Enhanced bail requirements released by Senate committee

TRENTON – Following a half-hour in which the bill was tabled in order for it to be amended, the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee released bill S1133, which would add certain weapons offenses to the list of crimes with bail restrictions under current law.

Currently, a state law designates certain crimes as “crimes with bail restrictions.” Those restrictions include only making payment with full cash, a surety bond executed by a corporation, or  a bail bond secured by real property with an unencumbered equity equal to the amount of bail undertaken plus $20,000.

The following are crimes with such bail restrictions: murder; manslaughter; kidnapping; sexual assault; robbery; carjacking; arson; causing or risking widespread injury or damage; burglary; theft by extortion; endangering the welfare of a child; resisting arrest; eluding; escape; corrupting or influencing a jury; possession of weapons for unlawful purposes; and weapons training for illegal activities.

Under bill S1133, four additional crimes would be added to the list.

  • · the 2nd degree crime of unlawful possession of a weapon by certain persons;
  • · the 1st degree crime of being the leader of a firearms trafficking network;
  • · the 3rd degree crime of unlawful possession of weapons; and
  • · the 3rd degree crime of unlawful possession of a weapon by certain persons.

The bill would add that the presumption of full cash bail also applies if the defendant has two prior convictions for any crime of the third degree under unlawful possession of weapons or unlawful possession of a weapon by certain persons.

Scott Bach, president of the New Jersey Association of Rifle and Pistol Clubs, supports the legislation in principle, saying it goes after the “bad actors” instead of the “hardware.” However, he called for some clearer language and technical changes to the bill to avoid some unintended consequences.

After his testimony, the bill was tabled for about a half hour in order for it to be amended. Two amendments were added, stating that enhanced bail requirement would apply if the person involved has previously been convicted of a first-, second- or third-degree crime, or has been charged with crime of 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree  for conduct arising from the same incident.

Enhanced bail requirements released by Senate committee