Newark Chosen for Violence Reduction Network

Newark Violence Reduction NetworkNewark, New Jersey has been selected as one of five cities to be added to the Department of Justice’s Violence Reduction Network. The year-old program promoted efforts to reduce crime in Camden last year. The Violence Reduction Network connects cities with federal law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Marshals Service.

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said that the choice of Newark for the program will enable the city to build upon the success that was achieved in Camden last year. The city plans to target resources to the areas where they can provide the greatest benefit.

The other cities chosen for the Violence Reduction Network this year were Little Rock and West Memphis, Arkansas; Compton, California; and Flint, Michigan. The choices were announced at the second annual VRN Summit in Detroit on Monday, September 28.

Camden was one of six cities chosen for the program’s first year. The program sponsored efforts to reduce crime that included displaying information about wanted felons on digital billboards, helping local police receive National Integrated Ballistic Information Network equipment and training, and initiating eTrace, an online process that is used to trace firearms.

The announcement about Newark’s inclusion in VRN is one of several local, state, and federal measures being taken to improve safety in the city. After an investigation into Newark Police Department practices by the Department of Justice, officials are in the process of choosing a federal monitor to oversee the department’s operations.

Newark recently experienced a spike in homicides. However, according to federal data that was just released, violent crime was down overall in Newark in 2014.

Connecticut Considers Bail Reform

Connecticut bail reformThousands of people are in pretrial detention in Connecticut every day, and over 500 are held on bonds of $20,000 or less because they cannot pay bail bondsmen their fees, which are typically 10 percent, to get out of jail. Connecticut is considering reforms that would reduce the number of people held in jail because they are unable to post bail.

Those who are unable to raise bail are disproportionately minorities. Over the past 20 years, the amount of time they spend detained prior to trial has grown from two weeks to almost two months.

Governor Dannel P. Malloy and members of his administration believe too many people are being held in jail who do not pose a risk to the community. The state is working with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to generate ideas for reforms that would be in line with Malloy’s Second Chance Society initiative, which reduced some drug crimes from felonies to misdemeanors and eliminated mandatory minimum sentences for some drug-related crimes.

The state of Connecticut received a $150,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation in May to create a plan by December to reform the state’s jail system. The plan would include pretrial detention and people serving short sentences. Connecticut is also vying to be one of 10 jurisdictions to receive up to $4 million in grants to implement those plans.

The changes would help people who are arrested for crimes for which there is little or no evidence against them who are unable to raise the money needed to post bail. People in that situation sometimes plead guilty to crimes they did not commit in order to be released from jail.

The American Civil Liberties Union says changes are needed because the current bond system, which is meant to ensure that a defendant appears in court, is sometimes used by prosecutors to gain leverage to reach plea deals. The ACLU is encouraging Connecticut to replace most cash bonds with curfews, travel restrictions, or electronic monitoring.

Members of the bail bond industry are opposed to the changes. They believe the current system is working and that some people who have been accused of crimes do pose a danger to the public.

New Jersey amended its constitution in 2014 to eliminate traditional bail for most crimes. Prosecutors can hold some defendants charged with serious crimes without bail if a judge considers them dangerous.

Newark Officials Respond to Spike in Homicides

Newark homicides police patrolsAfter six homicides in as many days in the fourth full week of August, Newark Police Department Director Eugene Venable reassigned 115 officers from administrative duties to patrols. City officials believe many of the recent shootings were drug-related.

As of August 29, 62 homicides had been reported in Newark. There had been 203 shootings in the city as of August 23, compared to 163 at the same time last year. As of August 23, 249 people had been injured by guns, up 30 percent over the same time in 2014.

In spite of the recent wave of homicides, city officials say crime is down in Newark overall, with the exception of shootings and rapes. Officials say it is common to have a spike in crime over the summer. According to Venable, the reassignment of the officers was less about fighting crime than about fighting the perception that crime is increasing.

The overall number of crime complaints is down 8 percent compared to this time last year. However, James Stewart, president of the Newark Fraternal Order of Police, says these statistics only reflect crimes that are reported. He believes the totals are higher.

Twenty-six Essex County Prosecutor’s Office officers have been patrolling the streets of Newark since the beginning of August, in addition to 30 detectives from the county’s inter-agency homicide task force, who are conducting investigations throughout Essex County. The Office of the Interim Essex County Prosecutor and the New Jersey State Police have agreed to help patrol neighborhoods in Newark with high levels of violence.

When Mayor Ras Baraka announced the increased patrols at a news conference in August, he also called on the state to re-accredit the Newark police academy to add to the ranks of police officers.

Officials say the increased police visibility is working. Crime in targeted areas is down.

Several other major cities have reported an increase in homicides this year. Murder rates were up by 33 percent or more in Baltimore, New Orleans, and St. Louis in the first half of 2015. Newark is doing fairly well in spite of a significant shortage in the number of police.

