Since January 1, 2017, the State of New Jersey has adopted the Bail Reform System. Unlike the old system, Bail Reform does not permit the issuance of cash or bond bails. Instead, individuals accused of crimes have a rebuttable presumption of release for all charges except for first-degree indictable offenses. When an individual is arrested and sent to the county jail, they will be interviewed by an intake officer from pretrial services. The officer will make a determination based on a computerized risk assessment scale as to the accused’s risk of committing a new offense and risk of failure to appear in court. This is then scored on a risk assessment scale from one to five and is memorialized in what is referred to as the “PSA” or Preliminary Safety Assessment. The PSA will also consider other factors in deciding whether the accused is recommended for release. These factors include the age of the accused, criminal history, past failures to appear in court and the risk of new violent criminal activity. Depending on the factors, pre-trial will make a recommendation as to release and it will be considered by the judge presiding over the detention hearing.
Additionally, if an individual is accused of first-degree felonies they are no longer afforded the presumption of release. This is because these are the most serious group of charges in the state, e.g. Murder, Kidnapping, Aggravated Sexual Assault, and other crimes that will be explained further. The accused must instead rebut the presumption of detention for these offenses by showing that they will likely not be convicted at trial. This is determined under a preponderance standard, which is lower than the standard required to prove one’s guilt at trial. After the judge rules on detention, the accused will either be released, released with conditions or detained. Whatever the decision may be, the next step in the criminal process is Grand Jury.