A detention hearing is the part of the criminal justice process where a judge determines whether to release the defendant or keep them in jail before trial. In New Jersey, there have been major changes to the pretrial process because of what is called “Bail Reform.” New Jersey decided to reform its bail system, which was previously based on cash bail, by creating a process based on assessing risk. This means that when someone gets arrested in New Jersey, the decision about whether or not they should get out of jail before trial is not determined by their ability to post bail, but instead by factors included in a risk assessment.
If you are scheduled to appear for a detention hearing in Union County, New Jersey, the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Proetta & Oliver can help. Our attorneys will formulate a strategy based on your specific situation that positions you for the best chance of being released. We defend clients at detention hearings in Union County and throughout New Jersey on a regular basis. Call us today at (908) 838-0150 or contact us online for an absolutely free consultation.
The Pretrial Detention and Bail Hearing Process
In New Jersey, a detention decision is based on what the person allegedly did and whether the person is dangerous or is unlikely to appear for court. If the prosecutor believes that any of these elements may be an issue, then he or she files a motion for pretrial detention. If this motion is not filed, then the defendant is released before trial. If the prosecutor files a motion for detention, the next step is the detention hearing.
A pretrial detention hearing occurs at the defendant’s first appearance, which must occur within one or two days of their arrest. If a prosecutor files a detention motion after the first apperance has occurred, a hearing on the motion must happen within three days after the motion is filed. The defendant can be detained until the hearing happens, but generally just for those three days. The defendant has the right to be at their bail hearing and to present a case for their release to the judge. As a defendant at a detention hearing, you have the right to an attorney advocating on your behalf.
The hearing is not too different from a bail hearing under the old laws in New Jersey. During the hearing, the defense can argue that the person should be released by demonstrating to the court that they are not a flight risk, a danger to others, or likely to commit another offense. For the prosecution to “win” the hearing and have the defendant detained before trial, they must show that:
(1) there is probable cause that the defendant committed the alleged crime, which may include a police report or testimony from a detective; and
(2) the defendant is a flight risk (will not show up to court), might obstruct justice, or is dangerous.
For some particularly egregious offenses like rape and murder, there is a presumption that the person will be detained. Generally, however, there is a presumption of release or release on certain conditions at a detention hearing.
In addition to evidence presented by the prosecutor and defense counsel, the court will have access to a pretrial risk-assessment report created for the defendant. The report is called a Public Safety Assessment (PSA) and it incorporates a variety of factors, including the nature of the offense, the defendant’s criminal history (if any), prior failures to appear in court, and more. These are all used by the judge to make a decision regarding pretrial detention in a specific case. Notably, you have the right to appeal a pretrial detention decision.
Detention Hearing Lawyers in Union County, New Jersey
If you or a loved one has an upcoming detention hearing in Union County, NJ, make sure to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer vigorously advocating on your behalf. As is your right, an attorney can assist and advise throughout the pretrial process, so take advantage of the opportunity to best present your case. Contact the criminal defense attorneys at Proetta & Oliver at (908) 838-0150 for more information. We provide consultations free of charge.