Hackensack NJ Detention Hearing Attorneys

If a defendant has a detention hearing, then they are looking at a serious court date in the near future. Before we get into a detention hearing, it is important to understand that New Jersey did away with bail on January 1, 2017. Therefore, for Superior Court matters, a defendant’s release from the Bergen County Jail will be factored into what’s called a Public Safety Assessment (PSA). The PSA calculates on an algorithm based on other defendants past cases, as well as your past case(s) (if any) and your current case. However, once a defendant is arrested they have a constitutional right to see a Judge within forty-eight (48) hours.  The underline purpose of setting a PSA score is to create a surety that the defendant will appear at trial, not obstruct justice, and not commit any new criminal activities. In addition, the Judge must determine a defendants release on case by case basis. With that being said, there are certain guidelines which a Judge must follow. Typically only the more serious charges like aggravated assault, assault by auto, robbery, burglary, unlawful possession of a weapon, heroin distribution, cocaine possession, possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute and theft by deception are typically not released on their own recognize (“ROR”). Usually with these types of cases, the defendant will be released on certain conditions called pretrial monitoring level (PML). The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall has been successfully reducing defendants bail throughout Bergen County for over fifteen years.   We have eleven criminal defense attorneys on staff, including four former assistant county prosecutors. If you or someone you know is in need a of a bail hearing please contact any one of our Bergen County Offices for a free initial consultation.

What is a Detention Hearing?

A detention hearing is something the prosecutor’s office will file on behalf of the State. The prosecutor has an absolute right to file a detention motion on certain cases. These cases include all indictable (felony) offenses, as well as domestic violence cases (including disorderly persons and petty disorderly persons offenses). If a prosecutor files a motion to detain, then the prosecutor will get three (3) business days to prepare for the motion. Under the bail reform law, the Judge nor a defense attorney can contest the filing of a motion to detain or the three business days the prosecutor gets to prepare for the detention hearing.

A detention motion is simply the prosecutor seeking to detain the defendant in jail pending the outcome of the case. This means that if a defendant loses his/her detention hearing, he/she will stay in jail until the case is resolved, i.e. a plea, a dismissal, or a trial. If a defendant is detained, then the right to a speedy trial kicks in. A defendant then has the right to have his/her case presented to a Grand Jury within ninety (90) days to be indicted or no billed. If an indictment is returned by the Grand Jury, a defendant then has the right to have a trial within one-hundred and eighty (180) days.

How to Defend a Detention Hearing

A defendant, through their attorney, can defend a motion to detain. A defense attorney at a detention hearing will usually utilize the following arguments:

  1. The Public Safety Assessment Score
    • The PSA scores a defendant on a scale of 1 to 6. One being the lowest, and the best for the defendant, and 6 being the highest, and the worst for a defendant. There are two categories that a defendant will receive this score on. One is called Failure to Appear, and the other is New Criminal Activity.  If the defendant’s score is low, a defense attorney will likely bring that to the judge’s attention, and argue that the defendant will appear for court, as well as not commit any new criminal activity if released.
  2. Pretrial Services Recommendation to the Court
    • Pretrial Services makes a recommendation to the Court based off the PSA score, and other factors in the PSA. Typically, if the score is low, they will recommend the defendant be ROR, or released on conditions. Even if a score is on the higher end, it is not uncommon for pretrial services to recommend some kind of released. However, even if a defendant scores a 1/1, depending on the charge (such as aggravated sexual assault, murder or unlawful possession of a handgun) pretrial services will recommend to the judge that the defendant not be released.
  3. The Outcome will likely not result in a conviction
    • A defense attorney can argue at the detention hearing that the charge(s) will likely not result in a conviction. This can be argued for a number of reasons. The most common are a faulty stop and/or search of the vehicle conducted by the police. Evidence that tends to negate the charge(s) or exculpate the defendant can also be argued. For example, if the charge is for armed robbery here in New Jersey, but the defendant purchased a bus ticket in California on the day of he robbery, this tends to exculpate that the defendant participated in the robbery.
  4. The State Cannot Overcome the Presumption of Defendant’s Release
    • It is presumed that the defendant should be released except when the charge carries a sentence of life in prison. Charges such as murder, and aggravated sexual assault carry life in prison. The prosecutor, in order to successfully detain the defendant, must prove by clear and convincing evidence that there is no condition that the defendant will either show up for court, obstruct justice, and/or commit new criminal activity.
  5. The Background of the Defendant Supports Release
    • A defendant’s attorney can also argue that based on the defendant’s ties to the community he will show up to court, not obstruct justice and not commit any new criminal activity. A defense attorney will likely argue that the defendant has ties to the community. This means that the defendant either resides in New Jersey, and/or has family or friends that reside in New Jersey. They can also argue that the work in New Jersey, and/or that the defendant needs to work in order to provide for their child/children, to pay their mortgage, and their bills. If the defendant does not have a criminal background, or has not picked up new charges in a long time, this is also something a defense attorney can make the court aware of. Lastly, a defendant can argue that his/her family, friend, or spouse, will serve as a custodian for the defendant.

What is Pretrial Monitoring?

A defendant can be released on their own recognizance. This is the best standard for a defendant to be released from jail. It simply means that the defendant is required to show up at all court dates, not obstruct justice, and not pick up any new charges. The next best release is PML 1. PML 1 requires a defendant to report once a month to probation, usually by phone. The next release is PML 2. PML 2 requires a defendant to report to probation twice a month. Then there is PML 3, which requires a defendant to report every week. Typically, it’s once via telephone, and once in person. Lastly, there is PML 3+, which is commonly known as house arrest. With PML 3+ a defendant will typically have an ankle monitor, and required to stay within the confines of their home. On some occasions, a defendant is permitted to travel to and from work, as well as attend religious services.

Powerful Bergen County Criminal Defense Firm

The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall is a well established criminal defense firm. We have over 200 years of combined experience on staff, including over twenty-five years of prosecuting experience. We have been reducing individuals bail throughout Bergen County in towns like Fort Lee, Elmwood Park, Garfield, Montvale, Palisades Interstate Park, East Rutherford, Lodi and Englewood for over fifteen years. We fully understand that this can be an extremely stressful time, so if you or someone you know needs some assistance please contact any one of our Bergen County Offices for a free consultation with any one of our eight criminal defense trial attorneys.