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New Jersey Overhauls Bail, Speedy Trial Systems

In legislation that took effect at the start of 2017, New Jersey seeks to change two important elements of the criminal justice process: the bail process and the speedy trial process, according to a recent article in New Brunswick Today.

Both the right to bail and the right to a speedy trial are recognized by multiple states, some of which even include these rights in their state constitutions. Since their inception, however, problems have arisen with both systems. Bail can pose difficulties to individuals who cannot pay, while courts struggle with how to measure a “speedy” trial and how to guarantee this right without riding roughshod over the importance of holding a trial in which the evidence and arguments are properly prepared.

New Jersey’s new bail system parallels one used by the federal courts and in Washington, D.C. Rather than setting cash bail as a matter of course, the system asks the court to use a rubric to assign a Public Safety Assessment (PSA) score. The score helps the court determine whether or not it is appropriate to release the accused person before trial.

The speedy trial reforms do not set specific deadlines on when a trial must occur. Rather, they weigh factors like the length and reason for a delay, the risk of prejudice to the accused person from the delay, and whether or not the accused person has asserted their speedy trial right. The purpose of these factors is to help the court determine whether or not the right to a speedy trial has been violated. The new law also requires courts to ensure an accused person sees a judge within 48 hours of arrest.

Are you facing criminal charges in New Jersey? Don’t wait: contact an experienced New Jersey criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you protect your legal rights and fight the charges you face.