Bill Text: NJ A1910 | 2014-2015 | Regular Session | Introduced

NOTE: There are more recent revisions of this legislation. Read Latest Draft
Bill Title: Implements constitutional amendment providing for pretrial detention of certain criminal defendants; establishes non-monetary bail alternatives for release; authorizes Judiciary to revise fees for certain legal programs and services.*

Spectrum: Slight Partisan Bill (Democrat 6-2)

Status: (Introduced - Dead) 2014-08-04 - Substituted by S946 (3R) [A1910 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2014-A1910-Introduced.html

ASSEMBLY, No. 1910

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

216th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2014 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  JOHN J. BURZICHELLI

District 3 (Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Implements constitutional amendment providing for pretrial detention of certain criminal defendants; establishes non-monetary bail alternatives for release; authorizes Judiciary to revise fees for certain legal programs and services.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel

  


An Act concerning court administration, supplementing Titles 2A and 2B of the New Jersey Statutes, and amending P.L.1995, c.325.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    (New section) The provisions of P.L.     , c.   (C.     ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall be liberally construed to effectuate the purpose of relying upon contempt of court proceedings or criminal sanctions instead of financial loss to ensure the appearance of the defendant, that the defendant will not pose a danger to any person or the community, and that the defendant will comply with all conditions of bail. Monetary bail shall be set when it is determined that no other conditions of release will reasonably assure the defendant's appearance in court and that the defendant does not present a danger to any person or the community.

 

     2.    (New section) Upon the appearance before a court of a defendant charged with an offense, the court shall issue an order that the defendant be:

     a.    released on conditions including the execution of a bail bond pursuant to subsection b. of section 3 of P.L.     , c.      (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill);  

     b.    released on his own personal recognizance; or

     c.    detained pursuant to section 4 of P.L.     , c.      (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

 

     3.    (New section) a. Except as provided under section 4 of P.L.      , c.     (C.     ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), a court shall order the pretrial release of a defendant on personal recognizance when, after considering all the circumstances, the court determines that a defendant will appear as required either before or after conviction and the defendant will not pose a danger to any person or the community, or obstruct or attempt to obstruct justice, and that the defendant will comply with all conditions of release.

     b.    Except as provided under section 4 of P.L.      , c.     (C.     ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), if a court determines that the release described in subsection a. of this section will not reasonably ensure the appearance of the person as required or will endanger the safety of any other person or the community, or will not prevent the person from obstructing or attempting to obstruct the criminal justice process, the court may order the pretrial release of the person:

     (1)  subject to the condition that the person not commit any crime during the period of release and avoid all contact with an alleged victim of the crime and with potential witnesses who may testify concerning the offense; or

     (2)  subject to the least restrictive condition, or combination of conditions, that the court determines will reasonably ensure the appearance of the person as required and the safety of any other person and the community, which may include the condition that the person:

     (a)   remain in the custody of a designated person, who agrees to assume supervision and to report any violation of a release condition to the court, if the designated person is reasonably able to ensure to the court that the defendant will appear as required and will not pose a danger to the safety of any other person or the community;

     (b)  maintain employment, or, if unemployed, actively seek employment;

     (c)   maintain or commence an educational program;

     (d)  abide by specified restrictions on personal associations, place of abode, or travel;

     (e)   report on a regular basis to a designated law enforcement agency, pretrial services agency, or other agency;

     (f)   comply with a specified curfew;

     (g)  refrain from possessing a firearm, destructive device, or other dangerous weapon;

     (h)  refrain from excessive use of alcohol, or any use of a narcotic drug or other controlled substance without a prescription by a licensed medical practitioner;

     (i)   undergo available medical, psychological, or psychiatric treatment, including treatment for drug or alcohol dependency, and remain in a specified institution if required for that purpose;

     (j)   return to custody for specified hours following release for employment, schooling, or other limited purposes;

     (k)  satisfy any other condition that is reasonably necessary to ensure the appearance of the person as required and to ensure the safety of any other person and the community; or

