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New Jersey’s New Bail Reform Law and What It Means for You

Starting on January 1, 2017, a new bail reform law will take effect throughout the State of New Jersey.  The amended section of Article I, Paragraph 11 of the New Jersey Constitution, will now read as follows:

“No person shall, after acquittal, be tried for the same offense. All persons shall, before conviction, be eligible for pretrial release. Pretrial release may be denied to a person if the court finds that no amount of monetary bail, non-monetary conditions of pretrial 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. It shall be lawful for the Legislature to establish by law procedures, terms, and conditions applicable to pretrial release and the denial thereof authorized under this provision.”

There are certain “pilot” counties where officials have already begun to roll out the new bail reform program, beginning May of this past year. Those counties include Sussex, Morris, Passaic, and Camden counties.

Under the current law, all persons charged are entitled to monetary bail, regardless of their criminal history or the threat they may pose to society.  The main change under the new bail reform law is that individuals charged with certain, more serious crimes are allowed to be held without bail. At the same time, people charged with less serious crimes are more likely to be sent home after being arrested and processed, and then allowed to remain home and not be housed in jail pending resolution of their case.  Some additional aspects of Bail Reform that will affect those charged with criminal offenses include the following:

  • A defendant can be held without bail if they pose a risk to the community – this will be determined by a risk assessment protocol that is being created.
  • You are entitled to have a “risk assessment” hearing within forty-eight (48) hours of being arrested on a warrant – this means that if a defendant is arrested on a Friday, the hearing must be held no later than Sunday.
  • You are entitled to a detention review hearing that must be held within five (5) days of being arrested if you are put in the jail after the risk assessment hearing.
  • An eligible defendant cannot remain in jail for more than ninety (90) days between the date he or she is admitted to jail and the time he or she is indicted.*
  • An eligible defendant cannot remain in jail for more than one hundred-eighty (180) days after he or she is indicted.*
  • An eligible defendant shall be released from jail no more than two (2) years from the date the court orders the defendant detained pre-trial.*
  • If the prosecutor’s office fails to meet any these new deadlines, then the Court can order that your case be dismissed.
  • *The law does allow for 13 categories of excludable time that does not count toward the day total.

With regard to the new timelines for a speedy trial, the timeline will apply to any defendant for whom a complaint warrant was issued and the person’s arrest occurs on or after, January 1, 2017, regardless of when the actual crime occurred. The new speedy trial timeline will NOT apply to persons for whom a complaint summons was issued or whose complaint warrant was issued BEFORE January 1, 2017.

New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer Tom Chaves Protects Defendants’ Rights

If you are arrested or charged with a crime in New Jersey, you are entitled to certain rights under State and Federal laws. Experienced New Jersey Criminal lawyer Tom Chaves will help you fight for those rights and always strives to have your charges dismissed completely. If the charges against you cannot be dismissed, we will fight to have them downgraded. An experienced criminal attorney can significantly improve your chances of avoiding a conviction. For a free consultation, call us at 908-256-3039 or contact us online today. We represent individuals with criminal charges in Somerset County, Hunterdon County, Middlesex County and Union County.

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