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Bail

Bail Reduction in New Brunswick

Middlesex County Bail Reduction Attorneys

Bail is the money or property deposited with the court to secure the release of a person held in custody awaiting the resolution of charges pending against them. In order to have bail reduced, a bail motion must be filed with the court. Our team of tough, smart New Jersey criminal defense attorneys file powerful bail motions that are supported by both factual and legal arguments. From Burlington County to Union County, our attorneys can represent you or your loved one in any court in New Jersey and we promise to always provide you with the best service.

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Right to Bail

The New Jersey Constitution, Article I, paragraph 11, provides that all persons shall, before conviction, be bailable by sufficient sureties, except for capital offenses when the proof is evident or presumption great. Paragraph 12 further provides that excessive bail shall not be required . . .

The New Jersey Supreme Court, in interpreting this right, has said that the right to bail means that the accused has the right to pre-trial liberty on such bond and in such amount as in the judgment of the trial court under the circumstances of the case will assure his appearance at the trial. State v. Johnson, 61 N.J. 351, 359-360 (1972). However, the Court has recognized that bail may not always be possible. In Johnson, the Court also said if, however, the court is satisfied from the evidence presented on the application for bail that regardless of the amount of bail fixed, the accused if released will probably flee to avoid trial, bail may be denied. Id. at 360.

Purpose of Bail

The purpose of bail is to ensure that a defendant appears for all court events, both pre-trial and trial. Its purpose is not to punish nor is it to detain a person pre-trial to assure he doesn’t commit another crime (preventative detention). State v. Johnson, 61 N.J. 351, 364 (1972); State v. Fann, 239 N.J. Super. 507 (Law Div. 1990). Additionally, the Court has said that the constitutional right to bail must not be unduly burdened, i.e., that excessive bail should not be utilized as a means of confining the accused until trial. State v. Johnson, supra, 61 N.J. at, 364-365.

Authority to Set Bail

A New Jersey Superior Court judge may set bail for a person charged with any offense. In New Jersey, bail for any offense except murder, kidnapping, manslaughter, aggravated manslaughter, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, a person arrested in any extradition proceeding or a person arrested under N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9b for violating a restraining order may be set by any other New Jersey judge, or in the absence of a judge, by a New Jersey Municipal Court administrator or deputy court administrator. In most cases, bail is set initially in Municipal Court by a Municipal Court judge. See R. 3:26-2(2). 9

Factors to Consider when Setting Bail

In State v. Johnson, supra, 61 N.J. at 364-365 the New Jersey Supreme Court identified a number of factors that must be considered in fixing bail:

  1. The seriousness of the crime charged against the defendant, the apparent likelihood of conviction, and the extent of the punishment prescribed by the legislature.
  2. The defendant’s criminal record, if any, and previous record on bail, if any.
  3. The defendant’s reputation and mental condition.
  4. The length of the defendant’s residence in the community.
  5. The defendant’s family ties and relationships.
  6. The defendant’s employment status, record of employment, and financial condition.
  7. The identity of responsible members of the community who would vouch for the defendant’s reliability.
  8. Any other factors indicating defendant’s mode of life, or ties to the community, or bearing on the risk of failure to appear.
    See also R. 3:26-1, which lists background, residence, employment, family status, the general policy against unnecessary sureties and detention as factors to consider when setting bail. R. 3:26-1 also allows the court to R.O.R. defendants and impose terms or conditions necessary to protect persons in the community.

Domestic Violence Cases

Violations of domestic violence restraining orders should be reviewed with the same severity as high impact offenses. Once a defendant has been arrested and charged with an indictable domestic violence offense, a New Jersey Superior Court judge will set bail. Non-indictable N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9(b) bail matters should be handled by a Superior Court judge, unless otherwise approved by the Assignment Judge. In domestic violence cases some special rules apply:

  1. A judge cannot set bail without considering the defendant’s prior record.
  2. There is a statutory requirement that bail be set within 12 hours of arrest.
  3. Once bail has been set, it may not be reduced without prior notice to the county prosecutor and the victim.
  4. Bail shall not be reduced by a judge other than the judge who originally ordered bail, unless the reasons for the amount of the original bail are available to the judge who reduces the bail and are set forth on the record.
  5. The victim’s address is to be kept confidential.
  6. A copy of the bail order, specifying conditions of bail/release, including restraints, must be given to the victim forthwith.
  7. Bail orders on domestic violence cases must capture a. the gender of the parties, b. the relationship of the parties, c. the relief sought, and d. the nature of the relief granted.

