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Getting out of jail: pre-trial release in New Jersey

by | Aug 9, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

Upon getting arrested in New Jersey and being charged on a warrant complaint, police will process you and take you to the county jail. Before you can properly deal with the charges, however, it’s best to get out of lockup as soon as possible. Fortunately, recent changes in the law mean you have a good chance of being released while your case is pending.

In 2017, the New Jersey Criminal Justice Reform Act officially went into effect. This new law created a presumption that someone arrested and charged with a crime in the Garden State cannot be held in jail, unless the judge reasonably believes that the person is: 1) a danger to the community; or 2) a flight risk; or 3) a risk to obstruct justice. If charged with murder or a crime punishable by life imprisonment there is a presumption of detention but you can still be released if there is no clear and convincing evidence that you are: 1) a danger to the community; or 2) a flight risk; or 3) a risk to obstruct justice.

Cash bail virtually eliminated

Essentially, the law eliminated the cash bail requirement to get out of jail. In just four years, this has made a dramatic difference in the number of accused individuals trapped in jail while they await trial or a negotiated plea deal. This means that more New Jersey residents accused — but not convicted — of a crime have the chance to go back to their lives during the pretrial phase.

Not only does this make it easier for them to work with an attorney to help prepare their defense, but it also lets them go back to their families and jobs. Before 2017, arrested people would often get fired because they could not show up to work. They might miss their rent or mortgage payments and get evicted or foreclosed on. Just a week or two in jail could turn the lives of an accused individual and their family upside down.

Arguing for your freedom

However, keep in mind that if you are arrested, the prosecutor assigned to your case could try to convince the judge to hold you behind bars, depending on the type of charges against you. At the detention hearing, your defense attorney can argue on your behalf why the presumption of release should apply to you and why the state has failed to present clear and convincing evidence that no conditions exist to justify your release.