     (l)   be placed in a pretrial home supervision capacity with or without the use of an approved electronic monitoring device.  The costs attributable to the electronic monitoring of an offender shall be borne by the Pretrial Services Unit in the county in which the defendant resides.

     c.    Except as provided under section 4 of P.L.      , c.     (C.     ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), if the court determines that the conditions under subsection b. will not reasonably ensure the appearance of the person as required or will endanger the safety of any other person or the community, or will not prevent the person from obstructing or attempting to obstruct the criminal justice process, the court may set bail for the offense charged in accordance with current statutory law and court rule. 

     d.    The court may at any time amend an order made pursuant to this section to impose additional or different conditions of release.  The court may not impose a financial condition that results in the pretrial detention of the person.

 

     4.    (New section)  a. The court may order the detention of a defendant before trial if, after a hearing pursuant to the section 5 of P.L.      , c.     (C.     ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), the court is clearly convinced that no amount of sureties, non-monetary conditions of pretrial release or combination of sureties and conditions would ensure the defendant's appearance as required, protect the safety of any person or of the community, or prevent the defendant from obstructing or attempting to obstruct the criminal justice process.

     b.    Except where a defendant charged with a crime is subject to a hearing upon the motion of the prosecutor or upon the court's own motion as set forth under paragraphs (1) and (2) of subsection a. of section 5 of P.L.     , c.     (C.     ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), there shall be a rebuttable presumption that some amount of sureties, non-monetary conditions of pretrial release or combination of sureties and conditions would ensure the defendant's appearance as required, protect the safety of the community, and prevent the defendant from obstructing or attempting to obstruct the criminal justice process. 

     c.    A defendant shall have the right to appeal an order of detention before trial to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court, which may make a determination as to whether an amount of sureties, non-monetary conditions of pretrial release or combination of sureties and conditions would assure the defendant's appearance as required, protect the safety of any person or of the community, or prevent the defendant from obstructing or attempting to obstruct the criminal justice process. An appeal filed under this subsection shall be heard and decided no later than 30 days following the initial order of detention.

 

     5.    (New section) a. A court shall hold a hearing to determine whether any condition or combination of conditions set forth under subsection b. of section 3 of P.L.      , c.     (C.     ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) will ensure the defendant's appearance as required, protect the safety of any person or of the community, or prevent the defendant from obstructing or attempting to obstruct the criminal justice process:

     (1)  Upon motion of the prosecutor in a case that involves:

     (a)   a crime enumerated under subsection d. of section 2 of P.L.1997, c.117 (C.2C:43-7.2);

     (b)  an offense for which the maximum sentence is life imprisonment;

     (c)   any indictable offense if the defendant has been convicted of two or more offenses under paragraph (1) or (2) of this subsection. 

     (d)  any indictable offense where the victim is a minor; or

     (e)   any indictable offense enumerated under subsection c. of N.J.S.2C:43-6.

     (2)  Upon motion of the prosecutor or upon the court's own motion, in a case that involves a serious risk:

     (a)   that the defendant will flee;

     (b)  that the defendant will pose a danger to any person or the community; or

     (c)   that the defendant will obstruct or attempt to obstruct justice, or threaten, injure, or intimidate, or attempt to threaten, injure or intimidate, a prospective witness or juror.  

     b.    The hearing shall be held immediately upon the defendant's first appearance unless the defendant, or the prosecutor, seeks a continuance. Except for good cause, a continuance on motion of the defendant may not exceed five days, not including any intermediate Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.  Except for good cause, a continuance on motion of the prosecutor may not exceed three days, not including any intermediate Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.

