Evolving Bail System in New Jersey

Bail Hearing Lawyer Moorestown, NJIn the United States, individuals charged with crimes have the right to a fair and speedy trial. Unfortunately, fast and speedy trials are becoming increasingly difficult to accomplish in modern times. For this reason, individuals frequently wait for a month or more to argue their case in court. During this time, some individuals are free to continue living their lives while others are incarcerated until they are found innocent. Bail hearings often determine the fate for those arrested for various crimes. New Jersey is in a unique position of attempting to change the traditional bail system and replace it with a more technical and accurate way of gauging whether an individual should remain in jail until their court date.

Traditional Bail Hearings

When you’ve been arrested for a crime, you are typically taken straight to jail. Within a few days, a judge will preside over your bail hearing to determine an appropriate amount of money required for your release. Those arrested in New Jersey will sometimes be released solely based on a signed promise to return back to court. Judges will release individuals on their own recognizance when they are unlikely to flee, have strong ties to the community or present other factors to the judge that convince them to let you out of jail.

More often, the judge will require individuals to pay a fee to be released. Judges typically utilize bail schedules as a general guideline in determining the bail amount. Bail schedules usually set a bail amount based on the severity of the offense committed. Judges are also free to use their own discretion when assessing an individual’s likelihood of appearing for their future court date. They will typically use factors like your criminal record, reputation within the community, familial and social ties, employment status and financial situation to judge your reliability.

Once bail is posted, you’ll have to pay the court ordered amount to be released from jail or await your court date in jail. Cash bail means that you or a loved one will need to pay the full cash amount of bail in order to be released. A “cash with a 10%” bail amount will only require the payee to post 10 percent of the cash bail, but the payee will be liable for the full cash amount if the individual never attends their court date. Some individuals may consider hiring a bail bondsman to pay their bail fees, but bail bondsmen can cost you more in the long run. If you are able to pay bail, then it’s best to do so upfront.

Concerns with Traditional Bail

While this bail system has been in place for decades, lawmakers and advocacy groups have largely argued that the system creates a bias against those unable to post bail. Senators such as Rand Paul claim that our traditional bail system creates a two-tiered justice system. The wealthy are able to purchase their way to freedom, and the financially unstable are forced to remain in jail until their court date. The New Jersey Drug Policy Alliance published one study in 2013 that indicated over 75 percent of New Jersey’s jail population was awaiting trial at any given moment. Around 40 percent of these imprisoned individuals were jailed simply because they couldn’t afford bail amounts totaling $2,500 or less.

Being imprisoned severely limits an individual’s ability to defend themselves against any charges, and it shifts all power from the individual to the state. Imprisonment prevents individuals from being able to generate income, often limits future employment opportunities and cuts off contact with important social support groups. Research consistently proves that individuals who can’t make bail are more likely to plead guilty.

New Jersey’s New Algorithm Bail System

In an effort to correct the blatantly biased bail system, New Jersey has become the first state to roll out a new algorithm-based bail system statewide. Governor Chris Christie signed the Bail Reform and Speedy Trial Act in an effort to completely eliminate bail. This algorithmic tool predicts an individual’s likelihood of re-offending or failing to appear at their court date. This tool utilizes millions of statistics from around the nation to make an assessment on each individual. The algorithm is named the Public Safety Assessment. Between January 1 and May 31, New Jersey’s jail population has decreased 19 percent. During this time, only eight individuals were held on bail.

How Does the Algorithm Work?

The Public Safety Assessment tool was designed by the Arnold Foundation. The creators analyzed over 1.5 million pre-trial records to make their risk assessments as gender and race neutral as possible. The algorithm does not consider factors like income, employment or education. The algorithm focuses on specific factors like the individual’s age, pending charges, prior misdemeanors and felony convictions, whether convictions were violent, whether the current offense is violent, prior failures to appear in court and previous incarceration sentences. Using these factors, the algorithm generates a score. This score is meant to help create a baseline for courts, but the judge always has the authority to make the final decision.

Opponents of this newer system argue that the Public Safety Assessment algorithm may be biased. ProPublica investigated one tool, Compas, and discovered a shocking trend. The Compas algorithm helps with sentencing decisions, yet it overwhelmingly rated black individuals as higher risk than their white peers. Additionally, the Public Safety Assessment takes a neutral stand on gun possession because of the country’s overall lenient stance on gun regulations.

While New Jersey’s new algorithm scores are not perfect, a growing number of experts agree that the traditional bail system is in desperate need of reform. Ideally, these scores will help judges make more accurate decisions about an individual’s likelihood of appearing at their court date. Time will show whether the Bail Reform and Speedy Trial Act creates more of a balance in the way justice is served throughout New Jersey.

