New Bail Reform Laws and Your Right to a Speedy Trial

Car keys, a shot of liquor and handcuffs on a table

The Constitutional right to a speedy trial guarantees certain rights to any driver who is charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, whether the driver is asserting the right in municipal court or in the Law Division of the Superior Court. After a driver is arrested and charged, the driver or the court may assert the right to a speedy trial. This right then prevents the driver from having to wait an unconstitutionally long time before having his or her case resolved in court.

In New Jersey, the general rule is that a DUI/DWI case must be delayed at least six months before it can be considered unreasonable. Once a case has been delayed at least six months, a court may take a look at why the case is taking so long. The court may be willing to dismiss the case if the reason for delay is not because of the defendant, but due to the State or the court.

This is good because it would be unfair to make a person wait years before knowing whether or not he or she will be found guilty and forced to go to jail, pay fines, or suffer other consequences that can affect the person’s life, job, and family.

Right to a Speedy Trial and the New Bail Reform Laws

Beginning on January 1, 2017, the State of New Jersey will also begin implementing new Bail Reform laws across the state (although some counties started pilot programs for Bail Reform already). The new laws separate crimes committed after January 1, 2017 into two categories: crimes that result in a complaint-summons and crimes that result in complaint-warrants. When someone is charged with a crime that is placed on a complaint-summons, they will generally be free to return home.

In certain cases, however, the person may be momentarily detained while the State makes a motion to detain the defendant pending trial, and a hearing before a judge must then take place within 5 days from the time of arrest. At that time it will be determined whether the defendant’s crime is placed on a complaint-warrant and the individual will be detained – meaning he or she will be held in jail. In those cases, the State is required to follow certain timelines under Bail Reform, or else the individual must be released from jail and allowed to go home:

  • 1) Pre-Indictment (90 days not including excludable time) – The State must indict a defendant within 90 days from the time the person is ruled detained, not counting excludable time.
  • 2) Post-Indictment (180 days not including excludable time) – After a person is indicted, a defendant should not remain detained without going to trial for more than 180 days on that charge following the return or unsealing of the indictment, not counting excludable time.
  • 3) Overall (2 years not counting excludable time) – An eligible defendant must be released from jail, possibly under conditions set by the court, if the State is still not ready to start trial after two (2) years after the court issues a pre-trial detention order for the defendant, excluding any delays attributable to the defendant.

It is important to recognize that Bail Reform rights are different than the right to a speedy trial. Therefore, if you are charged with a crime and immediately released, or if you are briefly detained but released before trial, it does not mean that your case is dismissed. You will still need to attend court on your scheduled trial date or for other required appearances.

DUI, DWI, and Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License

In general, most crimes will be classified as complaint-summons type crimes under the Bail Reform standards. Most motor vehicle charges including driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or driving on a suspended license will be handled by a municipal court and the above timelines will not apply. There are a few crimes that could be included, however:

  • 1) A DUI/DWI that results in a death or vehicular homicide charge;
  • 2) A DUI/DWI that results in a serious or permanent injury to a victim;
  • 3) Driving with a suspended or revoked license, when driving privileges were taken away as the result of a previous DUI/DWI or another occurrence of driving with a suspended or revoked license.

In these circumstances, a driver will be entitled to specific rights under both Bail Reform and the Right to a Speedy Trial.

New Jersey Drunk Driving Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Explain Your Rights and Defend You in Court

If you or someone you know is charged for any crime relating to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or for driving with a revoked or suspended license, it is extremely important to contact an experienced DUI/DWI attorney who can explain what rights you have in your specific situation. If you go to court, an experienced lawyer can also make sure you are being treated fairly and get you the best result possible. Having an experienced drunk driving lawyer can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI/DUI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.