     During a continuance, the defendant shall be detained, and the court, on motion of the prosecutor or sua sponte, may order that, while in custody, a defendant who appears to be a drug dependent person receive an assessment to determine whether that defendant is drug dependent.

     c.    At the hearing, the defendant has the right to be represented by counsel, and, if financially unable to obtain adequate representation, to have counsel appointed. The defendant shall be afforded an opportunity to testify, to present witnesses, to cross-examine witnesses who appear at the hearing, and to present information by proffer or otherwise. The rules concerning admissibility of evidence in criminal trials shall not apply to the presentation and consideration of information at the hearing. The facts the court uses to support a finding pursuant to section 4 of P.L.      , c.     (C.     ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably ensure the defendant's appearance as required, protect the safety of any person or of the community, or prevent the defendant from obstructing or attempting to obstruct the criminal justice process shall be supported by clear and convincing evidence. The defendant may be detained pending completion of the hearing.

     d.    The hearing may be reopened, before or after a determination by the court, at any time before trial, if the court finds that information exists that was not known to the movant at the time of the hearing and that has a material bearing on the issue whether there are conditions of release that will reasonably ensure the defendant's appearance as required, protect the safety of any person or of the community, or prevent the defendant from obstructing or attempting to obstruct the criminal justice process.

 

     6.    (New section) In determining whether no amount of sureties, non-monetary conditions of pretrial release, or combination of sureties and conditions would ensure the defendant's appearance as required, protect the safety of any person or of the community, or prevent the defendant from obstructing or attempting to obstruct the criminal justice process, the court shall take into account the available information concerning:

     a.    The nature and circumstance of  the offense charged, including whether the offense is a crime enumerated under subsection d. of section 2 of P.L.1997, c.117 (C.2C:43-7.2), is an indictable offense where the victim is a minor, or involves a firearm, explosive, or destructive device;

     b.    The weight of the evidence against the defendant, except that the court may consider the admissibility of any evidence sought to be excluded;

     c.    The history and characteristics of the defendant, including:

     (1)  the defendant's character, physical and mental condition, family ties, employment, financial resources, length of residence in the community, community ties, past conduct, history relating to drug or alcohol abuse, criminal history, and record concerning appearance at court proceedings; and

     (2)  whether, at the time of the current offense or arrest, the defendant was on probation, parole, or on other release pending trial, sentencing, appeal, or completion of sentence for an offense under federal or State law;

     d.    The nature and seriousness of the danger to any person or the community that would be posed by the person's release;

     e.    The release recommendation of the pretrial services agency obtained using a validated risk assessment instrument under section 9 of P.L.      , c.     (C.     ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

 

     7.    (New section)  a.  If a defendant is released on personal recognizance or released on conditions pursuant to section 3 of P.L.      , c.     (C.     ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), the court shall:

     (1)  include a written statement that sets forth all the conditions to which the release is subject, in a manner sufficiently clear and specific to serve as a guide for the defendant's conduct; and

     (2)  advise the defendant of:

     (a)   the penalties for violating a condition of release, including the penalties for committing an offense while on pretrial release; and

     (b)  the consequences of violating a condition of release, including the immediate issuance of a warrant for the person's arrest.

     b.    If the court disapproves a recommendation made in a validated risk assessment instrument when setting release conditions, the release order shall include a written explanation.

 

     8.    (New section) a.  In a detention order issued pursuant to section 4 of P.L.      , c.     (C.     )(pending before the Legislature as this bill), the court shall:

     (1)  include written findings of fact and a written statement of the reasons for the detention; and

     (2)  direct that the person be afforded reasonable opportunity for private consultation with counsel.

     b.    The court may, by subsequent order, permit the temporary release of the person subject to appropriate restrictive conditions, which may include but shall not be limited to State supervision, to the extent that the court determines such release to be necessary for preparation of the person's defense or for another compelling reason.

 

     9.    (New section)  a.  When a defendant charged with a crime enumerated in paragraph (1) of subsection a. of section 5 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        )(pending before the Legislature as this bill) is released from custody before trial, the court, upon a finding that the defendant while on release has willfully violated a restraining order or condition of release designed to protect any person or the safety of the community, or upon a finding of probable cause to believe that the defendant has committed a new crime of the first or second degree while on release, may revoke the defendant's release and order that the defendant be detained pending trial provided that the court is clearly convinced that no condition or combination of conditions that the defendant is likely to abide by would reasonably protect the safety of the community or any person. 

     b.    In addition to revocation of release as authorized by this section, a violation of a condition of pretrial release imposed pursuant to subsection b. of section 3 of P.L.    , c    (C.       )(pending before the Legislature as this bill) or any other law, may subject the defendant to civil contempt, criminal contempt, forfeiture of bail, or any combination of these sanctions and any other sanctions authorized by law.

