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Bail recommendations could change state's criminal defense system

One of the hardest things for a person accused of committing a crime to do is to wait for his or her day in court. Like citizens all across the United States, New Jersey residents are considered innocent until evidence is offered against them that proves their guilt. For some of those individuals, getting to court to defend themselves can take a very long time.

A committee of more than two dozen New Jersey lawmakers and legal practitioners has recently released a set of recommendations that could change how suspects are treated before their criminal trials begin. If these recommendations become state law it could mean some significant changes to the criminal defense process.

First, the committee has recommended that judges put the community's safety before monetary considerations in setting bail for a suspect. This would mean that bail could be set significantly higher for those individuals accused of committing serious, violent crimes while people accused of non-violent crimes may have lower bails.

Second, the committee would like to see the state establish a monitoring system that would keep tabs on suspects who have been released on bail. The system would check to see if such individuals were committing more crimes while out of jail for prior criminal charges.

Finally, under the recommendations of the committee suspects who are not incarcerated will have to have their trials within one year of their indictments. Suspects who are incarcerated would have to have their trials within six months of their indictments.

While these recommendations are simply guidance at this time, there is a chance they could become state law. Changing bail requirements could impact the long-term consequences that many suspects experience when they are held in prison before their trials. Individuals who have questions about these recommendations can always reach out to a New Jersey criminal defense attorney to learn more about the criminal justice system.

Source:, "NJ Supreme Court committee urges historic changes to state's bail system," Thomas Zambito, March 20, 2014