Can You Be Committing a Crime Online?

Internet Crimes Attorney Morristown, NJWhile many people who are involved in felony level cybercrimes have a clear knowledge about the behavior involved in these violations of the law, many people don’t have the proper understanding of the broad range of online crimes that could lead to criminal charges whether at the misdemeanor or the felony level. Knowing about these crimes can help you avoid an unfortunate situation when you are called into the police or accused of violating a crime. There is a broad range of types of computer crimes that can be alleged against an individual and the complexity of this area of the law is increasing in recent years as technology improves.

Online crimes are more prevalent than ever, including the number of victims coming forward with concerns about privacy and the use of online avenues to carry out illegal activity.

The government is now working harder than ever to try to stop these crimes before they start and also making an example out of anyone who is convicted of such a crime.

Since the technology and the laws surrounding it are changing so quickly, it makes it a better chance than ever that you could be accused of committing a crime online. Users of any and all technology have to educate themselves about this complex area of the law and stay mindful of any updates that make it easier for government authorities to track what you’re doing or to investigate you if you’re suspected of committing a crime.

The evidence collected may include mistakes that tie you to a crime you never committed. In any of these situations, lack of knowledge about the law is not a good defense. This could help the prosecution land a conviction.

Federal Computer Crimes

Many traditional crimes can be carried out with the help of a computer. Other crimes, however, exist only on the internet. Some of the most commonly prosecuted cybercrimes that are categorized at the federal level include:

  • Identify theft: such as taking someone’s identifying information for personal use or for sale. This can include, phishing or hacking.
  • Fraud: Any type of fraudulent scam or scheme that is carried out over the internet can be pursued as a federal cyber-crime.
  • Hacking: Accessing a network or computer without permission is categorized as criminal hacking. Related crimes include destroying data, using a virus to attack a system or stealing data.
  • Blackmail: Blackmail schemes may use illegally obtained data or illicit materials.

No matter, how the alleged crime is identified, a person who is accused of such a crime needs to be familiar with their rights and responsibilities. Criminal laws in New Jersey, for example, do not distinguish between misdemeanors and felonies. Rather they classify crimes by degrees and there are a number of different types of criminal allegations that fall under this category. Whether or not someone is being accused under federal or state violations, a computer crime is a serious matter.

What You Need to Know About Investigations of Internet Crimes

The authorities accusing someone of an internet crime will often only do so after they have gathered evidence that seems to indicate that a person was carrying out some type of crime using the internet. This does not necessarily mean that the entirety of the crime was committed online.

Rather it may also include allegations of other crimes, in addition to the commission of a cybercrime because the internet was in some way used to carry out misdemeanor or felony behavior. Knowing the accusations levied against you can help you to figure out the type of crime being alleged and the type of defenses that may be available. It is also important for someone to know that the law enforcement cannot suggest that you commit a crime that you otherwise had no intention of committing.

This could constitute entrapment. All of these details should be recorded in a written fashion in the event that you may be accused of a crime in the future. Sometimes people do not even realize that a behavior or action that they are carrying out online is actually against the law. One such example is spoofing or phishing. This refers to unlawful accessing a computer without authorization and sending emails, falsifying header information in numerous email messages or resending numerous commercial email messages with the purpose of deceiving a recipient. This element of deceit can be difficult for the prosecution to prove but it can also be hard for a defendant to fight back if they are not familiar with their rights.

Accessing stored communication is another common internet crime that many people may not realize they have committed. This crime requires intentionally accessing a facility through which an electronic communication service is provided, without authorization. Again, the prosecution will bear the burden of proof for showing that this person intentionally accessed this material. A first-time offender could be facing serious consequences, however.

Although gambling inside a casino is legal, engaging in the business of betting on a sporting event over the internet is illegal. Using the internet to bet on sports is a federal crime that can be punished as long as two years in prison. Cybercrimes can also carry over into personal relationships. One such example is stalking or electronic harassment. Anyone who uses the internet to abuse, annoy, threaten, or harass a person who receives a communication could lead to criminal consequences upon conviction.

You might not even realize until there’s a police officer at your door or until you’ve been asked to come in and help with an investigation that there are possible charges against you. In these cases, it’s easier for authorities to develop all the information they need without you even realizing what’s happening until you’re charged with an online crime.

As most people know, crimes can be committed in person, online, or even over a mobile device. As more people are using technology to carry out crimes, the government is using all the tools within their power to ferret out these situations. This means that you could end up facing criminal charges even if you believe you didn’t do anything wrong.

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