Before January 1, 2017, a person charged with a petty disorderly persons offense, disorderly persons offense, or an indictable charge could expect to receive a complaint on a summons (which required no cash bail) or be processed on a warrant for which monetary bail was required. After January 1, 2017, in almost all cases, monetary bail is no longer required. For most minor cases, an individual will receive a complaint summons for which no bail is required. In more serious cases, an individual will be placed under arrest and held in detention for up to 48 hours in the county jail. During that 48 hr period, pre-trial services will provide the Court with a preliminary safety assessment or risk assessment which will score the individual’s danger to the community and likelihood of flight on a score of one to six. The lower the score, the more likely that the individual will be released. Regardless of a person’s score on the preliminary safety assessment, the prosecutor may move to detain that person without bail pending trial. The Court will schedule a hearing to determine whether or not to release the defendant within three days of when the prosecutor filed the motion. At the hearing the Court will consider whether or not any number of conditions including frequent reporting to pre-trial services or house arrest will justify releasing a person on bail. For the majority of cases the prosecutor has the burden of proving that no set of conditions will reasonably assure the defendant’s appearance in court and protect the community in order to persuade the Court not to release the defendant. In some more serious cases like murder, the defendant will have the burden of overcoming the presumption in favor of incarceration.
The down side to the changes in the criminal justice system is that many people who would never have been incarcerated in the past may find themselves in jail for up to 48 hrs. before the conditions of their release are determined. The positive side to bail reform is that monetary bail which discriminated against the poor has largely been abolished. Monetary bail may still be set on bench warrants and in cases where the Court as a condition of bail entertains a monetary commitment from the defendant to assure his or her appearance in Court.
At Agre & St. John, we welcome all inquiries relating to the changes in the criminal justice system. We specialize in the defense of all criminal cases in both state and federal courts.
The South Jersey criminal lawyers at the Law Offices of Agre & St. John can help if you or someone you love has been charged with a crime in South Jersey. To learn more about the services we provide, call our Haddonfield, New Jersey offices at 856-428-7797 or contact us online.