Pretrial Detention in New Jersey Criminal Cases

Passaic County NJ Criminal Defense Attorney

Criminal defense attorney Alissa D. Hascup represents clients throughout New Jersey, including in Wayne, Clifton, Paterson, Totowa, and Passaic County, who have been charged with criminal offenses such as kidnapping, burglary, terroristic threats, and endangering the welfare of a child. Ms. Hascup is battle-tested criminal defense lawyer who is prepared to assist you with case-related issues and collateral issues. She will attack the criminal charges against you and put you in a position to achieve the best possible result.

She has successfully handled countless cases in New Jersey, in Superior Court (indictable/felony level offenses) and Municipal Court (disorderly persons/misdemeanor level offenses). Ms. Hascup is a former domestic violence prosecutor and special deputy attorney general. During the course of her career with the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, she has handled cases ranging from Homicide (murder) and aggravated assault to robbery and weapons offenses. Now she is fighting for you. Contact the law office of Alissa D. Hascup in Little Falls, New Jersey anytime for an initial consultation, which is always provided free of charge.

Bail Reform in New Jersey

The New Jersey Criminal Justice Reform Act, which took effect on January 1, 2017, essentially eliminated monetary bail in New Jersey.  The new law is codified at N.J.S.A. 2A:162-15, et seq.

The new system begins with the assumption that innocent people should not be in jail simply because they cannot afford to post bail. Persons charged with crimes or disorderly persons offense can now only be detained if their release poses an unacceptable flight risk or poses a danger to their community.

How the New Pretrial System Works

All defendants, other than those facing life imprisonment, are now entitled to a presumption of release.

For a defendant to be detained pending the outcome of a matter, a prosecutor must now convince a judge that no conditions could protect the public or ensure that a defendant’s appearance in court. Defendants at these hearings, who must be represented by attorneys, are entitled to limited discovery, and to call and cross-examine witnesses.

The system relies on a public-safety assessment (PSA) – a tool that allows the judge to make a reasoned decision about detention or release that is currently in use by about 40 jurisdictions. Based on the PSA score and the recommendation of the Pretrial Services Program, a pretrial release decision will be made.  The law provides for a decision to be rendered no later than 48 hours after the defendant’s commitment to jail. 

Courts now have the option of ordering that the eligible defendant be:

     (a)   released on the eligible defendant’s own recognizance (“ROR”) or on execution of an unsecured appearance bond; or
     (b)   released on a non-monetary condition or conditions, with the condition or conditions being the least restrictive condition or combination of conditions that the court determines will reasonably assure the eligible defendant’s appearance in court when required, the protection of the safety of any other person or the community, or that the eligible defendant will not obstruct or attempt to obstruct the criminal justice process; or
     (c)   released on monetary bail, other than an unsecured appearance bond, to reasonably assure the eligible defendant’s appearance in court when required, or a combination of monetary bail and non-monetary conditions, to reasonably assure the eligible defendant’s appearance in court when required, the protection of the safety of any other person or the community, or that the eligible defendant will not obstruct or attempt to obstruct the criminal justice process; or
     (d)   detained in jail.

Prosecutor’s Role

A prosecutor may file a motion with the court at any time, including any time before or after an eligible defendant’s release pursuant, seeking the pretrial detention of an eligible defendant for:

     (1)   any crime of the first or second degree;
     (2)   any crime for which the eligible defendant would be subject to an ordinary or extended term of life imprisonment;
     (3)   any crime if the eligible defendant has been convicted of two or more offenses under paragraph (1) or (2) of this subsection;  
     (4)   certain crimes relative to registered sex offenders or crimes involving human trafficking when the victim is a minor, or the crime of endangering the welfare of a child;
     (5)   certain crimes that would subject the eligible defendant to mandatory sentencing provisions;
     (6)   any crime or offense involving domestic violence; or
     (7)   any other crime for which the prosecutor believes there is a serious risk that:
     (a)   the eligible defendant will not appear in court as required;
     (b)   the eligible defendant will pose a danger to any other person or the community; or
     (c)   the eligible defendant will obstruct or attempt to obstruct justice, or threaten, injure, or intimidate, or attempt to threaten, injure or intimidate, a prospective witness or juror. 

When a motion for pretrial detention is filed, there is a rebuttable presumption that the eligible defendant shall be detained pending trial because no amount of monetary bail, non-monetary condition or combination of monetary bail and conditions would reasonably assure the eligible defendant’s appearance in court when required, the protection of the safety of any other person or the community, and that the eligible defendant will not obstruct or attempt to obstruct the criminal justice process, if the court finds probable cause that the eligible defendant:
     (1)   committed murder; or
     (2)   committed any crime for which the eligible defendant would be subject to an ordinary or extended term of life imprisonment.

Information Considered by the Courts

In determining in a pretrial detention hearing whether no amount of monetary bail, non-monetary conditions or combination of monetary bail and conditions would reasonably assure the eligible defendant’s appearance in court when required, the protection of the safety of any other person or the community, or that the eligible defendant will not obstruct or attempt to obstruct the criminal justice process, the court may take into account information concerning:

a.  The nature and circumstances of the offense charged;
b.  The weight of the evidence against the eligible defendant, except that the court may consider the admissibility of any evidence sought to be excluded;
c.  The history and characteristics of the eligible defendant, including:
(1) 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
(2) 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;
d.  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;
e.  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
f.  The release recommendation of the pretrial services program.

Contact a Paterson NJ Bail Reform Lawyer for a Free Consultation

For additional information on bail reform or your options, contact Alissa D. Hascup right away. Fill out her online contact form or call her Little Falls, NJ office today.

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If you are facing criminal charges in New Jersey, you want a battle-tested, aggressive criminal defense attorney on your side. Alissa D. Hascup will protect your rights and your freedom. She is highly skilled and highly motivated and puts clients first – always.

Please contact Ms. Hascup’s office today to request a free initial consultation about your charges. She will review the facts of your case, answer your questions and tell you how she can help get your charges significantly reduced or even dismissed.

With offices in Paterson, Newark and Hackensack, Ms. Hascup can be reached 24/7 and offers nights and weekend appointments as well as flexible payment options.

Courts We Serve

In Passaic County, including Paterson, Clifton, Wayne, Passaic, West Milford, Hawthorne, Little Falls, Pompton Lakes, Ringwood, Woodland Park, Wanaque, Totowa, North Haledon, Haledon, Bloomingdale, and Prospect Park and in Essex County, including Newark, East Orange, West Orange, South Orange, Irvington, Bloomfield, Montclair, Belleville, Nutley, Maplewood, Millburn, Verona, Cedar Grove, West Caldwell, Glen Ridge, Fairfield, and Roseland.