Pretrial Detention Hearing Factors

The Three Primary Goals of the New Jersey Bail Reform Act

New Jersey, NJ, Bail Reform Act, State Constitution, Article I Paragraph 11, Pretrial Detention Hearing Factors, N.J.S.A. 2A:162-15, N.J.S.A. 2A:162-20, N.J.S.A. 2A:162-21, N.J.S.A. 2A:162-23, N.J.S.A. 2A:162-24Previously I blogged about the New Jersey Criminal Justice Reform and the Bail Reform Act, which took effect on January 1, 2017. Among other things, these legal developments favor, though not exclusively, the pretrial release of eligible defendants. But a prosecutor may file a motion for the court to permit the State to lock up the defendant before trial. Accordingly, the Bail Reform Act provides Pretrial Detention Hearing Factors for the court to consider.

In deciding whether to grant a prosecutor’s motion for pretrial detention, the court must find no amount of monetary bail, non-monetary conditions or combination of monetary bail and conditions would reasonably assure the

  • eligible defendant’s appearance in court when required,
  • protection of the safety of any other person or the community, or
  • eligible defendant will not obstruct or attempt to obstruct the criminal justice process.

Burden of Proof

The court must not grant the prosecutor’s motion unless the court finds clear and convincing evidence that no condition or combination of conditions can reasonably assure the effectuation of the primary goals of the New Jersey Bail Reform Act.1 Furthermore, this heavy burden of proof applies before the court may revoke an eligible defendant’s pretrial release where the defendant violated a restraining order or condition of release, or committed a new crime while on release.2

Additional Procedures

If the court grants the prosecutor’s motion, then the pretrial detention order must include written findings of fact and a written statement of the reasons for the detention.3 Additionally, if the court enters an order against a recommendation in a risk assessment when determining a method of release or setting release conditions, the court must explain this in the document that authorizes the eligible defendant’s release.4 Furthermore, the court must calculate speedy trial deadlines for eligible defendants who are locked up.5

Pretrial Detention Hearing Factors

In rendering its decision, the court may take into account the following factors6:

  1. The nature and circumstances of the offense
  2. The weight of the evidence against the eligible defendant, except that the court may consider the admissibility of any evidence sought to be excluded
  3. The history and characteristics of the eligible defendant, including:
    1. the eligible defendant’s character, physical and mental condition, family ties, employment, financial resources, length of residence in the community, community ties, past conduct, history relating to drug or alcohol abuse, criminal history, and record concerning appearance at court proceedings; and
    2. whether, at the time of the current offense or arrest, the eligible defendant was on probation, parole, or on other release pending trial, sentencing, appeal, or completion of sentence for an offense under federal law, or the law of this or any other state
  4. The nature and seriousness of the danger to any other person or the community that would be posed by the eligible defendant’s release, if applicable
  5. The nature and seriousness of the risk of obstructing or attempting to obstruct the criminal justice process that would be posed by the eligible defendant’s release, if applicable; and
  6. The release recommendation of the pretrial services program obtained using a risk assessment instrument

New Jersey Criminal Lawyer Michael Smolensky, Esquire, knows how to protect his clients. Mr. Smolensky can provide consultations for all cases involving pretrial detention. Call Now—(856) 812-0321.


1 N.J.S.A. 2A:162-15
2N.J.S.A. 2A:162-24
3 N.J.S.A. 2A:162-21(a)
4 N.J.S.A. 2A:162-23(a)(2)
5 N.J.S.A. 2A:162-22
6 N.J.S.A. 2A:162-20