 

     10.  (New section)  a.  The Administrative Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts shall establish and maintain a Pretrial Services Unit in each county which shall provide pretrial release investigation services to effectuate the purposes of P.L.    , c.    (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     b.    The Pretrial Services Unit established under this section shall be supervised by a Chief Pretrial Services Officer appointed by the Administrative Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts.

     c.    The Pretrial Services Unit shall conduct, prior to a bail hearing or first appearance, an assessment of all criminal defendants for the purpose of making recommendations to the court concerning the appropriate disposition, including whether the defendant shall be: released on his own personal recognizance; released upon execution of a bail bond; released on a condition or combination of conditions set forth under subsection b. of section 3 of P.L.      , c.     (C.     ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill); or any other conditions necessary to effectuate the purposes of P.L.      , c.     (C.     ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill). 

     d.    The pretrial assessment shall be conducted using a validated risk assessment instrument and shall include an examination of the factors set forth in section 5 of P.L.    , c. (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     e.    In addition to the pretrial assessments made pursuant to this section, the Pretrial Services Unit shall monitor each defendant released pursuant to subsection b. of section 3 of P.L.      , c.     (C.     ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) to ensure that the defendant adheres to the condition or combination of the conditions of the defendant's release ordered by the court.

 

     11.  (New section) a. The Supreme Court, subject to the limitations set forth in subsection b. of this section, may adopt Rules of Court to revise or supplement filing fees and other statutory fees payable to the court for the sole purpose of funding:

     (1)  the provision to the poor of legal assistance in civil matters by Legal Services of New Jersey and its affiliates;

     (2)  the development, maintenance and administration of a Statewide digital e-court information system; and

     (3)  the development, maintenance and administration of a  Pretrial Services Unit established in each county.

     b.    All existing filing fees and other statutory fees payable to the court on the effective date of this section shall not be increased more than $50 in the aggregate for each fee beginning on the effective date of this section.

     c.    As used in P.L.     , c.    (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill):

      "Digital e-court information system" shall mean a Statewide integrated system that includes but is not limited to electronic filing, electronic service of process, electronic document management, electronic case management, electronic financial management, and public access to digital court records; and

     "Pretrial Service Unit" shall mean the pretrial service unit established pursuant to section 10 of P.L.     , c.    (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

 

     12.  (New section) The rules proposed pursuant to section 11 of P.L.    , c. (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall be publicly announced by the Supreme Court. On the same day on which the rule or rules are publicly announced, the Supreme Court shall deliver true copies to the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the General Assembly, and the Governor. The Supreme Court shall provide the public with a reasonable opportunity to comment on the proposed rule or rules.  The rule or rules shall take effect on the date provided by the Supreme Court.

 

     13.  (New section)  a.  There is established in the General Fund a dedicated, non-lapsing fund to be known as the "21st Century Justice Improvement Fund," which shall be credited annually with a sum equal to the revenue to be derived annually from the incremental amount of any filing fees or other statutory fees payable to the court that are revised or supplemented pursuant to P.L.     , c.    (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) and the related fee revisions as provided by operation of N.J.S.22A:2-5 and section 2 of P.L.1993, c.74 (C.22A:5-1).  The fund shall be administered by the State Treasurer.  Interest and other income earned on monies in the fund shall be credited to the fund.  Monies credited to the fund shall be appropriated annually and used exclusively for the purposes of funding:

     (1)  the development, maintenance and administration of a Statewide digital e-court information system;

     (2)  the provision to the poor of legal assistance in civil matters by Legal Services of New Jersey and its affiliates; and

     (3)  the development, maintenance and administration of a  Pretrial Services Unit in each county.

