Rights & Evidence in Court when Determining Bail

evidence for bail hearing

New Jersey eliminated the cash bail system and implemented a new pretrial detention system in January 2017. Under the new system, the state has the burden of making a motion that establishes, by clear and convincing evidence, that you should remain in jail leading up to your trial. If the state fails to meet this burden, you should be released until your trial commences. The state must make any motion to keep you in jail prior to your trial at a pretrial detention hearing held shortly after your arrest. Moreover, the prosecutor is required to provide you with certain information, known as “discovery” information, prior to your bail hearing. If you or a loved one has been arrested and is currently being held in jail before going to court for bail, it is vital to understand your rights at each stage of the criminal process. Our local Union County criminal defense lawyers can guide you through the justice system and zealously defend you or a loved one against domestic violence chargesaggravated assaultburglaryrobberyunlawful possession of a weaponterroristic threats, or any other criminal charges you may be facing. Contact our office in Cranford at (908) 838-0150 to speak with an attorney free of charge.

Arrested and Held in Union County Jail

Under the state’s new pretrial detention system, individuals cannot simply post bail through a bond or a cash payment. The new system presumes that defendants should not remain in pretrial detention, except in murder or life-sentence cases, unless the state can establish that no combination of release conditions can ensure that the defendant will come back to court, ensure that the defendant will not obstruct justice upon release, or ensure the safety of the community upon the defendant’s release. The state must request that you remain in jail at a pretrial detention hearing held not more than 48 hours after your arrest.

Your Rights in Court for Bail in Elizabeth NJ

The prosecutor who is making a motion for pretrial detention must provide you with certain information, generally known as “discovery” information, prior to your pretrial detention hearing. This information includes any available preliminary law enforcement incident report concerning the offense and any probable cause affidavit associated with your arrest. The prosecutor must also provide you with all statements or reports on the issue of whether the state had probable cause to arrest you, all statements or reports related to additional evidence that may be used to establish probable cause at the pretrial detention hearing, all statements or reports related to the pretrial detention factors listed in the relevant New Jersey statute, NJSA 2A:162- 18(a)(1), and all exculpatory evidence in the state’s possession and control. Exculpatory evidence is loosely defined as evidence that tends to prove your innocence. Such discovery information must be provided at least 24 hours before your detention hearing.

How Do You Get Out of Jail Before Trial in Union County Court?

There can be significant consequences if the state fails to provide you with the discovery information listed above prior to your pretrial detention hearing. If the prosecutor withholds such information from you, your attorney may be able to move to reopen your pretrial detention hearing so that the judge can consider this withheld evidence.
If the court determines that withheld exculpatory evidence had a reasonable probability of affecting the results of the detention hearing, the detention hearing should be reopened. The state must establish that a new hearing should not be held by proving that there is no reasonable probability that the outcome of your hearing would have been different if the discovery information had been properly disclosed. If the state fails to make this showing, your pretrial detention hearing should be reopened.

Even if the state does meet its burden to provide you with the required evidence against you, there are many other ways to successfully argue for release during a bail hearing. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can present various forms of evidence, including witness testimony, to demonstrate to the judge that you are not a flight risk, do not present a danger to the community, have no intention of obstructing justice, and that you will appear for all required court dates until your case is resolved.

In Need of Help from a Westfield, NJ Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been arrested in Union County and are being held in jail, you should seek help from an experienced criminal defense attorney prior to going to court for bail. Don’t wait until after a bail decision has been made to find the right lawyer to defend your case. Call (908) 838-0150 to get a free consultation and discuss your best defense.

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.