The Ins and Outs of Getting Released on Bail in New Jersey
When someone is arrested the Court will set bail to insure that they will return to court for all proceedings. Bail is not intended to punish nor is it to prevent further crimes. Bail can only be denied if there is a risk of flight by the defendant or the charge is a capital offense. NJ Constitution Article I, paragraph II. The NJ Constitution further provides in paragraph 12 that excessive bail shall not be required . . . The Supreme Court in State v. Johnson, 61 N.J. 351 (1972), directed that an evaluation to determine the appropriate amount of bail, should be conducted using the following factors: (1) the seriousness of the crime charged, the apparent likelihood of conviction, and the extent of the punishment prescribed; (2) the defendant's criminal record and previous record on bail; (3) the defendant's reputation and mental condition; (4) the defendant's length of 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; and (8) any other factors indicating the 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 and R. 7:4-1. The Court has stressed 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. Bail must be set within 12 hours of the arrest. If the defendant cannot afford the original bail her/his attorney may file a motion for bail reduction under R.3:26. Said motion must be heard within seven days of filing. R 3:26-2(d). A bail reduction motion may be filed shortly after the defendant has been in jail, and once every ten days if there is cause. Judges generally will not reduce the bail unless the defendant has been held for a significant period time and there is no concern that the defendant might leave the area. If you continuously file bale motions without something new to consider the court will not reduce the bail and become annoyed to the defendants detriment. Not to worry, there are several ways that bail can be satisfied. Full Cash Full cash bail is required if 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
- has two other indictable cases pending at the time of the arrest;
- 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;
- has one prior conviction for murder, aggravated manslaughter, aggravated sexual assault, kidnapping or bail jumping; or
- was on parole at the time of the arrest.
1) Ten Percent Cash Bail When bail is set pursuant to R. 3:26-1, bail may be satisfied by depositing 10% of the bail amount in cash, and the defendant must execute a recognizance (which means an agreement you make with a court of law) for the other 90%. Court Rule R. 3:26-4(g), provides that ten percent cash bail is presumed when the judge sets an amount, unless the judge orders otherwise. 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, 2. Corporate Surety Bonds A corporate surety bond may be posted by a bail agent who represents an insurance company. 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 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:
- a legal description of the property;
- a description of each encumbrance on the real property;
- the market value of the unencumbered equity owned by the affiant. A full appraisal must be conducted by an appraiser licensed by the state of New Jersey; and
- 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. If you or a loved one needs help with a bail reduction or any other criminal matter in New Jersey, contact the criminal defense lawyers at DeMichele & DeMichele today. We are here to defend the charges against you. Contact us now for your confidential and free initial consultation. You can also reach us by telephone (856) 546-1350.