New Bail Laws in New Jersey
Over 40 U.S. states use a system that sets a cash bail amount for people charged with crimes. Supporters of these systems say that bail helps protect the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, by allowing people accused of crimes to return to their usual lives rather than languish in jail.
The right to bail has traditionally been considered so important that many states even make it a constitutional right. So how did New Jersey move away from a bail system?
Currently, cash bail is rarely set in New Jersey criminal cases. Instead, the state courts use a risk-assessment rubric to evaluate both the severity of the charges against the defendant and the risk that the defendant will attempt to run away instead of reappearing for a court date.
In New Jersey, the goal was to address some of the problems with requiring cash bail, while still ensuring that people charged with a crime would appear in court to hear the evidence against them and build a defense. These included the fact that many people charged with relatively minor or nonviolent offenses had to sit in jail if they could not afford bail—no matter how low the amount was.
While the federal government and the District of Columbia use a similar system, New Jersey is the first state to implement it. Since its inception in early February 2017, however, it has been the source of a great deal of controversy—and while some say it has leveled the playing field for criminal defendants, others say that the costs are simply too high.
If you’ve been charged with a crime in New Jersey, don’t hesitate to seek the assistance of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Your attorney can help you understand your legal rights and fight for the best possible outcome in your situation.