The Trainor Law Firm, PC

Should Prosecutors Disclose Evidence Prior to Jailing Defendants?

A state legislator states that prosecutors should be required to initially disclose more evidence when requesting that a judge imprison individuals who are accused of crimes. There is a disagreement before New Jersey’s Supreme Court on the hearings where judges will determine whether to order defendants jailed while they wait for their case to go to trial.

The criminal justice system in New Jersey witnessed major changes this year that eliminated cash bail. According to the new system, judges can order that a defendant be held without bail if they present a flight risk or menace to the community. The changes were intended to permit judges to order violent criminals held until trial while preventing poor, low-level defendants from remaining in jail because they were unable to afford bail.

However, since the new system requires a modification of New Jersey’s constitution to permit accused criminals to be ordered held without bail prior to their conviction, the reforms mandated that judges hold a pretrial detention hearing before evaluating the evidence against an individual when prosecutors asked that they be put in prison. Just last week, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a disagreement regarding the rules of evidence in these types of hearings. According to defense attorneys, prosecutors were requesting that judges order defendants to be jailed on the basis of affidavits and preliminary reports without providing the documents or evidence in the form of photos and video.

Prosecutors contended that since the detention hearings must be held on short order, they did not have sufficient time to look over the documents to make certain that none of them could endanger the safety of witnesses or was privileged in some other way. Senator Ronald Rice (D-Essex) stated to NJ Advance Media that he is on the side of the defense attorneys. He said that the prosecution should not be able to select which evidence it reveals, and which evidence it keeps from the defendant or the court, when attempting to imprison someone with no chance to be freed prior to trial.

If you were arrested, and are in need of legal counsel, call the criminal defense attorneys at William J. Connelly, III for a consultation about your case.