Officials Say New Jersey Bail Reform Going Smoothly

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For the last five months, if you were arrested and charged in the state of New Jersey, it’s likely a cash bail wasn’t set. That’s because the state has nearly eliminated cash bail.

Officials told New Jersey 101.5 that the bail reform has been successful so far, but even though it’s been a smooth process within the last five months, there are some issues that could be changed.

Read more: Criminal Defense Attorney, East Brunswick NJ

“Now some of those imperfections may be addressed, starting with a possible expansion of the list of demerits in the checklist used to assess whether to recommend defendants be released without having to post bail or be detained until trial without the possibility of bail,” an article on the 101.5 website reads.

While bail does still exist in New Jersey, it’s only an option in a handful of cases following the bail reform that took effect on Jan. 1.

“About 1,100 people have been detained without bail, while the jail population has been reduced – as was the intention, to limit the number of people locked up while awaiting trial because they weren’t able to afford even nominal amounts of bail,” the article reads.

Officials have asked the courts to expand the list of offenses that weigh against releasing a defendant before his or her trial.

“Prosecutors are asking that the assessment put more weight on charges for gun possession and eluding police in a car, as well as repeat offenses allegedly committed while a person is free on pretrial release, probation or parole,” the article reads.

Officials said they feel that someone who is out on probation or parole who is still breaking the law should be treated differently and with stricter laws that will penalize their actions.

The main issue in regards to bail reform that officials are concerned about is money.

“Criminal-justice reforms prompted the state judiciary to establish a new Pretrial Services program, largely for assessing defendants for detention or release. Court fees were hiked to pay for it – but they already aren’t covering the cost, in part because court filings are down,” the article reads.

Bail reform is expected to cost the New Jersey courts nearly $37 million this year, but only $22 million from increased court fees are dedicated to the program.

“For now, the program can lean on a surplus built as the program was in development. By late 2018 or early 2019, the structural deficit will become an actual deficit,” the article reads.

The Senate budget will review potential changes at a hearing on Thursday.

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Commonwealth v. "H" (DUI case)

Client was charged with three separate DUI cases calling for mandatory minimum imprisonment of 90 days on each case. Client was advised to seek immediate intensive alcohol counseling. Client was sentenced to 1 year of house arrest after serving 3 days in the county prison.

CASE DISMISSED

Commonwealth v. "C" (Felony drug/Firearms case)

Client was charged with felony Delivery of drugs and illegal gun possession and was facing a mandatory 3-6 year prison sentence in the State prison system. Client was sentenced to one year of house arrest.

CASE DISMISSED

Commonwealth v. "S"

Client was charged with simple assault, domestic. After a hearing where evidence and testimony was presented, the entire case was dismissed by Judge Leonard Brown.

CASE DISMISSED

State of New Jersey v. "H"

Charges for young man charged with second degree aggravated assault were downgraded to third degree and he was accepted into the County Pretrial Intervention program with charges to be dismissed and record expunged after one year of misconduct free behavior.

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