Bill Text: NJ S2701 | 2018-2019 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Clarifies pretrial detention and pretrial release provisions in P.L.2014, c.31; designates P.L.2014, c.31 and this bill as the "Restoring Judicial Discretion in Bail Setting Act."

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Republican 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2018-06-11 - Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee [S2701 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2018-S2701-Introduced.html

SENATE, No. 2701

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

218th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JUNE 11, 2018

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  STEVEN V. OROHO

District 24 (Morris, Sussex and Warren)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Clarifies pretrial detention and pretrial release provisions in P.L.2014, c.31; designates P.L.2014, c.31 and this bill as the "Restoring Judicial Discretion in Bail Setting Act."

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning pretrial detention and pretrial release, amending and supplementing P.L.2014, c. 31.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    P.L.2014, c.31 and sections 1 and 2 of P.L.   , c.   (C.        )(pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall be known and cited as the "Restoring Judicial Discretion in Bail Setting Act."

 

     2.    (New section)  The Legislature finds and declares that:

     Bail reform was implemented via a constitutional amendment to the New Jersey Constitution, in addition to enactments by the State Legislature, court rules, and various directives, all of which ultimately moved forward with the general two-part goal of giving prosecutors more power to detain dangerous offenders and also making it less likely that persons on low-level crimes will languish in jail due to inability to afford bail.

     The intent of the constitutional amendment and bail reform was not to entirely remove the discretion of judges, prosecutors, and defendants to request that a monetary condition of bail be set in conjunction with other special conditions or the standard conditions of bail.

     Unfortunately, judicial discretion has been unduly restricted resulting in the near elimination of all monetary conditions of bail, which was not the original intent of the constitutional amendment or bail reform.  In fact, the constitutional amendment directly states that judges will indeed be considering "monetary" bail as they decide the appropriate bails to impose.

     Without the option of monetary bail, and the accountability it can bring in specific cases, the financial burden on local governments has become too great because judges have no other option in the current system but to blanket defendants with correctional technology, intense supervision by local governments, and other liberty-restricting conditions because they cannot offer the option of a financial condition as an alternative or in combination to reduce other liberty restrictions for which local governments must pay.

     The least restrictive form of release should depend on the facts and circumstances of each case, and if a defendant is not preventatively detained, all available legal conditions of release should be a on a level-playing field for judges to impose as they believe appropriate and just.

     The purpose of P.L.     , c.     (C.         )(pending before the Legislature as this bill) is to simply restore judicial discretion in the setting of monetary conditions of bail, which the constitutional amendment did not intend to eliminate, thereby returning the system to what the Legislature and voters ultimately intended it would be while simultaneously reducing the financial burden on the State and local governments. 

 

     3.    (New section)  Restoring Judicial Discretion in Bail Setting.  Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary including but not limited to directives, court rules, State statutes or otherwise, when a prosecutor does not seek to preventatively detain a criminal defendant, a judge setting bail for a defendant may impose any combination of monetary bail and non-monetary conditions which would reasonably assure the person's appearance in court when required, or protect the safety of any other person or the community, or prevent the person from obstructing or attempting to obstruct the criminal justice process.  No restrictions, presumptions, court rules, administrative orders of court, or other laws shall prevent the judges of the State of New Jersey from having discretion to set any combination of monetary bail and non-monetary bail as necessary.  A defendant or prosecutor shall have the right to request a financial condition of bail to be set and receive due consideration upon that request.

 

     4.    Section 1 of P.L.2014, c.31 (C.2A:162-15) is amended to read as follows:

     1.    The provisions of sections 1 through 11 of P.L.2014, c.31 (C.2A:162-15 et seq.) and sections 1 and 2 of P.L.      , c.     (C.         )(pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall be liberally construed to effectuate the purpose of primarily relying upon pretrial release by monetary or non-monetary means to reasonably assure an eligible defendant's appearance in court when required, the protection of the safety of any other person or the community, that the eligible defendant will not obstruct or attempt to obstruct the criminal justice process, and that the eligible defendant will comply with all conditions of release, while authorizing the court, upon motion of a prosecutor, to order pretrial detention of the eligible defendant when it finds clear and convincing evidence that no condition or combination of conditions can reasonably assure the effectuation of these goals. Monetary bail may be set for an eligible defendant only when it is determined that no other conditions of release will reasonably assure the eligible defendant's appearance in court when required.

     For the purposes of sections 1 through 11 of P.L.2014, c.31 (C.2A:162-15 et seq.), "eligible defendant" shall mean a person for whom a complaint-warrant is issued for an initial charge involving an indictable offense or a disorderly persons offense unless otherwise provided in sections 1 through 11 of P.L.2014, c.31 (C.2A:162-15 et seq.).

(cf: P.L.2014, c.31, s.1)

 

     5.    This act shall take effect immediately.

STATEMENT

 

     This bill would supplement the pretrial detention and pretrial release law, P.L.2014, c.31 (C.2A:162-15 et seq.), commonly referred to as criminal justice reform law or bail reform law, to provide for a findings and declarations section.  This bill would also designate P.L.2014, c.31 and this bill as the "Restoring Judicial Discretion in Bail Setting Act."   

     Bail reform was implemented via a constitutional amendment to the New Jersey Constitution, in addition to enactments by the State Legislature, court rules, and various directives. The purpose of bail reform was to give prosecutors more power to detain dangerous offenders and also make it less likely that persons on low-level crimes will languish in jail due to inability to afford bail.

     This bill would provide for a findings and declarations section to P.L.2014, c.31, criminal justice reform law, to emphasize that the intent and purpose of the law is not to eliminate a judge's discretion but rather to strengthen a judge's discretion by allowing any combination of monetary bail and non-monetary bail as necessary.

     As noted in the findings and declarations, judicial discretion has been unduly restricted resulting in the near elimination of all monetary conditions of bail, which was not the original intent of the constitutional amendment or bail reform.  Without the option of monetary bail, and the accountability it can bring in specific cases, the financial burden on local governments has become too great because judges have no other option in the current system but to blanket defendants with correctional technology, intense supervision by local governments, and other liberty-restricting conditions because they cannot offer the option of a financial condition as an alternative or in combination to reduce other liberty restrictions for which local governments must pay.

     The least restrictive form of release should depend on the facts and circumstances of each case, and if a defendant is not preventatively detained, all available legal conditions of release should be a on a level-playing field for judges to impose as they believe appropriate and just.

     The purpose of this bill is to simply restore judicial discretion in the setting of monetary conditions of bail, which the amendment did not intend to eliminate, thereby returning the system to what the Legislature and voters ultimately intended it would be while simultaneously reducing the financial burden on the State and local governments. 

     The bill also provides that, notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary including but not limited to directives, court rules, State statutes or otherwise, when a prosecutor does not seek to preventatively detain a criminal defendant, a judge setting bail for a defendant may impose any combination of monetary bail and non-monetary conditions which would reasonably assure the person's appearance in court when required, or protect the safety of any other person or the community, or prevent the person from obstructing or attempting to obstruct the criminal justice process  No restrictions, presumptions, court rules, administrative orders of court, or other laws shall prevent the judges of the State of New Jersey from having discretion to set any combination of monetary bail and non-monetary bail as necessary.  A defendant or prosecutor shall have the right to request a financial condition of bail to be set and receive due consideration upon that request.

     The bill would also amend section 1 of P.L.2014, c. 31 (C.2A:162-15) to clarify that both monetary and non-monetary bail may be set in conjunction with other special conditions or the standard conditions of bail may.

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