Traditionally, after an arrest, an individual would expect the right to a phone call and await news on whether they could be released on bail and how much bail would be. However, while the idea of bail is to secure an individual’s future presence in court, it can have the unintended consequence of favoring those of economic means, while keeping economically disadvantaged individuals detained. New Jersey lawmakers responded to this issue with what is known as “Bail Reform.” In 2017, New Jersey’s new bail system went into effect, which—in a way—is a misnomer because the reform effectively eliminated bail and moved to a system of utilizing clear criteria, formulas, and guidelines to determine if an individual should be released with or without conditions, or if they must be detained pending the resolution of their case.
How Does the Court Decide if I Should Be Detained or Released Before Trial?
New Jersey’s new guidelines on pre-trial detention state that an individual may not be detained unless it is determined that no condition or set of conditions can reasonably assure that the individual will not be a threat to public safety, a flight risk, or obstruct justice.
Now, rather than simply relying on a gut instinct, judges consider objective metrics like a Pretrial Safety Assessment (PSA) score when determining if an individual must be detained or if they can be released with conditions. An individual’s PSA score is determined by utilizing objective data to generate a score for risk factors. Some of the information considered includes prior convictions, pending charges at the time of arrest, prior failures to appear in court, prior incarceration, and defendant’s age. This information is used to assess the defendant’s risk for failure to appear, new criminal activity, and new violent criminal activity.
In addition to a PSA score, the court will consider recommendations generated by the Decision Making Framework (DMF), which provides recommendations for conditions of release or detention of an individual before their trial. Along with the PSA score and DMF recommendations, the court will also hear arguments from the prosecution and the defense.
Do I Need to a Lawyer for a Bail Hearing?
For a defendant, being released with a condition or set of conditions leading up to the trial is obviously preferable to being detained. Studies have shown that individuals who are detained pending their trial tend to get longer sentences and are at greater risk of being charged with another crime in the future.
While an individual’s PSA score and DMF recommendations may be outside of their control, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can convince the court to consider setting conditions for release, rather than detaining a defendant, by highlighting factors the PSA may not have considered and/or crafting a persuasive argument as to why the defendant is not a threat to society, not a flight risk, and will not obstruct the criminal justice process.
Bail Hearing Lawyer in Middlesex County NJ
If you have an upcoming bail hearing in Middlesex County, New Jersey, it is advisable to seek help from a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer before appearing in court. Contact the attorneys at William Proetta Criminal Law for a free consultation about your case. We will listen to your specific circumstances and if you choose to enlist our firm, we will aggressively advocate for your release pending trial. We regularly represent clients charged with distribution of cocaine, possession of heroin, aggravated assault, terroristic threats, illegal gun possession, and other felony offenses in Middlesex County and throughout New Jersey. We are dedicated to protecting your rights. Call (732) 659-9600 or contact us online today for more information.