     b.    Any amount remaining in the fund after the appropriation of funds as provided in paragraphs (1), (2) or (3) of subsection a. of this section shall be retained by the Judiciary for the sole purpose of developing, maintaining and administering court information technology.  The monies credited to the fund shall not be used for any purpose other than those purposes set forth in P.L.    , c.     (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

 

      14.  (New section) To the extent that sufficient funds are available, monies annually credited in the "21st Century Justice Improvement Fund" shall be allocated pursuant to the following priority:

     a.    The first $15 million credited annually in the fund shall be appropriated annually to the Judiciary to be used to fund the development, maintenance and administration of a Pretrial Services Unit in each county established pursuant to section 10 of P.L.     , c.     (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     b.    From amounts remaining in the fund after the appropriation of funds as provided in subsection a. of this section, an amount not exceeding $17 million shall be appropriated annually to the Judiciary to be used to fund the development, maintenance and administration of a Statewide digital e-court information system, which appropriations shall include amounts necessary to pay all service charges or other costs assessed by financial institutions or other entities for the use of credit cards, debit cards, electronic funds transfer, or any other method deemed feasible by the Administrative Office of the Courts.  An appropriation made pursuant to this section shall not be used to replace appropriations from other sources for Judiciary information technology.

     c.    From amounts remaining in the fund after the appropriation of funds as provided in subsections a. and b. of this section, an amount not exceeding $10.1 million credited annually in the fund shall be appropriated annually to the Department of the Treasury for distribution to Legal Services of New Jersey and its affiliates to facilitate the provision to the poor of legal assistance in civil matters, which shall supplement other funds as may be appropriated from any other source in a fiscal year for the same purpose.  All State funds distributed to Legal Services of New Jersey shall be used exclusively for the provision to the poor of legal assistance in civil matters.

     d.    From amounts remaining in the fund after the appropriation of funds as provided in subsections a., b., and c. of this section, an amount not exceeding $10 million shall be appropriated annually to the General Fund.

     e.    Any amount remaining in the fund after the appropriation of funds as provided in subsections a., b., c. and d. of this section shall be retained by the Judiciary for the sole purpose of developing, maintaining, and administering court information technology. The monies credited to the fund shall not be used for any purpose other than those purposes set forth in P.L.    , c.     (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

 

     15.  Section 6 of P.L.1995, c.325 (C.2B:1-5) is amended to read as follows:

     6.    a.  (1) Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law to the contrary, the [Supreme Court, the Superior Court and the Tax Court, and the various municipal and joint municipal courts when permitted by resolution of the appropriate municipal governing bodies, are] Administrative Director of the Administrative Office of the Courts is authorized to establish systems to accept the payment of filing fees, administrative charges, fines and penalties imposed for violations of Title 39 of the Revised Statutes, civil and criminal fines and penalties [and] , all other judicially imposed financial obligations, and related charges by card based payment, electronic funds transfer, or any other method deemed feasible by the [Supreme Court] Administrative Office of the Courts.

     (2)  The various municipal and joint municipal courts, when permitted by resolution of the appropriate municipal governing bodies, are authorized to establish systems to accept the payment of filing fees, administrative charges, fines and penalties imposed for violations of Title 39 of the Revised Statutes, civil and criminal fines and penalties, all other judicially imposed financial obligations, and related charges by card based payment, electronic funds transfer, or any other method deemed feasible by the Administrative Office of the Courts.

     b.    No person or organization that is a defendant in a criminal matter shall be entitled to offer a credit card for the payment of bail or for the payment of fines or penalties related to the imposition of a sentence, for a crime of the first, second or third degree under Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes.

     c.    If not legally prohibited by an association, financial institution, or [by an] a card issuer, any court or the Administrative Office of the Courts is authorized to assess [and] , collect and pay from receipts service charges [related to] and other costs associated with the collection of filing fees, administrative fees, judicially imposed financial obligations, and related charges owed to [or collected by] the court when credit cards, debit cards [or] , electronic funds transfer systems, or any other methods deemed feasible by the Administrative Office of the Courts are utilized. Alternatively, the Administrative Office of the Courts may pay such service charges and other costs out of the monies appropriated to the Judiciary pursuant to subsection b. of section 14 of P.L.     , c.     (C.          ) (pending before the Legi slature as this bill).

     d.    The Supreme Court of the State of New Jersey [shall] may adopt Rules of Court appropriate or necessary to effectuate the purposes of this section.

