Police in Hoboken, New Jersey, charged two suspects with bail jumping and other offenses, per nj dot com. It all began when the cops went looking for a suspect with warrants at a public housing building. During the investigation, the cops searched the grounds of the residential facility in Hudson County. Eventually, the cops saw the suspect open an apartment door on the fifth floor after a visitor knocked. Therefore, the cops approached. But the suspect allegedly tried to prevent them from entering. Consequently, the cops forcibly entered the unit. In addition to filing charges against the original suspect and the visitor for bail jumping, the cops also pressed charges for heroin possession and cocaine possession.
Bail Jumping, N.J.S.A. 2c:29-7
Under New Jersey law, a person set at liberty by court order, with or without bail, or who has been issued a summons, upon condition that he will subsequently appear at a specified time and place in connection with any offense or any violation of law punishable by a period of incarceration, commits an offense if, without lawful excuse, he fails to appear at that time and place. It is an affirmative defense for the defendant to prove, by a preponderance of evidence, that he did not knowingly fail to appear.1
Thus, to convict an individual of bail jumping, the State must prove in court beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- The defendant was charged with an offense or violation of law punishable by a period of incarceration,
- Defendant was set at liberty by court order, with or without bail, or issued a summons, upon condition that he will subsequently appear at a specified time and place,
- The defendant Knowingly failed to appear at that time and place, and
- This failure to appear was without lawful excuse.2
Nevertheless, case law prohibits judges from instructing jurors of the affirmative defense, by a preponderance of evidence, that the defendant did not knowingly fail to appear. In addition to avoiding juror confusion, this ruling also preserves the defendant’s constitutional right to require the State to prove every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.3
Bail Jumping, Grading
Bail jumping is a crime of the third degree where the required appearance was to answer to a charge of a crime of the third degree or greater, or for disposition of any such charge and the actor took flight or went into hiding to avoid apprehension, trial or punishment.
This offense is a crime of the fourth degree where the required appearance was otherwise to answer to a charge of crime or for disposition of such charge.
Bail jumping is a disorderly persons offense or a petty disorderly persons offense, respectively, when the required appearance was to answer a charge of such an offense or for disposition of any such charge.
Where the bail imposed or summons issued is in connection with any other violation of law, the failure to appear is a disorderly persons offense.
Bail jumping as defined under this statute does not apply to obligations to appear incident to release under suspended sentence or on probation or parole. Nothing herein shall interfere with or prevent the exercise by any court of this State of its power to punish for contempt.
New Jersey Lawyer Michael Smolensky, Esquire, knows how to protect his clients. A charge of Bail Jumping calls for an aggressive defense, and Mr. Smolensky can provide consultations for all such cases. Call Now—(856) 812-0321.
1 N.J.S.A. 2c:29-7
2 State v. Emmons, 397 N.J. Super. 112, 118-19 (App. Div. 2007).
3 Id. at 122-23.