How the Detention System Operated Previously in New Jersey
Detention hearings used to be called “bail hearings” and the system operated as a cash-bail system. What this meant is that the judge would assess the background of the defendant and whether they would actually appear in court. The severity of the offense was also taken into account to determine whether the defendant was a flight risk. There were more minor cases of theft where the defendant would have waited more in the county jail for more time than their sentence would have been since they were not able to afford the amount designated for their cash bail.
Key Changes of the Bail/Detention Process in New Jersey
Within the first 48 hours, the Prosecutor will decide whether they want to seek detention of the defendant. If so, then there will be a detention hearing within those first 48 hours. When a Prosecutor decides to seek detention, it becomes more complicated to represent the defendant since it will be harder to have access to them in jail, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. In this case, a warrant complaint is filed and the defendant will go to county jail regardless of how much cash they have. If a Prosecutor decides that detention is not necessary, then the defendant will typically be released with conditions.
Why It Is Best to Be Active in the First 48 Hours
The first 48 hours are essential for my firm to contact the Prosecutor and see if a detention hearing is necessary. If I am able to convince to release on conditions, it is much easier. If the Prosecutor does not file for detention, there will be a hearing in five days. I will have access to discovery and will have to prepare for a judge to argue certain conditions that are available such as calling in, appearing at the courthouse, house arrest, or GPS monitoring to ensure the defendant’s presence, protect society, and avoid obstruction of justice.
The Benefits of the New Bail/Detention System in New Jersey
Since the new system has been implemented, Prosecutors are not incentivized to seek detention because if they do, speedy trial rights are now triggered on a constitutional level. Before Prosecutors did not have to provide a great deal of information about relevant evidence they had regarding the defendant’s case unless there was a plea offer in the pre-indictment stage or an arraignment. Now, if they are seeking detention, they will have to provide more information and give our firm more information to defend our clients.
How Covid-19 Impacts These New Regulations in New Jersey
The Covid-19 pandemic has absolutely had an impact on the court system and typical criminal procedures within the State of New Jersey. There are no jury trials occurring right now. The defendants that are detained in the county jail have waited longer than expected since the courts are closed. Speedy trial rights were recently decided on how the credits impact defendant’s time in jail due to Covid-19-related delays. Currently, there are many issues being decided upon to promote the appropriate application of justice during these challenging times and while the cash bail and detention hearings are one solution, there are still other backlogs in the Criminal Justice system that are being decided, which could greatly have an impact on a defendant’s case. This is why working with an experienced attorney that is constantly apprised of recent changes is critical for your upcoming case.
How I Can Help You
Prosper A. Bellizia is a former prosecutor who has handled the investigations and prosecutions of crimes in New Jersey was certified along with only 250 other attorneys as certified criminal trial attorneys by the New Jersey Supreme Court. Mr. Bellizia has extensive experience related to Criminal Defense cases in New Jersey.
My firm focuses on practice areas related to Criminal Defense, and Municipal Court and Expungment matters. Contact me at 973-202-6160 to schedule a preliminary free consultation to discuss how I can potentially assist you with your upcoming case.