Effective Friday, April 1, 2016, sweeping changes will be made to the Bergen County judiciary, changes that proponents say will strengthen a defendant’s right to a speedy trial and impose bail reform.
The Changes to the Bail System
Under the reformed approach to bail, the right to bail will be based on risk to the public, rather than on financial resources. Critics have long argued that the current system, where everyone has the opportunity to post bail, with the amount varying based on the crime, unfairly punishes people of low income. They allege that it allows persons of means who pose a risk to public safety to be freed, simply because they have the financial resources, whereas persons of low or moderate income may remain in jail on minor charges because they can’t afford bail.
Under the new rules, the risk to the public will be a factor in the decision, and a person can be held without bail until trial. On the other hand, non-violent offenders who do not pose a risk may be released without bail.
Enhancing the Right to a Speedy Trial
The new law also imposes time frames for trial that most haven’t seen for years. Effective January 1, 2017, Bergen County prosecutors must bring a case for indictment within 45 days from arrest, and once an indictment has been issued, must try the case within six months. In response to concerns that the current caseload in Bergen County makes that requirement untenable, the state of New Jersey had indicated that it will hire 22 new employees in every county to work in the Pre-Trial Services division.
Contact the Attorneys at Mallon & Tranger
We offer a free initial consultation to anyone facing criminal charges in New Jersey. To set up a meeting, contact us online or call us at 732-702-0333 for an appointment. We have offices in Freehold, Toms River and Point Pleasant.