On Jan. 1, 2017, the New Jersey court system began using the risk-assessment tool to help judges make more informed decisions about pretrial release. To predict whether a defendant poses a low, moderate or high level of risk, pretrial services officers now review each defendant's criminal history, record of prior court appearances and other objective information -- as they will in an estimated 70,000 cases per year. Officers then make a recommendation to the judge.
Most defendants will be released pretrial on a range of conditions that will not include money bail. For low-risk defendants, the court may simply direct an officer to send a text message or place a phone call to remind defendants when they must appear in court. Defendants who pose greater risks may be placed on electronic monitoring. Those considered a serious threat to public safety or risk of flight will be detained. Judges can also modify conditions of release based on new circumstances.
Defendants who are detained will be subject to the new law's speedy trial provisions, which impose time limits for when a defendant must be indicted and when a trial must begin.