New Jersey Court Discusses Modifications of Conditions of Pre-Trial Release

Convictions for drug offenses can result in significant penalties, and in many cases, people charged with drug-related crimes are denied pre-trial release or subject to strict pre-release conditions. In some instances, though, the conditions of pre-trial release can be modified and made less restrictive. In a recent ruling, a New Jersey court discussed the grounds for altering the conditions of pre-trial release in a case in which the defendant was charged with multiple drug crimes. If you are accused of committing drug offenses, it is prudent to speak to a skillful New Jersey criminal defense attorney promptly to assess your options.

The Defendant’s Pre-Trial Release and Conditions

Allegedly, the defendant was charged with multiple drug crimes in February 2019. His release was ordered on level 3+ pre-trial monitoring, which included home detention. With the State’s consent, the terms of his release were relaxed on three occasions. The defendant then filed a motion seeking a further modification, in that he sought to have the home detention condition to be removed entirely. His request was based on the fact that new developments in the investigation of his case revealed numerous weaknesses in the State’s case that were previously not evident. The State argued the developments did not weaken their case and objected to the requested modification. The trial court denied the defendant’s request, after which he appealed.

Motion to Relax Conditions of Pre-Trial Release

On appeal, the appellate court noted that the trial court incorrectly deemed the defendant’s request as one to reopen a detention hearing and evaluated it based on the standards that applied to that motion. Thus, the appellate court found that the trial court applied the incorrect rule and failed to consider relevant factors.

The appellate court went on to explain that under the appropriate rule, a court may review the conditions of pre-trial release on its own motion or motion by the defendant or prosecution alleging that a material change in conditions has occurred that justifies a modification. If the court finds there has been a significant change in circumstances, it may set new conditions for the release.

The appellate court went on to explain that the ability to modify conditions based upon a material change in circumstances is critical to ensuring that the conditions remain the least restrictive necessary to achieve the goals of assuring the defendant’s appearance, protecting public safety, and shielding the criminal justice process from undue obstruction. A change is material if there is a reasonable likelihood that it would warrant relaxing conditions. In the subject case, as the trial court applied the incorrect standard, its ruling was reversed, and the matter was remanded.

Speak to a Trusted Criminal Defense Attorney

Many people charged with drug offenses are granted pre-trial release. If you are charged with drug distribution, it is advisable to consult a New Jersey drug distribution lawyer to discuss what measures you can take to protect your rights. The same truth applies if you have been charged with drug possession. The trusted New Jersey criminal defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are practiced at helping people charged with crimes in the pursuit of favorable outcomes, and if you hire us, we will work diligently on your behalf. You can reach us via our online form or at 877-450-8301 to set up a conference.

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