Bail reform in New Jersey became effective on January 1, 2017, and it really changed the landscape of what happens in a criminal case. Defendants must be indicted by a grand jury within 90 days, and limits are set on the amount of time they can spend in custody awaiting a plea or trial.
After a defendant is arrested and the crime s/he allegedly committed fits into the new statute, the prosecutor can make a motion for a detention hearing of an eligible defendant charged for any crime or offense:
- of the first or second degree enumerated under subsection d. of section 2 of N.J.S.A. 2c:43-7.2
- that subjects the eligible defendant to an ordinary or extended term of life imprisonment;
- if the eligible defendant’s criminal history reflects convictions for two or more offenses for either of the above categories;
- enumerated under paragraph (2) of subsection b. of section 2 of N.J.S.A. 2c:7-2 or crime involving human trafficking pursuant to section 1 of N.J.S.A. 2c:13-8 or N.J.S.A. 52:17B-237 et al. when the victim is a minor or the crime of endangering the welfare of a child under N.J.S.A. 2c:24-4;
- enumerated under subsection c. of N.J.S.A. 2c:43-6;
- involving domestic violence as defined in subsection a. of section 3 of N.J.S.A. 2c:25-19; or
- any other crime for which the prosecutor believes there is a serious risk that:
- the eligible defendant will not appear in court as required;
- the eligible defendant will pose a danger to any other person or the community; or
- 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.
Under the old law, a defendant is released or detained based on their ability to post bail. Under the new law, there is no bail. The New Jersey court looks at whether or not the defendant will appear in court, the community is safe, and whether the defendant will obstruct the criminal justice process. The decision to release or incarcerate the defendant must be made within 48 hours of arrest.
Further, under the new law, the majority of defendants are supposed to be released on their own recognizance (or “ROR’d”).
The court can order detention only when it finds by clear and convincing evidence that no conditions of release can satisfy the three risks noted above.
Long gone are the days of a cash or bond bail. Now defendants are just held. It does not matter if they are the richest man or woman alive, if the judge decides to hold them based on the factors above, they can’t pay to get out. This is why you need a lawyer by your side at a detention hearing.
The only way to get out of custody is if the defendant’s case is finished, the time ran and the prosecutor didn’t file any motions to extend, or the detention hearing is reopened. To reopen a case, new information may have come to light not known to the prosecutor or the defendant at the time of the hearing. It isn’t just new information about anything, but it has to be new information about the 3 factors listed above.
If the court orders a defendant to be detained, the clock starts and it is expected that the defendant will be tried within 180 days.
It is important to note that motions can be made by the prosecutor to extend the amount of time a defendant is in custody. Also, if a defense attorney requests an adjournment or needs more time to do discovery, the time tolls on the 180 days. This means a defendant can actually sit in custody for longer than 180 days.
It has only been a little over a year since the new statute took effect. Only time will tell about the actual implications of the new law.
Roy Breslow and Casey Breslow know how to protect their clients. They can provide consultations about detention hearings and beyond. It is important that you have the right lawyer by your side from the beginning of the case. We can help you get results by giving us a call 973-239-8000 or by filling out a contact form for a free consultation.