Fake ID’s and Illegal Documents: The Consequences

fake idFake IDs may be commonplace around a college campus, but they can cause quite a problem for their owners if discovered. While many underage students believe their fake IDs are no big deal, recent reports show otherwise. The legal risks of carrying a fake ID are pretty worrisome and could result in jail time.

What Happens if you Are Caught With a Fake ID?

The bouncer or bartender may confiscate your illegal license or passport and give it to the police.  Undercover police are often in the bar or outside, so in some cases, bartenders and bouncers can quickly pass the illegal documents on to authorities at the scene. Once a cop knows you have a fake ID, he or she can arrest you and charge you with a misdemeanor. Most commonly, getting caught with a fake ID is considered a charge or criminal possession of a forged instrument in the third degree, but this charge does vary from state to state.

You Can Get Arrested for a Fake ID?

Yes! And in some states such as Florida and Illinois, possessing a fake ID is considered a felony! While you probably won’t go to jail for being a first-time offender, how you used the ID changes the sentence and charges. If you used it to get into a bar, that’s a lesser charge, but if you used it to impersonate someone for financial gain, that is a more serious charge that can cost you jail time. Still, those who use a fake ID to purchase alcohol or tobacco can lose their driver’s license for up to two years in New Jersey or can be put on probation.

Creating or providing illegal IDs is an even worse offense than owning one. In Newark, a man was recently sentenced to two years in prison and three years of supervised release for his participation in the production and sale of illegal IDs for immigrants. One of his partners received six years in prison for his role in the illegal ID production as well.

idCreating a fake ID for yourself or friends may seem like a quick way to save or make a few bucks, but in the end, the risks and consequences are drastically higher because the charges change from possession of forged instruments to forgery. Fake IDs may seem innocent, but in the long run they can cost your serious money, jail time, and potential jobs. Having forgery on your record may result in companies finding you untrustworthy and ruin your chances of getting a job.

If you or someone you know is facing jail time, you may need assistance from a qualified and trustworthy bondsman. For bail bonds help throughout the state of New Jersey, contact Chance BailBonds at 732-984-4101.

Can you be arrested for flipping off a cop in New Jersey & Other Questions Answered

If you’re like most people, at some point or another you’ve caught yourself wondering, “Could I get arrested for this?” Maybe now is one of those times! To ease your troubled mind, here are the facts on some of the most common, “Is this illegal?” questions out there.

Can you get arrested for carrying a knife in New Jersey?

Under New Jersey law, it’s illegal to carry gravity knives, switchblades, daggers, dirks, and stiletto knives “without any explainable lawful purpose.” That means if you’re carrying a box cutter on the way to your warehouse job, you’d probably be in the clear. A hunting knife in the middle of Trenton? Maybe not so much. However, is unlawfully carrying a knife an arrestable offense? No, if a police officer saw a knife on your person and decided it was in violation of the law, you’d just be given a ticket and a court summons.

Can I get arrested for being high in New Jersey?

Can you get arrested for being high? Yes. It’s considered a disorderly persons offense to be under the influence of drugs in the state of New Jersey. It’s not enforced all that often, but it is technically the law. Some other marijuana laws in the Garden State:

  • Maximum penalty for possession of less than 50 grams: 6 months in jail and $1,000 fine.
  • Maximum penalty for possession over 50 grams: 1.5 years and $25,000 fine.
  • Maximum penalty for distribution of less than 1 ounce: 1.5 years and $25,000 fine.
  • Maximum penalty for distribution of less than 5 pounds: 5 years in jail and $25,000 fine.
  • Maximum penalty for distribution of more than 25 pounds: 20 years in jail and $300,000 fine.
  • If within 1,000 feet of a school, 100 hours of community services is added to any punishment. Sales to minors or pregnant women doubles fines and sentence lengths.

Can I get arrested if my roommate sells drugs out of our home?

It’s not against the law to live with a dealer, but that doesn’t mean you definitely won’t get arrested. If the police get a warrant for the arrest of your roommate, you might be caught up in a raid, and that might mean ending up in cuffs. From there it’ll be up to the judge to decide you’re innocent.

Can you get arrested for panhandling in New Jersey?

It depends on the town. Many cities and towns in New Jersey have ordinances that outlaw aggressive panhandling. However, the ACLU has been involved in challenges to those laws, arguing that it violates people’s Constitutional right to free speech and peaceable assembly. Can you get arrested? Maybe, but unless you’re making an unusual amount of fuss, you probably won’t be.

Can you be arrested for flipping off a cop?

It's legal to give the middle finger to a cop, but we wouldn't.Nope! Well, it’s not illegal anyway. In 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled: “ancient gesture of insult is not the basis for a reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation or impending criminal activity.” The ruling was based on an appeal from a New York man who was arrested after giving the bird to an officer with a radar gun.

