Pretrial release, violating the terms, and being charged with new criminal contempt under NJSA 2C: 29–9 A
State v. McCray New Jersey Appellate Division approved for publication
March 29, 2019
State v. Norman New Jersey Appellate Division decided March 29, 2019
Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
Are you on pretrial release? Have you been charged with a crime, had a detention hearing, and the judge released you? Does part of your pretrial release order includes “not committing any new offenses”? yes it must because every pretrial release order include that language. If you are charged with a new offense while you are on put on any type of pretrial release Order it appears that the AOC (Administrative Office of the Courts), the State of New Jersey attorney generals office, and the sitting committee of the county prosecutors have or are attempting to start a new criminal charges in different counties of “ criminal contempt” with a substantial effort to charge defendants with criminal contempt of a prior court order for failure to comply with the pretrial release court order.
Three different New Jersey Appellate Division courts have ruled that the county prosecutors office can charge a defendant who has been released on pretrial release with the criminal contempt under New Jersey statute NJSA 2C: 29–9 A with contempt for violating a court order; namely purposefully and knowingly disobeying an order of pretrial release pursuant to New Jersey’s criminal justice reform act.
These three appellate panels found that the new indictment for the new criminal contempt is not barred by double jeopardy and any indictment for same should not have been dismissed. If the pretrial release order included a provision that the defendant should not commit a new offense; any violation of that order showing purposeful and knowing a violation is not barred by double jeopardy.
So the key here is that if you are on pretrial release please be on
notice that if you violate the terms of the pretrial release by committing a new offense, (not a DWI or traffic offense) the new charges will result in an entirely separate indictment for criminal contempt for failure to comply with the previous pretrial release order. The fact that the trial court could give a sanction for that violation in the form of a failure to comply, does not preclude the county prosecutors office from proceeding with an entire different separate indictment for criminal contempt of the pre-trial release order.
It also appears that the county prosecutors are attempting to make an end run around any trial court judge who has released somebody the state has objected to. The criminal contempt indictment and process will increase any subsequent PSA (public safety assessment) score and further expose a defendant to detention on the new charges. What it is doing is creating an additional higher score and an additional indictment for a criminal history score to substantially raise the pretrial assessment and push the probation department recommendation to the court for subsequent offenses to detain as opposed to release with conditions.
Jeffrey S. Hark, Esq.