A South Jersey man is challenging the state's new bail system, arguing that defendants should be able to pay cash bail if they want.
New Jersey's overhaul of its criminal justice system virtually eliminated monetary bail.
Brittan Holland in June sued state Attorney General Christopher Porrino and other state officials in federal court. Holland said he was entitled to but denied the opportunity to pay bail before his trial.
Holland was charged with aggravated assault after a bar fight on April 6. An aggravated assault charge can lead to fines or jail time in the state of New Jersey.
In Holland's case, the court used a computer algorithm to determine whether he would commit another crime or skip a court date if released. The algorithm recommended detaining Holland until trial, but the judge allowed Holland to go under the condition that he remain in his home and wear a GPS tracking bracelet.
But Holland's attorneys argue that he could have avoided these restrictions had he been allowed to pay cash bail, which he would have fulfilled with a bond. New Jersey judges rarely offer defendants the option to pay cash bail.
Under the new state law, judges must consider other options, including GPS monitoring and house arrest, before offering the option to issue cash bail.
Defendants willing to pay cash bail are forced to have physical restrictions imposed upon them, argues Holland's attorneys.
The overhaul of the bail system was designed to help poor defendants who are in jail on bails they cannot afford. The law also gives judges the ability to detain defendants who are considered a flight risk, which was not allowed under previous law.
New Jersey Attorney General Stuart Feinblatt said cash bail is appropriate in cases involving non-violent defendants. Holland did not fit into that category, he said, as he was charged with a violent crime.
Bail bond agency Lexington National Insurance Corporation joins Holland's lawsuit, and argues that the overhaul to the criminal justice system has caused them financial harm.
Holland's attorneys are seeking a preliminary injunction that allows him to pay bail and eliminate the physical restrictions previously imposed.
U.S. District Judge Jerome B. Simandle is expected to rule on the matter within the next few weeks.
The bail bond industry has also been fighting back against New Jersey's overhaul of its criminal justice system. The industry has noted cases in which defendants accused of violent and sex crimes are released and then arrested on new charges soon after.