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What happens at a bail hearing with a criminal defense lawyer in New Jersey?

What Happens at a Bail Hearing with a Criminal Defense Lawyer in New Jersey?

If you or a loved one have been arrested and charged with a crime in New Jersey, one of the first things you’ll need to do is attend a bail hearing. This initial hearing is critical, because it will determine whether you get released from jail before your trial, or whether you’ll need to stay locked up until your case gets resolved. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer by your side during the bail process can make all the difference.

Getting arrested is scary, no doubt about it. The uncertainty about what happens next can feel overwhelming. Try to stay calm, and focus on taking it one step at a time. The bail hearing is your first chance to get out of jail, so it should be your top priority.

How Bail Works in New Jersey

New Jersey used to have a cash bail system, where defendants would have to pay money to the court in order to get released before trial. But in 2017, the state passed a big law called the Bail Reform Act that got rid of cash bail. Now judges decide whether to release defendants based on how much of a risk they pose to public safety and whether they seem likely to return to court when they’re supposed to.

The main options at a bail hearing are:

  • Release on Own Recognizance (ROR) – The judge lets you out without having to pay any money or follow any special conditions.
  • ROR with Conditions – The judge lets you out but requires you to follow rules like curfews, drug testing, electronic monitoring, etc.
  • Detention – The judge orders you to stay in jail until your trial.

Judges are supposed to prefer letting defendants out over keeping them detained whenever possible. But prosecutors can ask for detention in cases where they think the defendant is dangerous or a flight risk. The judge will look at factors like the seriousness of the charges, your criminal history, any probation violations, and your ties to the community when deciding on bail.

The Timing of the Bail Hearing

After you get arrested, the police have to bring you before a judge for your first appearance within 48 hours. This is when the bail hearing happens. The clock starts ticking from the moment of your arrest, so it’s important to get a lawyer involved as soon as possible to start preparing.

Some key events leading up to the bail hearing include:

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
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Brendan huisman
Brendan huisman
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
Keisha Parris
Keisha Parris
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
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Loveth Okpedo
Very professional, very transparent, over all a great experience
Bee L
Bee L
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divesh patel
divesh patel
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.
  • The police take you to the county jail for booking and processing.
  • Within 24 hours, you’ll go before a Superior Court judge for your first appearance via video conference from the jail. This is mainly to confirm your identity and make sure you understand your rights.
  • Within 48 hours total from arrest, you’ll have the full bail hearing where the judge decides on whether to release you or not.

Having an experienced criminal lawyer with you from the moment of arrest can really increase your chances of getting released quickly at the bail hearing.

How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help at the Bail Hearing

A skilled criminal defense attorney can advocate for your release at the bail hearing in several key ways:

  • Review the charges and police reports to highlight any weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case against you.
  • Gather information about your background, employment, family ties, and other factors showing you’re not a flight risk.
  • Contact references who can testify about your good character and community ties.
  • Argue to the judge about why you should be released on your own recognizance or with minimal conditions.
  • Push back against a prosecutor’s request for detention by emphasizing the presumption of innocence.

Having a lawyer who knows how to navigate New Jersey’s bail system can make all the difference at this critical stage. An experienced attorney will know the right things to say and the best legal arguments to make on your behalf.

What Happens if the Judge Sets Bail?

If the judge decides not to release you on your own recognizance at the hearing, they may set a monetary bail amount as a condition of release. This used to be much more common in New Jersey before the 2017 bail reform law. Now it only happens in limited circumstances, but it’s still a possibility.

If the judge does set bail, you’ll have three choices:

  1. Pay the full bail amount in cash to the court.
  2. Use a bail bondsman to post a bond for 10% of the bail amount.
  3. Remain in jail until your trial.

Coming up with enough money to pay the full bail amount is difficult for most people. This is where a bail bondsman comes in handy. You pay a nonrefundable fee to the bondsman, usually 10% of the total bail set by the judge. The bondsman posts a bond for the full bail amount, allowing you to get released from jail. You get your freedom, and the bondsman gets his fee.

If you can’t afford the fee for a bondsman, you may be able to get the bail amount lowered by requesting a bail review hearing. Your criminal defense lawyer can file this motion on your behalf.

What if the Judge Orders Detention?

If the judge orders you to be detained at your bail hearing, it means you’ll have to stay in jail until your criminal case gets resolved or until you successfully appeal the detention order. Obviously, this is the worst case scenario. But it happens in cases where the charges are very serious or the judge thinks the defendant poses too much of a public safety risk.

If you end up getting detained, your criminal defense lawyer can file an appeal asking for the detention order to be reversed. They may be able to convince the appeals judge that the lower court made a mistake in not releasing you. Detention orders get overturned on appeal fairly often, so this strategy does sometimes work.

You can also request a new bail hearing if your lawyer uncovers new information that might change the judge’s mind about releasing you. For example, if your attorney finds people willing to testify about your reliability or gets evidence showing weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case, they can ask for a fresh bail hearing.

Violating the Conditions of Your Release

If the judge releases you on certain conditions, like drug testing or electronic monitoring, it’s extremely important to follow those conditions exactly. Any violations could land you back in jail until your trial. Your criminal defense lawyer can advise you on the best ways to comply so you don’t end up getting detained again unnecessarily.

Some common pretrial release conditions include:

  • Drug and alcohol testing
  • Electronic monitoring (ankle bracelet)
  • House arrest or curfew
  • No contact with alleged victims or witnesses
  • Regular check-ins with pretrial services

Pretrial services will monitor your compliance with whatever conditions the judge imposes. Small technical issues like missing an appointment can sometimes be sorted out without going back before the judge. But major violations will likely result in your bail being revoked.

The Importance of Legal Representation

Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer guide you through the bail process in New Jersey makes all the difference. The initial hearing is your first chance at freedom, so you need someone who knows the system and how to advocate effectively on your behalf.

A knowledgeable attorney will review the charges and evidence against you, gather information about your background, contact references willing to testify about your reliability, argue for your release, and file appeals if the judge initially orders detention. Without quality legal representation, your chances of getting out of jail before trial will be much lower.

If you or someone you care about winds up facing criminal charges in New Jersey, getting a criminal defense lawyer involved at the earliest possible moment is absolutely critical. Don’t leave your freedom up to chance. The bail hearing sets the tone for your entire case, so be sure to have an experienced attorney by your side.

The lawyers at [Law Firm Name] have extensive experience with New Jersey’s bail system. We know how to effectively advocate for our clients’ release at bail hearings throughout the state. If you need guidance during this challenging time, please give us a call. We’re here to help.


Here are some helpful resources with more information on New Jersey bail hearings and pretrial release:

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