Criminal procedures, policies, and laws are regularly reviewed and updated to adapt to our changing society. In New Jersey, lawmakers, courts, and voters can have the opportunity to be a part of reforming our state’s criminal justice system. As of January 1, 2017, two important procedural reforms will become effective for criminal cases and it is important to be aware of your rights under the reformed policies.
Right to a Speedy Trial
The criminal process is not a swift one. In fact, many cases can take months to resolve and cases involving particularly serious offenses can take years to reach a verdict. During this time, many people wait in jail. People may remain incarcerated throughout their case if they cannot pay their bail. Often, a judge will set a high bail if a person is considered to be a flight risk or a risk to the safety of the public. If bail cannot be paid, a defendant will wait behind bars until their case is complete.
Under reformed policies, there are stricter requirements for a court to uphold a defendant’s right to a speedy trial if they are incarcerated during this time. Specifically, the following will apply:
- An indictment must be issued within 90 days
- A trial must commence within 180 days from the indictment
- Attorneys may only hold a maximum of two conferences to determine the status of a case before a trial. In limited circumstances, a judge may approve a third.
These new speedy trial procedures aim to avoid people who have not yet been convicted sitting behind bars for months or years.
New Bail Considerations
Many people sit in jail during their cases because they cannot afford bail, even if their bail is only $500. Financial hardship definitely results in many nonviolent offenders unnecessarily spending an extended period of time behind bars. For this reason, NJ has changed bail considerations and the way pretrial releases are granted. Judges will need to examine whether a person is actually a risk when deciding when to set bail and when to release them with a summons to return to court. This will hopefully significantly reduce the number of offenders in jail simply because they cannot pay a minimal bail.
Call 732-662-7658 today for a free consultation.
The Law Offices of Leon Matchin stays aware of all new developments in the New Jersey criminal justice system. If you need help with any type of criminal case, please contact our office today for help.