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How High Should Bail Be To Insure Defendant’s Appearance

How High Should Bail Be To Insure Defendant’s Appearance

In State v. Steele, 61 A.3d 174 (2013), Defendant Tyrone Steels appealed from the order of the Passaic County Superior Court denying his motion to reduce bail on two indictments for fourth degree offenses. Bail was set at $150,000, cash only, for 6 counts of lewdness, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-4b(1), and $50,000, no 10% option, for violating a condition of community supervision for life (CSL), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6.4d for failing to report arrests to his parole officer and refrain from initiating contact with a minor. The Defendant pled guilty to 1st degree kidnapping, robbery and attempted sexual assault under separate indictments from Bergen and Passaic in 1997 and was incarcerated until 2010 when released subject to CSL and Megan’s Law. The charges relating to the challenged bails occurred while defendant was on bail for prior violations of CSL. The State’s plea offer included recommendations of 2 concurrent 18 month terms for the lewdness charges which would run consecutive to 3 concurrent 18 month charges for the community supervision violations charged. The NJ Appellate Division reviewed the Superior Court Judge’s denial of the bail reduction motion and found that the trial court was incorrect in its consideration of the safety of the community when setting the bail amount for the two 4th degree offenses in excess of the $2,500 maximum set forth in N.J.S.A. 2C:6-1. In order for bail to have been set at $150,000, cash only, and $50,000 no 10%, there would be a necessary showing that defendant’s release on bail constituted a serious threat of destruction of evidence by defendant or danger to witnesses. In spite of the fact that the bail amounts set were excessive, the defendant faced exposure to sentences significantly longer than typical for the underlying offenses and bail in excess of the $2,500 maximum was appropriate and necessary to ensure the defendant’s appearance at trial. If you are arrested and facing bail, it is critical you secure your release so you can continue to work and can participate in your own defense. However, bail is often high and many are forced to incur financial hardship through non-payment of other expenses to meet bail or pay fees to a bondsman in order to obtain their release. An experienced attorney can often obtain a decrease in your bail amount so you are free to return to your job and family and are better able to assist in your defense. For more information about bail reduction, bail setting or other criminal matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney.

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