Under New Jersey law, when a person is charged with a crime, whether the person is detained or released prior to trial depends on numerous factors. Recently, a New Jersey court discussed when pre-trial detention is appropriate, in a case in which it overturned a prior ruling that a defendant charged with attempted murder should be released while his trial was pending. If you are charged with committing a criminal offense, it is advisable to consult a capable New Jersey criminal defense attorney to discuss your options for fighting to protect your rights.

The Alleged Crime

It is reported that the police were dispatched to the parking lot of a shopping plaza to investigate a shooting. The crowd was dispersing when the police arrived, but they saw multiple cars with bullet holes. Two people were subsequently hospitalized with gunshot wounds. Eventually, an anonymous source advised the police that on the night of the incident, he saw the defendant retrieve a gun from the trunk of his vehicle and begin shooting. Additionally, surveillance footage was obtained that showed the defendant firing a weapon in the direction of the victims.

Allegedly, the defendant was arrested and charged with two counts of attempted murder with a gun. As he had no prior criminal history, his public safety assessment score (PSA) was low. The PSA asked that the defendant be denied pre-trial release regardless, given the serious nature of his crime. The trial court departed from the PSA’s recommendation, however, and issued an order releasing the defendant.

Factors Weighed in Granting Pre-trial Release

In New Jersey, the law allows the State to file a motion for the pre-trial detention of a defendant who is charged with certain crimes. In cases in which the State seeks the pre-trial detention of a defendant that has not been indicted, the court must first assess whether there is probable cause that the defendant committed the charged crime. Further, to demonstrate that pre-trial detention is necessary, the State must produce evidence that is convincing and clear that no amount of bail or nonmonetary conditions could reasonably ensure a defendant’s appearance at court or the safety of the community.

In the subject case, the trial court found that the defendant likely committed the charged offenses but ruled that the State had not shown through clear and convincing evidence that the defendant be detained prior to trial. The appellate court found the trial court’s reasoning to be erroneous, however, in that it failed to weigh the seriousness of the crimes with which the defendant was charged or evaluate the risk the defendant posed to the community. As such, the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling.

Speak to a Proficient Criminal Defense Attorney

Pre-trial release better allows people charged with a crime to participate in their defenses, but in many cases, a person will be unjustly denied release. If you are charged with unlawful possession of a firearm or any other crime, it is critical to retain a New Jersey criminal defense attorney to help you fight for a just outcome. The proficient attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall have the knowledge and resources to help you strive for the best results available under the facts of your case. We can be contacted at 877-450-8301 or through the form online to set up a conference.