New Jersey Right to Bail
Release from Pre-Trial Detention
A key part of the initial responsibilities of a criminal defense attorney is getting the client released from pre-trial detention. Being detained pending the outcome of your case can cause a defendant to lose their job, and their family to suffer severe financial hardship. If you have a family member detained in jail, give my office a call to discuss how we can get them out on bail.
Constitutional Right to Bail
New Jersey criminal defendants have a constitutional right to bail. The purpose of bail is not to punish the defendant. Rather, it is simply to guarantee the defendant’s appearance at future court hearings. After the initial bail is set, any persons unable to post bail must have their bail reviewed by a Superior Court Judge. This must no later than the next day, unless that day is a Saturday, Sunday, or a legal holiday.
A Superior Court Judge may set bail in New Jersey for any offense. A Municipal Court Judge may also set bail for any offense except murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, manslaughter, and some other serious offenses. A bond can normally be used to secure release. But in some cases the judge may order bail to be cash only. However, judges can also allow the “ten-percent” option. This means that only ten percent of the set bail need to be posted. This money may be returned at the conclusion of the case so long as the defendant appears at each court appearance.
Right to bail means accused has right to pretrial liberty on such bond in such amount as in judgment of trial court under circumstances of case will insure accused’s appearance at trial. But if court is satisfied from evidence presented on application for bail that regardless of bail fixed, accused if released will probably flee to avoid trial, bail may be denied. U.S. Const. amend. 8.
Factors which must be considered in fixing amount of bail bonds in New Jersey are:
1) seriousness of crime charged against defendant
2) apparent likelihood of conviction and extent of punishment prescribed
3) defendant’s criminal record and previous record on bail
4)his reputation and mental condition
5) length of his residence in community
6)his family ties and relationships
7) his employment status
8) record of employment and his financial condition
9) identity of responsible members of community who would vouch for defendant’s reliability
10) any other factors indicating defendant’s mode of life or ties to community or bearing on risk of failure to appear.
State v. Johnson, 61 N.J. 351, 294 A.2d 245 (N.J. 1972).
Amount of bail should not be excessive. Although controlling test is not defendant’s financial capacity. Indigency of accused must be considered in determining amount of bail. However it cannot of itself outweigh nature of crime. Excessive bail requirement must not be utilized as a means of confining accused until trial.
Fairness in bail practices involves not only the initial setting of bail amounts and conditions. It also includes the continuing and careful review of the bail set on defendants who are unable to make bail. Such subsequent reviews normally involve much more information than was available to the judge or judicial officer who initially set the bail.
Criminal Presiding Judges and Municipal Presiding Judges must ensure that all defendants held on bail receive their first appearance within 72 hours. This is pursuant to R. 3:4-2 and R. 7:3-1. Further, Criminal Presiding Judges and Municipal Presiding Judges must ensure that procedures are in place to periodically review bail amounts of all incarcerated defendants. This applies if they are charged with matters cognizable in the municipal courts or held on post-adjudication warrants to make sure that they are not held for unreasonable periods of time.
Contact Our Right to Bail Attorneys in NJ
Anthony Vecchio is experienced in handling criminal cases in New Jersey. He has worked as both a prosectuor and a defender and knows criminal law. Contact a New Jersey bail lawyer today to defend your case.