That said, it’s probably wisest not to provoke the police.

Can I get arrested for speeding in New Jersey?

Not for speeding alone. If you’re pulled over for speeding, and in the course of your interaction with the police officer an arrestable offense occurs, you could be spending the night in jail.

RELATED POST: Know Your Rights if Stopped by Police

Of course, there’s a difference between what’s legal, what’s normal, and what can actually happen. Police can arrest you for quite a lot – but some of it will be thrown out in court.

If you do end up behind bars in the state of New Jersey, get out fast by calling Chance BailBonds in Freehold at (732) 984-4101.

What Are Your Rights When Stopped by Police in NJ?

rights during a traffic stopWith recent news over the suspicious death of Sandra Bland and increasing occurrences of cops showing unnecessary aggression toward the public and vice versa, many are questioning what a citizen’s rights truly are when stopped by police? Here are some common questions about police traffic stops and their answers.

Can police pull you over at random?

No. Police can only pull you over if they have probable cause such as speeding, erratic driving, or a broken tail light. A cop can’t randomly stop your car and conduct a search. When a cop does signal you to pull over, you have to abide when it is safe to do so. No matter the situation, if a cop signals you to pull over, pull over. If not, you could face additional charges for defying the officer’s signal.

Similarly, you must produce your identification when asked. If you fail to do so, you can receive an additional charge for a separate violation.

If the cop asks you to step out of the car, do you have to?

According to Professor George C. Thomas of Rutgers University School of Law – Newark, a police officer in New Jersey can demand you and your passengers to get out of the car because of safety precautions: It is easier to face an armed person standing than in a car. On the other hand, New York traffic attorney Martin Kron said it is perfectly legal to stay in your car, but it looks bad to the officer

You do not, however, have to do anything else if you provide your identification and get out of the car unless you were being detained. Police can pat you down if they think you are armed and dangerous, but you do not need to answer their questions or let them search your car unless… see the following Q&A.

When can a cop search your car?

An officer can only search your car if you give consent, if he or she sees cause for suspicion in plain view (such as a bag of marijuana on the dashboard), if you are arrested with probable cause, if the officer has probable cause to suspect a crime (like blood stains on your seat and a knife on the passenger floor), if they believe evidence is about to be destroyed, or if they have a warrant.

For New Jersey bail bondsmen who are on your side, contact Chance BailBonds at 732-984-4101. We’ve got your back and will help you or your loved one get out of jail as soon as possible.

The NJ Watcher Remains Unknown

NJ watcherIt sounds like something out of a horror movie. In the early summer of 2014, a New Jersey family bought their $1.3 million dream home in Westfield only to receive threatening letters from an anonymous stalker self-titled as “The Watcher.” They received the first letter three days after closing the deal to purchase the home.

“I am The Watcher,” the stalker writes, “and have been in control of (the house) for the better part of two decades now.” The Watcher goes on to say his grandfather watched the house in the 1920s and his father watched it in the 1960s. “It is now my time,” he adds. In following letters, he threatens the “young bloods,” the family’s three children, and asks which of them will be sleeping in the bedrooms facing the street, saying “It will help me to know who is in which bedroom then I can plan better.”

Along with the threats to the children and the overall creepiness of the letters, The Watcher hints at something hidden in the walls of the home and taunts the new owners for their recent renovations: “You have changed it and made it so fancy. It cries for the past and what used to be in the time when I roamed its halls, when I ran from room to room imagining the life with rich occupants there… Stop changing it and let it alone.”

Since the letters, the new owners have continued to make improvements on the home but refuse to move in. All of their efforts to sell the house have been useless because of The Watcher’s correspondence. A lawsuit and police investigation developed when the new owners of the home discovered the previous owner had received a letter from The Watcher before closing the deal on the house. Instead of informing the potential owners about the threat, the sellers withheld what they knew about The Watcher and sold the property to the ignorant new owners for over $1.3 million.

nj stalker The Watcher

A month after details from the case were announced, The Watcher still remains unknown, and while the local police chief said they are pursuing leads, no suspect has been determined.

Westfield has had its own fair share of a creepy past. The house in The Addams Family was inspired by a local home, and the List murders are an ugly and well-known part of Westfield’s history. In 1971, John List murdered his mother, wife, and three children then left the bodies arranged in the home and fled. While the bodies weren’t found for another month, List was caught 18 years later in Virginia with a new wife who had no idea about his murderous past.

If you or someone you know needs help posting bail, we can help. Contact Chance BailBonds at 732-984-4101 for bail bonds in New Jersey.

Weird Laws and Weirder Crimes in New Jersey

Looking to lighten up your day? Here are some one-of-a-kind crimes and odd-ball laws from New Jersey history. A few are unbelievable while others just make you wonder what was going through their minds. Enjoy!

