“Under the Bail Reform Law, only certain “eligible defendants” as that term is defined in N.J.S.A. 2A: 162-15 are subject to pretrial detention. Cf. Section 1.6. Specifically, the statute authorizes pretrial detention of eligible defendants (i.e., defendants charged by complaint-warrant) who are charged with an indictable crime or a non-indictable offense involving domestic violence. See N.J .S.A. 2A:162-18(a) and N.J.S.A. 2A:162-19(a).
The Bail Reform Law creates a general presumption against preventive detention except in cases where a defendant is charged with murder or is facing an ordinary or extended term of life imprisonment. The statutory presumption of pretrial release that applies in all other cases is overcome only when the State establishes by clear and convincing evidence that no release condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the eligible defendant’s appearance in court when required, the protection of the safety of any other person or the community, or that the defendant will not obstruct or attempt to obstruct the criminal justice process. See N.J.S.A. 2A:162- 19. Pursuant to that statutory standard, under this Directive it shal1 be the exception, not the norm, for a prosecutor to seek pretrial detention, and no motion for pretrial detention shall be filed except as may be authorized by this Directive.”
It is amazing that while there is a general presumption against pre-trial detention in non-indictable domestic violence cases, pretrial detention is still permitted in the case of a domestic violence simple assault. Such a charge is not considered serious enough for the superior courts to exercise their jurisdiction. Therefore, under the bail reform statute, the accused can be denied bail in cases that routinely resolve with nothing more than a monetary fine (no jail, no probation, etc.). Concerning is the vague language “or that the defendant will not obstruct or attempt to obstruct the criminal justice process”, since it lends itself to many interpretations and will likely be used as a catch-all for prosecutors when they do not have an otherwise valid basis for seeking pretrial detention.”