(cf: P.L.1995, c.325, s.6)

 

     16.  (New section)  Not later than the sixth month after the end of each State fiscal year, the Administrative Director of the Courts shall submit a report to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the General Assembly describing the Judiciary's use of funding pursuant to sections 10 through 18 of P.L.    , c.    (C.         ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) and the Judiciary's progress toward the development and deployment of a Statewide digital e-court information system and the development and maintenance of the Pretrial Service Unit.

 

     17.  (New section) Not later than the sixth month after the end of each State fiscal year, Legal Services of New Jersey, through the Department of the Treasury, shall submit to the Governor, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the General Assembly, and the State Auditor a detailed financial statement describing how funds appropriated in the prior fiscal year pursuant to P.L.    , c.    (C.         ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) were used for the provision to the poor of legal assistance in civil matters.  The use of public funds appropriated to Legal Services of New Jersey shall be subject to oversight by the State Auditor.

 

     18.  (New section)  a.  The authority of the Supreme Court to revise or supplement filing fees and other statutory fees payable to the court pursuant to sections 11 and 12 of P.L.    ,  c.    (C.         ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall expire on the first day of the seventh month next following the date of enactment of those sections, except that any filing fees and other statutory fees payable to the court that have been revised or supplemented pursuant to those sections shall continue in effect, subject to the provisions of this section.

      b.    Within 30 days of the fifth anniversary of the effective date of the Rules of Court first adopted pursuant to P.L.    , c.    (C.         ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), and additionally within 30 days of the tenth anniversary of that effective date, the Court may review all filing fees and other statutory fees revised or supplemented pursuant to P.L.    , c.   (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) through its rulemaking process, which includes a reasonable opportunity for public comment, to determine if the fees should remain unchanged as originally adopted pursuant to P.L.    , c.   (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) or be reduced to reflect the funding needs associated with developing, maintaining and administering the Statewide digital e-court information system; and

     c.    On or after five years following the effective date of the Rules of Court first adopted pursuant to P.L.    , c.    (C.         ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), if the annual grants provided to Legal Services of New Jersey by the Board of Trustees of the Income on Non-Interest Bearing Lawyers' Trust Accounts (IOLTA) Fund of the Bar of New Jersey, as established and operated pursuant to the Rules of Court, for use by Legal Services of New Jersey and its affiliates, equal or exceed $25 million based on the most currently available information from the Supreme Court or as indicated in the most recently published annual report by the trustees, then beginning with the fiscal year next following the fiscal year in which the grants equaled or exceeded $25 million:

     (1)  The monies to be annually credited to the "21st Century Justice Improvement Fund" established by section 13 of P.L.    , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) for appropriation to the Department of the Treasury for distribution to Legal Services of New Jersey and its affiliates pursuant to subsection b. of section 4 of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall no longer be credited to the "21st Century Justice Improvement Fund."  The remainder of any monies in the "21st Century Justice Improvement Fund" that exceeds $17 million, as set forth in subsection a. of section 4 of P.L.    , c.   (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), shall be deposited in the General Fund; and 

     (2)  All filing fees and other statutory fees revised or supplemented pursuant to P.L.    , c.   (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall be reduced so that the fees payable to the court shall total no more than $17 million annually and, pursuant to subsection a. of section 4 of P.L.   , c.   (C.       ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), shall be used to fund the development, maintenance and administration of the Statewide digital e-court information system.

 

     19.  Sections 1 through 6 and 8 through 9 of this act shall take effect immediately but shall remain inoperative until the date of approval by the voters of a constitutional amendment to Article I, paragraph 11 of the New Jersey Constitution authorizing the courts to deny pretrial release of certain defendants; sections 7 and 10 of this act shall take effect on the first day of the third month following enactment; sections 11 and 12 shall take affect immediately; and sections 13 through 18 shall take effect on July 1, 2014. 

