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What Happens at a Camden, New Jersey Detention Hearing?


7/15/2019

The Camden criminal justice system moves rapidly once you’re arrested, with important decisions being made in the blink of an eye. Before you know, you could find yourself in jail for several months simply because you didn’t understand what was happening.

At Wimmer Criminal Defense Law, we know how overwhelming it can be to be arrested and charged with a crime. That’s why we work with our clients to make sure they understand exactly what is happening so that they can understand their options. If you’ve been arrested and don’t know what to do, call Camden, New Jersey criminal defense lawyer Lauren Wimmer at 215-712-1212 to schedule a free consultation.

What is a Detention Hearing?

Any time you are arrested for a crime, there is a risk that you could spend time in jail until your trial is heard or your case is otherwise disposed of. The detention hearing is held in certain cases to determine whether or not you will have to be held in jail until trial, upon the motion of the prosecutor. You have an opportunity to be heard and argue why you should be released. Unfortunately, you need to understand which factors the court will consider decisive. An experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney can make a strong case as to why you should be released from jail pending your trial.

Bail Reform in New Jersey

It may first be helpful to understand what makes Camden and all of New Jersey unique in terms of how criminal defendants are jailed. As you probably know from television, jail is dependent on whether or not you can “make bail,” and most states still operate on this system. If you are arrested, a bail amount is typically set at your arraignment or bail hearing. At that point, you can either pay the bail amount in cash or get a bail bond, and you will be released from jail until your trial. Your bail will be forfeited if you do not appear for trial, meaning that you will not get back any money you paid. The philosophy behind the bail system is that paying bail discourages defendants from fleeing or committing further crimes.

Unfortunately, you have to stay in jail until your case is concluded if you can’t make bail. As a result, the bail system had an unfair impact on people who didn’t have the resources to pay bail themselves or obtain a bail bond. In addition, there were also concerns that it didn’t actually reduce crime or prevent defendants from fleeing.

In 2017, New Jersey implemented The Bail Reform and Speed Trial Act and did away with the bail system. Under the new system, there is a presumption that criminal defendants will be released pending trial except in certain situations. However, the process is fairly complex, and there are some important aspects that are critical for defendants to understand in order to avoid needlessly going to jail.

When You May Face Jail Time

Whether or not you face jail time will depend on the underlying charge. The underlying charge, along with a variety of other factors, will determine whether or not you are arrested on a summons or a warrant. Generally speaking, if you are arrested on a summons, you will not face jail time. You will be given a date to appear in court and then released.

If you are arrested on a warrant, however, you will be taken into police custody. At that point, a process is triggered that will determine whether or not you will be held in jail. The first step in that process is what is referred to as a public safety assessment (PSA).

The Public Safety Assessment

For some charges, such as murder, jail time may be inevitable. For many other charges, however, the public safety assessment is the first step in the detention process. Pretrial services staff will review a number of factors such as the following:

  • Your prior criminal history
  • The likelihood that you will fail to appear in court
  • The likelihood that you will commit further crimes
  • The nature of the pending charges, particularly whether they involved violence
  • Based on these factors, the staff will then prepare a report to the judge recommending that you be released, what supervision or restriction would be appropriate, or whether you should be held in jail pending trial.

The First Appearance Hearing

Under New Jersey law, you must be brought before a judge within 48 hours of being taken into custody. At the first appearance hearing, both the prosecution and the defendant will have the opportunity to be heard as to whether or not release would be appropriate. After hearing the arguments from both sides and considering the PSA recommendation, the judge will make a decision as to whether or not you should be released and what, if any, supervision and restrictions would be appropriate.

New Jersey law favors that defendants be released. However, at the first appearance hearing, the prosecutor may make a Motion for Detention. The Motion asks the court to order that you be held in jail pending trial. If the prosecution makes a Motion for Detention, the hearing must be held within three to five business days. In their motion, the prosecution must persuade the court that you present a substantial threat to public safety or likely will not return to court and that no condition or restriction can eliminate those risks.

Why You Should Hire a New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer

Unfortunately, too many people wait until they’ve been jailed to hire a lawyer. If you’ve been charged, an experienced criminal defense attorney can argue the facts and the law in your favor to ensure that the prosecution isn’t providing the court with a biased, one-sided story. The prosecution is not on your side and will take full advantage of the fact that you’re not a lawyer.

In addition, it will be much easier to fight your charges if you aren’t in jail. Meeting with your attorney will be much easier. Furthermore, you won’t have to deal with the stigma of being in jail pending your release. It will be easier on you, easier on your attorney, and most importantly, easier on your family. Hiring an attorney as soon as you are charged is the best way to protect your rights and your freedom while you await trial.

Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a New Jersey Defense Attorney

Criminal defense attorney Lauren Wimmer knows the Camden, New Jersey criminal justice system. She fights for her clients every step of the way to make sure they get fair treatment and the best possible result. Don’t let the prosecution send you to jail without a fight – call us at 215-712-1212 or send us an email to schedule your free consultation today.