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Understanding New Jersey’s bail laws

On Behalf of | Apr 1, 2024 | Criminal Justice |

You have probably heard the term bail reform in recent years and may wonder exactly what it means or how it could affect you if you are arrested.

Bail reform in New Jersey has changed the path of a criminal case. The law went into effect in 2017 and set limits on the time that criminal defendants can spend in custody waiting for a plea or trial or the time in which they must be indicted by a grand jury.

If you are arrested for certain crimes, the prosecutor can make a motion for a detention hearing. However, under the old law, you would be released only if you could post bail.

Factors considered at a detention hearing

The new law sets no bail. Instead, the court examines various factors to determine if you should be set free or detained while your criminal charges are pending. The factors include:

  • The likelihood that you will appear in court
  • The likelihood that you will obstruct the criminal justice process
  • The safety of the community

The decision whether to release or detain you must be made within 48 hours of your arrest. You can only be detained if the court finds clear and convincing evidence of one of the factors named above.Bail reform has been a contentious topic. While bail reform prevents criminal defendants from sitting in jail simply because they do not have enough money to post bail, some argue that if a court makes the wrong decision based on the factors, potentially dangerous people could be released.

How the new bail laws could hurt you

If you are arrested, the bail reform law could work against you if the court concludes that there is evidence of one of the factors. You could find yourself being detained due to a court’s decision.

You will generally not get released until your case is finished or you get a chance for another detention hearing. With your freedom in the hands of the court, it is important to have someone fighting for you through the process.


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