New Jersey has a new bail reform law that some state officials are describing as “historic” because it grants more flexibility to prosecutors when they determine what bail amounts to seek.
In recent years, the NJ criminal justice system has come under intense scrutiny as more and more reports circulate about individuals accused of nonviolent crimes being incarcerated for many months as they await resolution of their cases. The problem for these individuals is that they simply cannot afford to pay their bail amounts, so they remain behind bars until prosecutors eventually get around to their cases.
The new bail reform law in New Jersey places an emphasis on speedy trials, which theoretically makes it less likely that incarcerated suspects will have to stay behind bars for long periods of time – even when they are innocent of the charges against them. The problem, of course, is that the U.S. Constitution already guarantees the right to a speedy trial, so what difference will the NJ mandate really make? Moreover, the New Jersey criminal justice system has been slowed down for years by a court clog. Simply declaring that all criminal defendants should be given a speedy trial does not actually alter the institutional issues that plague the criminal court system in NJ.
Another major change to the old bail system is that cash bail will now be eliminated in most cases. In the past, bail amounts for certain suspects often included an option for the suspect to secure their release from police custody by paying just 10 percent of the bail in cash. That will no longer be an option in most cases for suspects arrested in New Jersey. However, this could pose problems for poor defendants who cannot afford to cover the entire bail amount.
The new bail reform law also makes it more difficult for suspects to post bail, in some cases, by empowering prosecutors and police to hold potentially dangerous criminals without bail.
NJ Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino praised the New Jersey bail reform law for “eliminating a monetary bail system that allowed dangerous criminals to pay their way out of jail, often with proceeds of their crimes, while others charged with nonviolent offenses languished in jail because they were poor.” Porrino addressed some of the concerns being raised about the new law by stating that the NJ Attorney General’s Office is provide “detailed guidance to prosecutors and police” in order to ensure that authorities properly use the state’s new risk-based system when determining bail amounts.
For further information, see the Hackensack Daily Voice article, “‘Historic’ NJ Law Allows No Bail in Certain Criminal Cases.”
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime in New Jersey, it is absolutely imperative that you have a qualified criminal defense lawyer on your side. The experienced Atlantic County criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty will help you fight your criminal charges. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation.