Pretrial Detention Hearings And Bail Reform In New Jersey

Being charged with a crime can be overwhelming. Being held without bail can be terrifying. Spending time in jail awaiting your pretrial detention hearing can give you plenty of time to think about the effects a possible jail sentence would have on your future. Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney to advocate on your behalf will give you the best chance of navigating a criminal charge without jail time. With over 30 years of experience, I am here to help. I founded The Law Office of Jill R. Cohen with a vision to help those in Camden County and throughout New Jersey wrongly accused of a crime and to defend my clients’ liberty rights.

Criminal Justice Reform And The Effect Of The New Jersey Bail Reform Act

Previously, in New Jersey, bail was set automatically based on the crime that was charged. A defendant could work with a bail bondsman immediately to post bail at the time of booking. Unfortunately for those who could not afford to post bail, there was a chance they could stay incarcerated until their trial date. In addition, there was no way to assess a defendant’s flight risk or their likelihood of showing up to a trial.  The new system is founded on conditional release. It provides factors that assess the accused’s potential flight risk and evaluate their risk to public safety if released. It eliminates financial disparity and the advantage that wealthy defendants had in the old bail structure.

What Happens When A Defendant Is Arrested In New Jersey?

In New Jersey, when a warrant is issued for an arrest, and that defendant is arrested, they can be detained at the county jail and held without bail until their pretrial detention hearing.  At the defendant’s first appearance, which must be conducted within 48 hours of the defendant’s arrest, the prosecutor must make a motion to detain the defendant. If such a motion is made, a pretrial detention hearing will be scheduled within 3-5 days.

What Happens During A Pretrial Detention Hearing?

Prior to the pretrial detention hearing, pretrial services will prepare a Public Safety Assessment (PSA). The PSA will evaluate specific factors to make a recommendation to the judge. These factors include:

  • The defendant’s prior criminal record and previous criminal history
  • The severity of the charges filed against the accused
  • The likelihood that the defendant will commit another crime in the community if released
  • The likelihood that the defendant’s release will impede the process of criminal justice

The judge will also consider factors to determine whether or not the defendant is a flight risk, including:

  • The length of the possible sentence the criminal defendant is facing
  • The strength of the evidence against and the likelihood of conviction
  • A defendant’s past history of showing up for scheduled court appearances

An experienced criminal defense attorney will know how to argue that a defendant should be released. If the defendant has been accused of a driving under the influence crime like a DWI or DUI, and if the accused doesn’t have a previous criminal record and has ties to the community like a job and a family, a defense attorney can argue that there is a presumption that the defendant be released.

Awaiting A Detention Hearing? Don’t Wait. Call Now.

If you or someone you love has been accused of a crime and is facing a detention hearing, don’t wait. Time is of the essence. The faster a criminal defense attorney can review the facts of the case and assess the situation, the better chance that an argument for conditional release is successful. Call 856-754-5501 today or send an email through the online form to schedule your free, initial consultation.