When Bail is Set

In New Jersey, bail is initially set either contemporaneously with the issuance of a warrant, subsequent to the issuance of a warrant but prior to the first appearance, or at the first appearance. However, if bail was not set when an arrest warrant was issued, the person who is arrested on that warrant shall have bail set without unnecessary delay, and no later than 12 hours after arrest. At the law firm of Jack Venturi Law, our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys will fight for you to get your bail lowered. Our attorneys will then set you up with a good bail bondsman that can help get you out of any jail in New Jersey.

Review of Initial Bail Set

Informal Review

Any person unable to post bail shall have his or her bail reviewed by a Superior Court judge no later than the next day, that is not a Saturday, Sunday, nor a legal holiday. See R. 3:26-22. In most counties, the Superior Court judge reviews the bail shortly after the offender reaches the county jail by reviewing the complaint, usually in chambers, but in some instances with a Criminal Division probation officer or investigator who has interviewed the offender in jail. In some counties, an assistant prosecutor is present during the review. This procedure was started largely as a response to jail overcrowding and provides a quick method of reviewing bail.

Formal Review

The New Jersey Court Rules only provide for a bail review via motion. Under R. 3:26-2(d), bail reduction motions are to be heard no later than seven days after the motion is filed. In some counties, the full seven days is required before a motion to reduce bail is heard while in others these motions are scheduled in less than seven days. However, in order to alleviate jail over crowding and reduce the volume of work created by the filing of motions, most counties do not require the filing of a motion for this review. These counties automatically schedule a review for any new defendant that remains in custody unable to post bail. However, a motion is required for any subsequent bail review requested by defense counsel.

Types of Bail

When bail is set, it can be satisfied in one or more of the following ways

1. Cash Bail

The defendant or surety must deposit with the court a certain amount of money. A surety is a person, other than defendant, who is posting bail.

Full Cash

Full cash bail must be posted when a defendant is charged with certain crimes of the first or second degree as enumerated at N.J.S.A. 2A:162-12a. and the defendant

  1. has two other indictable cases pending at the time of the arrest;
  2. has two prior convictions for a first or second degree crime or for a violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-7 or any combination thereof;
  3. has one prior conviction for murder, aggravated manslaughter, aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping or bail jumping; or
  4. was on parole at the time of the arrest.

Ten Percent Cash Bail

Except in first or second degree crimes as set forth in N.J.S.A. 2A:162-12 and unless the order setting bail specifies the contrary, whenever bail is set pursuant to R. 3:26-1, bail may be satisfied by the deposit in court of cash in the amount of ten percent of the bail amount, and by the defendant executing a recognizance for the remaining ninety percent. Under the Court Rules, ten percent cash bail is presumed when the judge sets an amount, unless the judge orders otherwise. See R. 3:26-4(g). When ten percent cash is deposited with the court and is owned by someone other than the defendant, the owner of the cash cannot charge a fee other than the lawful interest. See R. 3:26-4(g).

2. Corporate Surety Bonds

A corporate surety bond usually is posted by a bail agent (bondsman) who represents an insurance company that is approved by the commissioner of the Department of Banking and Insurance. The bail agent must have a power of attorney from the insurance company. The bond is a contract between the court and the insurance company whereby the insurance agency agrees to be responsible for the full amount of the bail should the defendant fail to appear in court.

3. Property Bonds

For a property bond, the defendant or a surety posts real property, (e.g., a house) to satisfy the bail amount. In order to post real property, the defendant or surety must provide the court with the following information in accordance with

N.J.S.A. 2A:162-12:

  1. a legal description of the property;
  2. a description of each encumbrance on the real property;
  3. the market value of the unencumbered equity owned by the affiant as determined in a full appraisal conducted by an appraiser licensed by the state of New Jersey; and
  4. a statement that the affiant is the sole owner of the unencumbered equity.

If real property is going to be posted for a crime with bail restrictions as identified in N.J.S.A. 2A:162-12a, the property must be located in New Jersey with an unencumbered equity equal to the amount of the bail undertaken plus $20,000.

4. Released on Own Recognizance (ROR)

When a court releases a defendant on his/her own recognizance the court does not set a bail amount. However, a recognizance must be signed by the defendant thereby acknowledging that he or she will appear in court and abide by any other conditions imposed by the court.

With our office in New Brunswick, our offices are easy to reach from anywhere in New Jersey.