Burlington County, NJ Law Blog

Monday, June 30, 2014

Push for New Jersey Bail Reform

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is pushing for bail reform in the wake of a shooting that took place at a funeral. In April, gunfire erupted during a Trenton funeral honoring a 19-year-old man. One of three men suspected in the shooting was out on bail at the time. It has since been discovered that this suspect committed three serious crimes within the month prior to the shooting.

Governor Christie is putting pressure on New Jersey legislators to propose bail reform legislation. Christie wants judges to be able to take the past criminal history of each offender into account when deciding whether to grant bail. With the legislature’s summer break right around the corner, the Governor has urged law makers to act as soon as possible, saying he would sign it into law immediately.

What effect would this type of bail reform have on criminal defendants? For one thing, it would make the bail process longer and more complex. Under the proposed legislation, judges would have the ability to review the history of each criminal defendant when deciding on bail, which could turn the review of relatively minor offense into a drawn out review of one’s criminal record. Defendants with past criminal histories would be less likely to be granted bail or would be granted bail in amounts they cannot afford. This means that more defendants would be incarcerated awaiting a plea deal or a trial, further stressing the New Jersey prison system. It would also mean that many defendants who are wrongly accused would be forced to give up their freedom for long periods of time.

The full impact that the proposed bail reform would have on criminal defendants is still largely unknown. What is clear is that if a bill of this nature is passed, it would be even more critical to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you immediately following your arrest. If you or someone you know has been accused of a crime in the State of New Jersey call Sitzler & Sitzler at (609)267-1101 for a consultation today.

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