your options and if you could walk free while awaiting your trial.