If you have been charged with a crime in New Jersey, you’ll probably have to wait for a significant period of time between being charged and going to trial. Depending on the nature of your crime, you could be held in jail while you await trial, but there are ways to avoid spending this time behind bars. Posting bail means that you pay a deposit to the court in an amount set by the judge in order to be released from jail pending your trial date. This amount should be reasonable, as bail is meant as an incentive for people to return to court and should not be set as a punishment for a particular crime or to act as a deterrent for committing other crimes.
Your Rights in New Jersey
According to the New Jersey Constitution, all persons have a right to post bail in an amount that is not prohibitively high. In the 1972 case State v. Johnson, 61 N.J. 351, 364-365, the New Jersey Supreme Court determined eight factors that a judge must consider in determining a bail amount:
- The crime itself – How serious is the crime in question? Is a conviction likely? What are the penalties for a conviction?
- Criminal history – Do you have an existing criminal record? If so, have you skipped out on bail or missed court dates before?
- Personal reputation and mental status – Do you have a history of insanity or poor personal life choices?
- Community ties – How long have you lived in your community? Do you have strong ties that will keep you from picking up and leaving?
- Family ties – Do you have family or dependents in the area?
- Work history – Are you employed? How long have you been working in your current job, and what is your pay rate?
- Recommendation – Will upstanding members of your community vouch for your reliability?
- Outside factors – This includes any lifestyle choices or ties that would make you more or less of a flight risk if you post bail.
Based on this list of criteria, a committee of New Jersey judges has established guidelines for other judges to consider when setting bail for those accused of each type of crime. The more serious the crime, the higher the bail amount. Each additional factor will be weighed to see whether you pose a flight risk. If there is enough evidence to suggest that you might not show up for your trial, a judge could raise the amount of bail significantly.
Posting bail can mean the difference between months spent with friends and family or months spent behind bars waiting for your trial, so it’s critical that you let a New Jersey criminal defense attorney help you build your case. If you are unable to afford your bail, your attorney may be able to use the criteria above to prove that the judge’s initial amount is too high. At The Gorman Law Firm, Scott Gorman represents anyone who has been charged with a crime in New Jersey. For more information about your case, contact the office today serving Essex County and Morristown.
Published in Categories: Criminal Defense