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New Jersey Criminal Justice Reform for 2017 Affects Bail Reform and Speedy Trial

November 28, 2016 |

On January 1, 2017, New Jersey is implementing Criminal Justice Reform that is a result of us voting to amend the New Jersey Constitution in 2014. Criminal Justice reform will change two major areas of how a criminal case is processed through the system. Those two areas are Bail Reform and Speedy Trial. The new changes will further the notion that those accused of crimes are presumed innocent until proven guilty and that those accused of crimes have a constitutional right to a speedy trial.

Currently, New Jersey has a bail system that relies on a Judge setting a monetary bail when a warrant is issued. If a person does not have the money and can’t post or pay the bail they remain in the county jail until their case is completed.  Bail Reform will change that in that the new system that will be put in place will rely on a risk assessment. Under the new system, a Judge will assess each person charged on a warrant to see whether the person charged is a danger to the community or a risk of flight. Each person will be judged as a low, moderate, or high risk, based on a person’s age, pending charges, prior record, prior failure to appears and prior jail sentences. Depending on the risk level are your chances of being released without having to post any money or with conditions. Monetary bail may also be set only when it is determined that no other conditions of release will reasonably assure an appearance in court by the person charged. For the first time, people will also be able to be held without bail in very serious cases.

Every person who gets arrested on a Warrant will have to go to the County Jail for up to 48 hours when the Judge makes a pretrial release decision at a first appearance. Unless a prosecutor moves for detention at this point, the court must make a decision at this first hearing. If the prosecutor objects to release, a probable cause hearing must be had within three working days.  At this hearing, your attorney has the right to call and cross examine witnesses.

The second part of Criminal Justice Reform is Speedy Trial.  Speedy Trail will only apply to those who are placed into custody after January 1, 2017. If you are in custody beforehand or if you are released from jail then speedy trial does not apply to you. Speedy trial has three components.  First, the Prosecutor must present your case to a Grand Jury for an indictment with in 90 days.  IF they fail to do that, you can be released from jail.   Second, after indictment, the Prosecutor and Court must begin the trial on your case or you may be released from jail. Third, there is an overall time limit of two years in which the case must be heard after a court issues a detention order or you may be released.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal offense, do not hesitate to call us now at 856-424-1808.