New Jersey Criminal Lawyer
When facing criminal charges in New Jersey individuals have the right to a bail hearing, allowing release from jail pending trial. Depending on the seriousness of the crime, the courts have many options available to ensure individuals charged with crimes show up for all future court proceedings related to the crime.
Serious criminal charges such as murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, or violation of a domestic restraining order, may not be granted an option to be released from jail. Instead, criminal defendants will be required to remain in jail until the end of the trial. Only a New Jersey superior court judge can set bail for these crimes. For less serious charges, several factors for setting bail will be considered to determine bail amount and provisions of the agreement. Bail for the less serious crimes can be set by a superior or municipal court judge, a municipal court administrator, or a deputy court administrator.
The judge or administrator deciding bail refers to the New Jersey Bail Schedule, and the New Jersey Bail Restriction laws. In addition, the judge is to consider the following factors relating to the defendant:
- Seriousness of the charge and the probability of conviction,
- Prior convictions or charges,
- Records regarding prior bail agreements,
- The defendant’s character and psychological health,
- Whether or not the defendant is a resident of the state, has relatives living in the area, and the nature of the relationship with these relatives,
- Employment history and current employment status,
- Financial health of the defendant,
- Whether or not character witnesses can vouch for the defendant’s reputation, and
- Overall risk that the defendant will fail to appear in court for future trial.
Once these factors have been considered, the judge has several options for setting bail, including:
- Releasing the defendant on his/her own recognizance, without a monetary bail amount.
- Property bail, which allows the defendant or relatives to put their home or other property up as refundable collateral for the bail amount (If the defendant does not appear as scheduled, the responsible party must produce the remaining 90% of the set bail).
- A 10% cash bond, which allows the defendant to put up a refundable amount of cash equal to 10% of the overall set bail.
- Bondable bail where a bail bondsmen can make a non-refundable loan to the defendant equal to 10% of the set bail (The bail bondsman will lose the entire amount of the bail, not just the 10% posted, if the defendant fails to appear in court as scheduled).
- Full cash bail, which requires the defendant to produce the full amount of set bail in cash.
It is important to remember that the set bail amount is used as security to ensure that the defendant will appear at all scheduled court dates and trials relating to the accused crime. Higher bail amounts and tighter stipulations are set for individuals the court regards as a significant risk for missing court appearances. Defendants that do not appear at court dates or trials may forfeit the return of the money or property posted as bail, and a warrant may be issued for their arrest.
In New Jersey, a defendant that cannot produce the necessary amount of set bail has the right to petition the court for a reduction in the amount of bail set, or to request that they be released on their own recognizance. Many times, defendants that cannot meet the bail requirements face loss of employment, have childcare issues, or have caregiver responsibilities. While it is easy to seek the help of a bail bondsman in these cases, an experienced and reputable criminal attorney may be able to get a bail reduction, or a release without bail. A New Jersey criminal lawyer is familiar with the court system will know which evidence to gather to ensure that bail is set as low as possible.