Current New Jersey Bail Law vs. the New Bail Reform…(in a way you can actually understand)

When someone is arrested, bail is not immediately set depending on the nature of the crime or violation. In most cases, those arrested are issued a summons and simply released on their “own recognizance” (OR). These decisions can be made by the arresting officer and/or the judge on call at the police department and take into consideration many factors, such as the nature of the crime and the defendants criminal history. Thousands are released every year on their own recognizance with a “promise” to go to court. If it is determined by the judge (due to the nature of the alleged crime committed and facts relating to the case) that the offense requires secured release, the judges depend on the “Bail Schedule” to give them some guidelines as to how to set bail. That schedule can be found by clicking here…Bail Schedule.

Types of Bail…

OR – Release on own recognizance – the defendant is released on his his own recognizance with a promise to show up at any and all court dates.

10% Option – The defendant can be released after another party posts 10% of the face value of the bail. Example…a defendant can be released on a $10,000 bond after another party (usually family or friend) posts 10% = $1,000 at the jail.

Surety Bond – The defendant can be released after a commercial bondman posts a Surety Bond (an instrument that is backed by an insurance company) for the FULL amount of the bond. The bonding company charges 10% of the face value (that percentage is regulated by the state) as premium to take on the liability. In order for the bonding company to take on the liability, they have “Indemnitors” sign (co-signers) to help guarantee his appearance in court. These Indemnitors often include family and friends and are vetted to assure their cooperation in making sure the defendant appears in court.

Cash Bond – The defendant must post 100% of the face value of the bond in cash.

What happens when the defendant does not go to court?

When the defendant is released OR and fails to appear, the court simply issues a warrant for his/her arrest. The police departments, at the taxpayers expense, now bear the burden of apprehending the defendant. Due to the limited resources our police departments currently have, these warrants are usually only served during routine events (traffics stops, etc.). One could argue as to the attention these warrants get at various police departments throughout the state, however, the fact that the taxpayers are picking up the tab is not in dispute.

The same principals apply on a 10% Option, however, the individual who posted the bail now forfeits the 10%…which in turn gets shifted to the state/municipal bail fund (wherever that is).

On a Surety Bond, the surety is now 100% liable for that bond and defendant and is court ordered to surrender the defendant within 75 days or face judgement by the court. If not satisfied, the surety faces removal from the “bail registry” which is the list of authorized bail agents allowed to conduct business in New Jersey. No payment plans. No room for error. It’s either all or NOTHING. You see, we have a vested interest in seeing justice served…on a professional level AND a financial one. This idea of bail bonding companies making hand over fist and living the good life is simply a fantasy. We take on huge liability…100% of the responsibility…and operate under the most scrutiny.

What happens with the new Bail Reform Act?

Under the new law, the defendant must first go to jail for up to 48 hours to be “assessed” by a pretrial services employee using a computerized “risk assessment tool”. Each defendant is scored a numerical number which identifies the defendants likelihood of failing to appear, committing another crime, etc. Based on how the defendant scores, the recommendation for the defendants level of supervision is made. Depending on the level of supervision, the defendants conditions of release may include no supervision, calling in to pretrial services, drug testing, and home detainment. Starting to get the idea? The pretrial services model promotes releasing defendants with serious crimes with minimal supervision (if any) and depends on law enforcement to apprehend the defendants that fail to appear…all at the expense of the taxpayer.

Pretrial services is unjust and unnecessary. Our constitution guarantees our innocence until proven guilty, yet pretrial services subjects defendants to conditions like drug testing and home detention…all before proven guilty.