Pretrial Detention Hearings in Ocean County NJ

Ocean County Detention Hearing

Pursuant to the New Bail Reform Guidelines, effective January 1, 2017, monetary bails have been removed and replaced with a process known as pretrial detention hearings. Under N.J.S.A. 2A:162-19, a prosecutor may file a motion at any time seeking the pretrial detention of a defendant for whom a complaint-warrant or warrant on indictment is issued for an initial charge involving an indictable offense, or a disorderly persons offense involving domestic violence. The purpose of this new system is to move towards a reliance on pretrial release by non-monetary means to reasonably assure an eligible defendant’s appearance in court when required, the protection of the safety of any other person or the community, that the eligible defendant will not obstruct or attempt to obstruct the criminal justice process, and that the eligible defendant will comply with all conditions of release. While monetary bail generally will not be issued, monetary bail may be set for an eligible defendant only when it is determined that no other conditions of release will reasonably assure the eligible defendant’s appearance in court when required. If you our someone you love have been arrested and charged with a criminal offense, you may be subject to pretrial detention. If the Prosecutor files for your detention hearing, contact an experienced Ocean County Criminal Defense Attorney to fight this motion. Do not let the State keep you locked up for months pending a formal trial. Call 848-238-2100 today and speak with an Ocean County lawyer about representation at your Detention Hearing.

What is a Detention Hearing?

A pretrial detention hearing is filed by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office and heard before a Superior Court judge at or before the defendant’s first appearance (though the hearing may also occur after this appearance in certain instances). If the prosecutor files a motion at or subsequent to the defendant’s first appearance the pretrial detention hearing shall be held within three working days of the date of the prosecutor’s motion unless a request for a continuance is filed. At this hearing, the defendant is entitled to be represented by counsel.

At this Hearing, the defendant has the right to:

  • Testify
  • Present witnesses
  • Cross-examine witnesses who appear at the hearing and
  • Present information by proffer or otherwise.

You must be aware that if you testify, your testimony, while not admissible on the issue of your guilt, may be admissible for the purpose of impeachment later on at trial. If you are facing a Detention Hearing without an indictment having first been obtained, then the prosecutor must also establish probable cause that you committed the underlying offense.

What Discovery Is Provided at a Detention Hearing?

Court rules require that the Ocean County Prosecutor give the defendant, at a minimum, a copy of the complaint, certain discovery and inform the defendant of the charge. Where pretrial detention is not sought but instead the Prosecutor is looking for other non-custodial restrictions, the prosecutor shall provide the defendant with a copy of any available preliminary law enforcement incident reports concerning the offense and the affidavit of probable cause (unless the case has already been indicted). Conversely, if the prosecutor is seeking pretrial detention, they shall provide the defendant with (1) preliminary law enforcement incident reports, (2) affidavit of probable cause, (3) all statements or reports relating to the affidavit of probable cause, (4) all statements or reports relating to additional evidence the State relies on to establish probable cause at the hearing, and most importantly (5) all exculpatory evidence.

Case law is constantly being created regarding Pretrial Detention Hearings. One of the most recent and important rulings came from State v. Ingram. There the court held that these hearing do not require that live witness testimony be presented. This means that the prosecutor can proffer evidence without ever giving the defendant and counsel an opportunity to cross-examine these witness that the evidence is based upon. For defendants, this has proven to be a difficult hurdle.

What Does a Judge Consider at a Detention Hearing?

When making a determination at a Pretrial Detention Hearing, the court may take into account the following information:

  • The nature and circumstances of the offense charged;
  • The weight of the evidence against the eligible defendant, except that the court may consider the admissibility of any evidence sought to be excluded;
  • The history and characteristics of the eligible defendant, including:
    • The eligible defendant’s character, physical and mental condition, family ties, employment, financial resources, length of residence in the community, community ties, past conduct, history relating to drug or alcohol abuse, criminal history, and record concerning appearance at court proceedings; and
    • Whether, at the time of the current offense or arrest, the eligible defendant was on probation, parole, or on other release pending trial, sentencing, appeal, or completion of sentence for an offense under federal law, or the law of this or any other state;
  • The nature and seriousness of the danger to any other person or the community that would be posed by the eligible defendant’s release, if applicable;
  • The nature and seriousness of the risk of obstructing or attempting to obstruct the criminal justice process that would be posed by the eligible defendant’s release, if applicable; and
  • The release recommendation of the pretrial services program obtained using a risk assessment instrument

Pretrial Detention Hearing Attorney in Toms River

The law firm of William Proetta Criminal Law dedicates its focus to criminal defense practice. Our attorneys understand the intricacies of a criminal case and have successfully handled thousands of criminal matters for clients throughout New Jersey, including Ocean County. Whether your matter occured in Toms River, Barnegat, Lacey, Jackson, Brick, Point Pleasant, Stafford or any other Ocean County Municipality, our firm is available to help. Call 848-238-2100 today.