Long Awaited Bail Reform Takes Effect Soon in New Jersey

 For years, proponents of bail reform in the State of New Jersey have been trying to get a law passed that will significantly change the current state system. Well, much to their delight, and to the benefit of future defendants, that law has finally been signed and is going to take effect in January of 2107.

When considering bail reform, one must think about what purposes bail actually serves.  According to the United States Constitution a defendant is innocent until proven guilty, and therefore, defendants are often times released from custody pending the outcome of their case. Bail is usually returned to the payer after the case concludes. Bail is not supposed to be used as punishment, but is supposed to serve as an initiative for a defendant to show up for and participate in the pre-trial and trial processes. Bail is determined based on a number of factors including the seriousness of the crime charged. Generally the system is resource-based, meaning the more serious the crime the higher the bail.

One major reason for the push for bail reform is the widely held belief that the current money bail system “disproportionately affects the poor.” Reformers want to change the system to take into account a variety of old and new factors that determine the individual defendants flight risk and danger to the community. Some factors include the seriousness of the crime and danger to the community. According to the State Attorney General, prosecutors are also going to be trained to consider common sense factors. Each defendant will be assigned a score, which will help the judge to determine what his or her bail should be set at.  Many hope this will transform the system from resource-based to risk-based. Although it will be expensive, many in New Jersey believe it is well worth the cost.

If you have been charged with a crime and are awaiting a bail hearing, now is the perfect time to contact a skilled criminal defense attorney to handle your case.