Governor Christie Wants To Change Bail Rules

Under the New Jersey Constitution, everyone but defendants in death penalty cases have the right to release from jail on bail.

Governor Christie has proposed that the Constitution be amended so that New Jersey judges can impose detention without bail for repeat violent offenders.

Judges in federal courts already have the ability to do this, as do state judges in many states. However, because of New Jersey’s constitutional requirement, judges here are not permitted to deny bail even if flight or repeat offense is likely. Instead, their only recourse is to increase the amount of bail a defendant must put up.

Many have argued that the amount of bail imposed by a judge is mostly irrelevant, as defendants never put up their own money. Instead, they seek bail bonds from businesses, which make money putting up bail for defendants in exchange for a high fee.

Those who favor this new rule argue that it is senseless to release repeat offenders while awaiting trial. Studies have shown that one in six defendants released while awaiting trial was arrested for a new offense.

The bail industry and many defense attorneys are against the proposal from Christie. Opponents argue that the cost would be incurred mostly by the state, which would be required to house many more inmates under this requirement. Additionally, defendants’ rights would diminish under the new rule, and many argue it treats defendants as though they were guilty before they have even been tried, a principle which defies the nature and spirit of our Constitution.

This information is not intended to be legal advice.

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