What Is The Process Of Bail In New Jersey?
In many cases, a person is released on their own recognizance, while in other cases, there will be what’s called a 10% bail, which means they will ask for $50,000 bail, but they will give you an option to put down 10% as a deposit and you’ll only be responsible for the full bail if the person takes off; at the end of the case, if you attend every hearing, you get all of your money back, whether you’re guilty or not.
If there is no 10% option, your only recourse is to go to a bail bondsman, who will also take 10% down and not collect the rest unless you walk on the bail; the difference is, a bail bondsman will take that 10% as a fee, so you’re out $5,000.
What Is The Criminal Process After I Get Out Of Jail?
The first conference in a criminal matter is what’s called the arraignment. In which the judge tells you what charges you face, the punishment you face and then they’ll ask for your plea, at which point most people say “not guilty” and the case goes on. You’re not entitled to a lawyer prior to the arraignment, but once you plead not guilty, you are. Then, there will be a series of status conferences and, in some courts, there will be a pre-indictment calendar where, before the state goes to all the work of getting a grand jury to indict you, they won’t give you a lot of discovery, but they will usually offer what they consider the fairest deal based on their view of the case.
If you get past the pre-indictment part and decide that you won’t litigate, that there are issues in the case that you want to see resolved, so you will have another series of status conferences where the judge will discuss the issues with the attorneys, whether more evidence is required or other investigations need to happen or whether there are motions that need to make. At some point, the judge will say he sees enough and will set the case for trial, which is where the fun really starts; picking a jury and getting into the meat of the trial process. It’s also the most expensive part of the case.
Once you are at the trial stage that is where mistakes of the state become irreversible and where the repercussions become real. No longer are we talking theoretically about going to jail; it’s about witnesses going before the jury and being cross-examined, and there are things you learn at trial that you never knew before. Cases always change at trial, which is why both the state and the defendant don’t want a trial, and that’s why there are very few trials; sometimes, things that you think will be proven at trial are not, or the jury won’t find things that you thought important to be as important as you assumed.
A jury may not believe the police officer, but in many cases, you will be dealing with the judge as a jury, which makes things a bit more difficult because the judge is essentially a professional juror. However, there are also other tracks that the case can go down; your attorney can work out a plea that is in your best interests, and you take it without taking the case to trial, which means you give up the right to cross-examine witnesses, you give up the right to make the state prove its case and you will get something for that. It may not be everything you want, and you may not walk out a free person but it may also mean that you are getting something for it. It’s not as bad as if you went to trial and lost.
Then you get to the sentencing phase. At that point, after you’ve given your plea and you’ve waived all your rights, the judge will order a sentencing report from the Department of Probation, which will interview the defendant, look into their past history and evaluate who that person really is before the court and that will guide the judge as to whether to abide by the prosecutor’s sentencing recommendation and depart downward or upward. Once the judge offers that sentence, the defendant can always pull out of the deal, but usually, the judge will go along with the prosecutor’s sentence because he knows that departing from that sentence may mean no plea and possibly a trial.
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