In New Jersey, when a person is arrested, a judge or court official is contacted to set a bail amount. In a serious crime, there might not be any bail at all, but if bail is set, it is essentially an amount of money that functions as security to release the arrested person from jail pending trial or other resolution of the case. If the individual is unable to produce the amount of money needed to secure his or her release, there will be a hearing in which a judge will re-examine the level of bail. In general, there are rules to setting bail in New Jersey and the judges have to operate within those rules when setting bail.
A municipal judge is able to set bail for less serious crimes. In the event that an individual is charged with murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, violation of a domestic restraining order, criminal sexual contact, or is subject to a New Jersey Extradition, then only a Superior Court judge can set bail.
Factors Judges Consider When Setting Bail
A judge must consider the answers to the following questions when determining how to set bail for a defendant:
- How serious is the crime? What is the likelihood of the defendant being convicted? And what is the extent of the punishment for the statute that was violated?
- Does the defendant have a criminal record and what was his or her record on bail?
- What is the mental state of the defendant and how is his or her reputation?
- How long has the defendant lived in the community?
- What is the defendant's family situation and status of relationships?
- What is the defendant's financial condition, employment history and current status of employment?
- Is there anyone in the community that can vouch for the defendant as a reliable person worthy of bail?
- Are there any other factors to consider regarding the defendant's lifestyle, links to the community that would be relevant in the possibility of him or her failing to appear after being released on bail?
Levels of Crimes in New Jersey and Bail Amounts
For a crime that is in the fourth degree, a disorderly persons offense or a petty disorderly persons offense, the bail will ordinarily be set at $2,500. The judge, however, has the discretion to make the bail higher if the defendant is deemed to be a serious threat to the safety of others, if he or she will be at risk for destroying evidence or if the judge believes that a higher bail is needed to make sure the defendant shows up for his or her court date.
If the amount exceeds $2,500, the court must provide a reason for this decision. For a crime in the first, second or third degree, the judge has a freer rein to decide what the bail should be. In New Jersey, there are ranges in which the judge has to consider when setting bail.
Depending on the circumstances, the judge can release the defendant on his or her own recognizance and not require any bail. Alternatively, the judge can decide not to set any bail whatsoever and keep the defendant in jail. The judge may set terms for the individual to be released or put severe restrictions on setting bail. The decision is completely up to the court and can fall anywhere in between those two extremes.
Protect Yourself with Legal Representation
Being arrested is a tough enough situation without having to face the prospect of staying in jail without the opportunity to be bailed out. That's why it is important to have the proper representation throughout the entire process. The law firm of Villani & DeLuca in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey is experienced in all aspects of New Jersey criminal law and can help you with legal advice and representation during the bail process and afterwards.
Sometimes it's only a matter of having the right lawyer who knows the prosecutors and judges and can work with them to secure bail for the client. Most crimes are not so serious that bail is denied altogether and the amount can vary. If you have been arrested in Monmouth County or Ocean County, New Jersey, the experienced attorneys at Villani & DeLuca can help you. Call today to discuss your case.