Bail is a central plot point in TV and movie crime dramas, but it’s always discussed in generic terms: “making bail,” “denied bail,” “the bail is excessively high,” etc. For the average viewer, it may not really matter, but if you’ve been charged with criminal activity in New Jersey, you may be confused about the process for setting and posting bail.
A defendant’s right to bail before trial and the factors that judges consider when setting bail are set forth in New Jersey’s Rule of Court 3:26-1. A defendant charged with criminal acts has the right to bail before he or she is convicted, unless the crime for which he or she is charged is one punishable by death in New Jersey, and the prosecution can prove that a conviction involving the death penalty is likely.
For all other charges, a defendant has the right to have the court set an amount for bail. Under the federal and New Jersey constitutions, this amount should not exceed a reasonable sum to ensure that the defendant will come back for his or her court appearances and trial. If the defendant is able to come up with the cash amount set by the judge, he or she is free to leave jail.
What Affects a Bail Amount?
When determining how high or low to set a person’s bail, the judge takes into account several factors about the circumstances of the crime and the person’s prior history. These factors include:
- The seriousness of the charged offense
- The likelihood that the defendant will be convicted
- the defendant’s job history
- The criminal record of the defendant, if he or she has one
- Whether the defendant has a history of missing court dates or skipping town
- Whether the defendant poses a threat to the community
- The defendant’s ties to the community, if any
- Whether the defendant was out on bail when he or she was arrested for the current crime
What are the Options for Bail?
In New Jersey’s Superior Court, there are a few ways bail can be issued:
- Cash only – the full amount of the bail must be posted, in cash.
- Cash with 10 percent option – 10 percent of the bail amount must be paid in cash. The other 90 percent does not have to paid, unless the defendant does not appear for his or her court date, and the court orders payment.
- Release on one’s own recognizance (ROR) – the defendant does not pay, but signs a written promise to appear for all court dates.
- Bail bond – a licensed bail bondsman posts a written obligation or surety bond with the court, for a non-refundable fee.
- Property bond – the defendant takes a lien against property to use as a bond payment. The property owner must have enough equity to pay the bail amount if the defendant fails to appear for court.
Work With Your Attorney
At The Gorman Law Firm, we represent anyone who has been charged with criminal acts. Although technically it is not punishment, you can find yourself in a county jail for weeks or months if you are unable to post bail so you will want to work closely with your Morristown criminal defense attorney as you wait for your trial. For more information on bail options in the state, contact Scott Gorman, a leading criminal defense lawyer at The Gorman Law Firm, today.
Published in Categories: Criminal Defense