N.J. considers reframing constitutional guarantee of speedy trial

With New Jersey lawmakers having just a few sessions scheduled over the summer, the deadline is nearing if they want to put bail reform on the November ballot.

 

 

Everyone is entitled to bail, and it can’t be excessive, states the New Jersey Constitution.

Assemblyman John Burzichelli is proposing an amendment to change that.

“If you do certain things, you’re not going to be entitled to release prior to trial. You’re going to have to stay incarcerated, but you will get a speedy trial,” he said Wednesday. “That’s part of the negotiations going on now — where should the language of the speedy trial live?”

One of the hang-ups in the negotiations is whether the timeframe for a speedy trial should be set in the Constitution or legislatively, said Burzichelli, D-Gloucester.

There are also differences about which crimes should not be eligible for bail.

“One group is arguing that it should only be individuals charged with crimes in the first degree,” Burzichelli said. “Others are saying there should be a little more discretion allowed for crimes that are bordering on other circumstances that may happen that a person clearly is a danger to society, a threat to flee.”

To be on the ballot this fall, both houses of the Legislature would have to pass the constitutional amendment by early August.

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