Legal-Ease: Understanding the Concept of Bail in New Jersey

When one gets arrested in New Jersey, the Judge at the Superior Court level in the county in which the defendant is arrested or a judge at the municipal level sets bail. The purpose of bail is to assure the court that the defendant will appear for court when he is required to appear on his or her case. For our purposes in this column, we will use the example of a bail being set by a Superior Court Judge at one hundred thousand dollars. The Judge sets bail by looking at the client's prior criminal history, court appearance history, reviews the New Jersey Judiciary Bail Schedule to see the crime charged and what range is on the schedule and many other factors.

If you received a call from a family member or friend that they have been arrested and are going to be sent to a county jail the following is how you approach the situation. If the bail is one hundred thousand dollars and what is called "no ten percent" that means that you can either come up with the full one hundred thousand dollars for the court or you can pay a bail bondsman ten percent of the bail. You, as the person paying the bail bondsman and a cosigner, are guaranteeing that you will pay the full amount of the bail if the defendant does not appear in court. The bail bondsman is ensuring to the court that they have an insurance company that will be responsible for the rest of the money. If the defendant does not come to court then you and your co-signer must pay the balance to the bail bondsman for the defendant jumping bail. None of the money is returned to the person paying the bondsman if the person completes the case or if the person does not appear for court.

If the bail is one hundred thousand with a ten percent option that means that you can post 10 percent of the bail directly with the court. Once the person appears for all of his court appearances and is sentenced, the bail money is returned to you. In some instances, it is suggested that you hire a lawyer to try to file a bail reduction motion or convince the court to allow a ten percent option before bail is posted.

If the person that you have bonded fails to appear for court, the court may issue a bench warrant for his apprehension and arrest for failure to appear. This is now a separate offense called "bail jumping" and is distinct from the original charge. The bail bondsman will now hire a bounty hunter to try and apprehend the defendant. Sometimes bail bondsmen will go look for their own "skip" and act as a bounty hunter to apprehend the defendant. If the defendant appears for all of his court appearances and is sentenced then the bail bondsman is exonerated from the bail.

All experienced criminal defense attorneys have relationships with a bail bondsman. Usually they have worked with a bondsman before on more complicated matters. I suggest that if you need to contact a bondsman that you call an experienced criminal defense attorney who can refer you to a bail bondsman in your area. Many bondsman will come to your home in order to facilitate the process. If you rather, you can meet them at the police station or at the county jail in order to process the paperwork. I have sent my bail bondsman many times to my client's family's homes and usually that makes the family more comfortable with the process. When the bail is arranged in the comfort of your home, the family is able to easily provide the appropriate paperwork to complete the bail. The process to bail the defendant out of jail is quick and easy with a experienced bail bondsman. If you have questions about bail for a friend or family member feel free to contact my law office at 732-249-9933 or on twitter at  

 The Guest Column is our readers' opportunity to write about a given issue or topic in an in-depth and educational manner.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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