Pregnancy and Pre-Trial Release Conditions
Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
In this case (State v. Imani Williams) the Appellate Division reviewed and additional factor, a defendant’s pregnancy, under New Jersey’s recent Criminal Justice Reform Act, the new bail reform law. The court ruled that pregnancy should not be given any greater weight relative to other pre-trial release conditions and it should be considered like any other medical condition by the trial court.
At the detention hearing the trial judge took into consideration the defendant’s extensive criminal history, extensive juvenile history, the seriousness of the current second-degree offense, and her multiple failures to appear. The judge also consider the pretrial services recommendation for no release.
However the trial court then took into consideration the defendant’s pregnancy and concluded that same required her pre-trial release with conditions. The state appealed and the Appellate Division determine that pregnancy, should be considered like any other medical condition, and should not be given any greater weight than any of the other risk factors. In this case the other risk factors which were given less weight relative to the pregnancy was the defendant’s danger to the community, and her numerous prior failures to appear. As a result, the case was remanded to the trial court to make a new determination as to the defendant’s pregnancy and any other similar medical condition while giving them same weight as the other issues brought up by the pretrial release review.
Jeffrey S. Hark, Esq.