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill reforms the manner in which bail determinations in criminal cases are made in this State, and authorizes the Supreme Court to adopt Rules of Court to revise or supplement filing fees and other statutory fees in order to fund certain legal programs and services. 

     Under the sections pertaining to bail reform, the bill implements an amendment to the New Jersey State Constitution which modifies the constitutional right to bail and authorizes courts to deny pretrial release of certain offenders. The sections of the bill pertaining to pretrial detention are to remain inoperative until the enactment of an amendment to Article I, paragraph 11 of the New Jersey State Constitution authorizing the courts to deny pretrial release to certain defendants.

     The criteria and procedure to be followed by a court in denying pretrial release are outlined under the provisions of the bill. Upon a motion by the prosecutor, the court is to hold a hearing to determine whether to order the detention of the defendant if that defendant is charged with: (1) a crime under the No Early Release Act, (2) an offense for which the maximum sentence is life imprisonment, (3) an indictable offense if the defendant has been convicted of two or more crimes under the No Early Release Act or for which the maximum sentence is life imprisonment, (4) an indictable offense for which the victim is a minor, or (5) a crime that imposes a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment and parole ineligibility under the "Graves Act."  In addition, the bill provides that a court may hold a detention hearing upon a motion of the prosecutor or the court in any case that involves a serious risk the defendant will flee, obstruct or attempt to obstruct justice, or threaten, injure, or intimidate a prospective witness or juror.  The bill sets forth a presumption that a defendant will not be detained prior to trial unless that defendant meets the above criteria necessary for a detention hearing. 

     The bill requires that a detention hearing be held immediately upon the defendant's first appearance before the court unless the court orders a continuance. During a continuance, a defendant may, by motion of the court or the prosecution, receive an assessment to determine whether the defendant is a drug dependant person.  During the hearing, a defendant is afforded the right to be represented by counsel, have an opportunity to testify, to present witnesses, and to cross-examine witnesses who appear at the hearing.

     In determining whether to deny pretrial release, the bill requires a court to take into account the nature and circumstances of the offense charged, the weight of the evidence against the defendant, and certain criteria regarding the history and characteristics of the defendant which are enumerated under the bill.  The bill further requires that a defendant who is subject to detention receive a written detention order that sets forth the reasons for the detention, and directs that the defendant be afforded a reasonable opportunity to privately consult with an attorney.  The bill also affords a defendant the right to appeal an order of detention before trial to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court. An appeal filed by the defendant is required to be heard and decided no later than 30 days following the initial order of detention.

     In addition, this bill provides a court with non-monetary release alternatives to setting bail for defendants charged with a crime to ensure that a defendant appears for trial.   If a court determines that a defendant should not be released on his or her own recognizance, but does not pose a threat to any person or the community, the court may impose one or a combination of non-monetary release conditions set forth in the bill in place of setting bail.  

     The bill requires that a defendant who is released on personal recognizance or released with conditions receive a written notice advising the defendant of the release conditions and the consequences of violating those conditions.  A defendant released from custody may have his or her release revoked and be subject to pretrial detention if that defendant was charged with a crime for which he or she is eligible for pretrial detention, and the defendant while on release has violated a restraining order, a condition of release, or the court has probable cause to believe that the defendant has committed a new crime.  In addition, a defendant who violates pretrial release conditions may be subject to civil contempt, criminal contempt, forfeiture of bail, or any combination of those sanctions imposed by the court. 

     In order to assist with pretrial determinations, the bill establishes a Pretrial Services Unit within each county to assess criminal defendants prior to a bail hearing or first appearance for the purpose of making recommendations to the court concerning the appropriate disposition.  The bill requires that the pretrial assessment be conducted using a validated risk assessment instrument and include an examination that weighs the factors used to determine whether a defendant should be detained prior to trial.  The Pretrial Services Unit also is required to monitor defendants who are released on conditions to ensure that they adhere to the condition, or conditions, of release ordered by the court.   

