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STATE v. HENDRICKS — NEW JERSEY MURDER TRIAL — "NOT GUILTY" VERDICT

Mr. Tumelty represented Helena Hendricks, who was charged with first degree murder in Atlantic County Superior Court. The defendant faced a number of additional charges, including armed robbery, conspiracy and possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose. At the conclusion of a jury trial that lasted three weeks, the defendant was found "not guilty" of all charges.

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What is Bail & How Does it Work in New Jersey?

Different Options Available for Posting Bail

Jail can be a scary place. Naturally, people don’t want to be there. That’s where bail comes in. After a person is arrested, they can pay bail to the court (depending on the crime), which is the cash equivalent that acts as collateral to get released from custody until a later court date.

Bail is usually set by judges in severe criminal cases, including:

  • Assault
  • Casino crimes
  • Domestic violence
  • Drunk driving violations
  • Juvenile defense
  • Sex crimes
  • Weapons offenses
  • Traffic violations

How Does Bail Work?

Judges have a lot of freedom when arranging a bail amount. In New Jersey, they usually look to the New Jersey Bail Schedule, a state guideline for setting bail. However, they don’t have to follow the guidelines.

To determine bail, judges consider several factors described in the NJ criminal code, including:

  • The severity of the criminal offense. The more serious your charges, the higher your bail will likely be.
  • Flight risk. If the court thinks you’ll leave the area and not return for your day in court, your bail will be set high or you might not get bail at all.
  • Likelihood of conviction.
  • Prior criminal arrests and convictions. The judge can consider any previous criminal charges and conviction on your record
  • Your mental state.
  • Your ties to the community.
  • Your employment status (Proof of stable employment).
  • Your financial resources.

For many minor offenses, the court may waive the payment of bail by issuing a R.O.R., otherwise known as “release on one’s own recognizance.”

For fourth-degree felonies and disorderly persons offenses, bail is usually capped at $2,500 unless the defendant is a serious threat to others in the community, or poses a serious threat of destroying evidence.

However, for violent crimes like murder and sexual assault, a superior court judge may decide that bail is not an option.

Types of Bail

The following are the types of bail the judge could set in your case:

  • Full cash bail: You’ll be required to post the entire bail amount.
  • 10 percent bail option: You’d have the option to put up 10 percent of the total bail amount.
  • Property bail: You’d be able to put up your home or other property as collateral for bail.
  • Bail bonds: A bail bond is basically a check posted by a bond seller. Although it might seem like a good idea to pay a bail bondsman, hiring a lawyer is often a better choice because it’ll cost you less money.

What Can an Attorney Do for You at a Bail Hearing?

The goal of bail is to ensure that an accused person shows up for their scheduled court dates. For this reason, a judge cannot set bail excessively high.

If bail has already been set in your case and is too high, a knowledgeable lawyer may take quick action to get the bail reduced. Once a bail reduction motion has been filed, a hearing must be held within seven days.

An experienced attorney will have an opportunity at the bail reduction hearing to argue that you don’t pose a flight risk and that the initial bail amount should be reduced.

Get Your Free Consultation With Attorney John W. Tumelty

John Tumelty is a South Jersey criminal defense lawyer who knows the system and understands the criminal justice process. Mr. Tumelty also knows how to negotiate with the prosecutor in your case to get consent for a lower bail amount.

If you’ve been arrested for a criminal offense and need to make bail, contact Mr. Tumelty to schedule a free consultation. He will be happy to speak with you and answer any questions you might have.

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