Pre-Trial Detention And Release
On January 1, 2017, New Jersey’s Bail Reform Statute took effect. This statute, which limits the situations that defendants can be held in pre-trial detention, is essential in granting veterans, and everyone, with or without a criminal history, the opportunity to await trial in their home and community, rather than in jail. Of course, most Veterans do not have records.
Under the new statute, whether the defendant is released until their court date, held on monetary bail (now very unusual), or held without bail is determined by the court based on several factors. First, the court can use the release recommendation of the pretrial service program, obtained using a risk assessment instrument. This instrument uses an algorithm to determine the defendant’s flight risk and threat to the community and is one tool the court can use in making their decision. The court can also evaluate the nature and circumstances of the offense, the weight of evidence against the defendant, the nature of the danger the defendant may pose to the community, the risk of obstructing the criminal justice process, and the defendant’s history and characteristics, including their character, physical and mental condition, employment, and community ties.
Courts have wide discretion.
If the court grants the defendant pre-trial release, it can mandate certain conditions the defendant must comply with. These conditions can include, but are not limited to, the requirement to
- remain in custody of a designated person
- maintain or actively seem employment
- comply with travel restrictions or a specified curfew
- report to a designated agency
- refrain from possessing a firearm or using alcohol
- undergo medical, psychological, or psychiatric treatment
These requirements not only ensure that the defendant is not a flight risk or a threat to the community; they can also assist the defendant in rebuilding his or her life.
Pre-trial release, when implemented with requirements tailored to the defendant’s needs, is especially helpful for veterans who are dealing with mental health issues or substance dependency. These symptoms are often connected to trauma connected to the veteran’s military service, and the root causes cannot be treated while the veteran sits in jail. Services like medical, psychological, or psychiatric treatment can help the veteran cope with symptoms of PTSD, depression, or other health issues that may have prompted the offense. Likewise, support from their family, friends, or coworkers is often crucial in preventing recidivism.
The pre-trial release system aims to ensure that veterans, especially those without a criminal history, are not held behind bars any longer than required.
The following information should not be viewed as legal advice. Contact us at Veteran@CitizenSoldierLaw.com or other competent counsel.