     In addition, the bill provides that the Supreme Court may, subject to limitations provided in the bill, adopt Rules of Court to revise or supplement filing fees and other statutory fees payable to the court for the sole purpose of funding: (1) the development, maintenance, and administration of a "Statewide digital e-court information system," that incorporates electronic filing, service of process, document and case management, financial management, and public access to digital court records; (2) the development, maintenance, and administration of a Pretrial Services Unit in each county; and (3) the provision of legal assistance to the poor in civil matters by Legal Services of New Jersey. 

     The bill would establish in the General Fund a dedicated, non-lapsing fund to be known as the "21st Century Justice Improvement Fund."  This fund would be annually credited with a sum equal to the revenue to be derived annually from the incremental amounts of any fees payable to the court that are revised or supplemented pursuant to the bill and the related fee revisions as provided by operation of N.J.S.22A:2-5 (fees payable in the Appellate Division, designated to be the same as those payable in the Supreme Court)  and section 2 of P.L.1993, c.74 (C.22A:5-1) (fees payable in the Tax Court, designated to be the same as those payable in the Superior Court).  The fund would be administered by the State Treasurer.

     To the extent that sufficient funds are available, monies annually credited in the "21st Century Justice Improvement Fund" would be allocated as follows:

     (1)  the first $15 million would be appropriated annually to the Judiciary to be used to fund the development, maintenance and administration of a Pretrial Services Unit in each county;

     (2)  from any amounts remaining thereafter, up to $17 million would be appropriated annually to the Judiciary for the development, maintenance, and administration of the Statewide digital e-court information system; 

     (3)  from any amounts remaining thereafter, up to $10.1 million would be appropriated annually to the Department of the Treasury for distribution to Legal Services of New Jersey and its affiliates to facilitate the provision to the poor of legal assistance in civil matters. Additionally, this amount, as well as all other State funds distributed to Legal Services of New Jersey, would be required to be used exclusively for the provision of legal assistance to the poor in civil matters; and

     (4)  Any remaining amounts would be retained by the Judiciary for the sole purpose of developing, maintaining, and administering court information technology.

     With regard to the monies from the "21st Century Justice Improvement Fund," to be appropriated and distributed to Legal Services of New Jersey and its affiliates, this method of funding is only intended to provide monies to the organization and its affiliates until such time that the State's fiscal health improves, at which point it is anticipated that such monies may be directly provided from the State's General Fund.

     No later than the sixth month after the end of each State fiscal year the Administrative Director of the Courts would submit a report to the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the General Assembly describing the Judiciary's use of funding provided through the bill and its progress toward the development and deployment of the Statewide digital e-court information system and the development and maintenance of the Pretrial Services Unit.  As part of the reporting requirement, Legal Services of New Jersey also would submit a detailed financial statement to the same parties plus the State Auditor, describing how funds provided pursuant to the bill were used for the provision of legal assistance to the poor in civil matters.  Additionally, the bill requires that the use of public funds appropriated to Legal Services of New Jersey would be subject to oversight by the State Auditor.

     As part of its development of the Statewide digital e-court information system, the Administrative Office of the Courts would be authorized to establish systems to accept the payment of filing fees, administrative charges, fines and penalties imposed for motor vehicle violations under Title 39 of the Revised Statutes, civil and criminal penalties, other judicially imposed financial obligations, and related charges by card based payment, electronic funds transfer, or other methods the office deems feasible.  The various municipal and joint municipal courts, when permitted by resolution of the appropriate municipal governing bodies, also would be authorized to establish such systems.  These provisions, which amend existing law pertaining to electronic payment or fund transfer systems, also intend to clarify that the Administrative Office of the Courts or any particular State, municipal, or joint municipal court could assess service charges and other costs associated with the collection of any fees, charges, fines, penalties, or obligations.

     The authority of the Supreme Court to revise or supplement any filing fees and other statutory fees under the bill would expire approximately seven months after the enactment of those sections of the bill establishing that authority, except that any fees that have been revised or supplemented would continue in effect, subject to the bill's provisions.

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