Bacon vs. Sausage

In May of 2015, a Madison man named Thomas Bacon allegedly assaulted someone in his home for eating sausage. Bacon was charged with simple assault and the person he attacked did not require treatment for his or her injuries. For an article on the alleged assault, click here.

Don’t Commit Murder in a Bullet-Proof Vest

Bulletproof vests and attempted murder don't mix in New Jersey. In New Jersey, it is illegal to wear a bullet-proof vest if attempting to commit murder, manslaughter, robbery, sexual assault, burglary, kidnapping, criminal escape, or assault. It is also illegal to use the vest if fleeing after attempting one of the previously stated crimes or if beginning the crime. The charges for wearing a vest may be enough to push your offense from third to second degree.

Cheese-aholic Tendencies

What would anyone do with $200,000 worth of cheese? Veniamin Balika must have had some idea when he falsified documents to drive away in a refrigerated truck with over 42,000 pounds of Muenster cheese from K&K Cheese. While the cheese was from Wisconsin, the accused and his Muenster-loaded vehicle were apprehended in New Jersey in March of 2013. The cheese couldn’t be returned to K&K because they were unsure as to whether or not the product had been compromised. If the food’s quality proved to be okay, officials said the cheese would be donated to charity.

Medieval Methods

When the electric company came to shut off his power due to an outstanding balance, Robert Vazquez allegedly assaulted the electric company employee. While the attack sounds strange enough, the weapon used makes this crime even more unusual: Vazquez used a medieval mace, a weapon made of a long wooden handle and two spiked metal spheres. The physical attack left the employee unconscious until he awoke bloodied, drove to a precinct, and attempted to explain what happened to the cops.

Keeping Car Dealers in Check

In New Jersey, it is forbidden for car dealerships to open or sell cars on Sunday. If a It's illegal in New Jersey to sell a car on Sunday. dealer sells a car on Sunday and it is their first time, it would be considered a disorderly persons offense and punishable by a fine of up to $100 and/or up to 10 days in jail. If the person continues to commit this offense, the punishments increase and their dealer’s license may be revoked or suspended.

An Elf with Rosy Cheeks

In December of 2014, a Riverdale police officer found 23-year-old Brian Chellis asleep behind the wheel of his running van with an open can of beer beside him. The van was parked near the loading dock of a local Target with the music blasting and the lights on. Once the officer woke up Chellis and turned off the engine, he noticed the man’s strange attire: Chellis was wearing an Elf on the Shelf costume and his breath smelled strongly of alcohol.

While we hope you found these facts and stories funny or interesting, we know going to jail is no joke. If you or someone you know needs help posting bail, Chance BailBonds is here to help. Call us today at 732-984-4101 for bail bonds anywhere in New Jersey.

New York City to Ease Bail for Low-Level Offenders

New York Bail Bonds Reform

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration announced new plans for the city’s bail requirements on Wednesday, July 8th. Now low-level or non-violent offenses can be freed by the judge without posting bail. The bail relief is part of a $130 million package that includes many changes to the city’s criminal justice system. The plan comes as a response to the city’s overburdened jail system, dysfunction at Rikers Island, and the story of Kalief Browder.

The Story of Kalief Browder

At the age of 16, Browder was accused of stealing a backpack and held on bail. Unable to post the $3,000, Browder remained trapped in jail for over three years until the charges were dropped in 2013. While detained, Browder was beaten by correction officers and fellow inmates and held in solitary confinement for almost two years at Rikers Island. After his release, Browder struggled to get his life back on track and committed suicide in June of 2015.

“Some people are being detained based on the size of their bank account, not the risk they pose,” said Mayor de Blasio. His hope is to decongest the city’s jail systems and prevent cases like Browder’s.

Mayor de Blasio’s New Plan

In order to make the new bail requirements work, de Blasio’s administration has created a $17.8 million fund judges can access to substitute bail for about 3,000 low-risk defendants. With this new plan, the daily population at Rikers, around 10,000, can be reduced by about 200. About 45,000 defendants are held on bail per year across NYC’s five boroughs. “This is unacceptable,” said the Mayor. “If people can be safely supervised in the community, they should be allowed to remain their regardless of their ability to pay.” Defendants covered by the new plan will still undergo a modern supervision system including daily check-ins, text alerts, and drug counseling to behavior treatment.
The bail relief plan is modeled after a similar plan in Manhattan and Queens, and other cities such as Milwaukee and Portland, Oregon have avoided using money bail. A pilot program started in Queens in 2009, and since then, 87 percent of the defendants returned to court to complete their legal process.
If you or someone you know needs help posting bail, Chance BailBonds is here to help. Our bondsman have your best interest in mind and can help you navigate the ins and outs of the criminal justice system. Call us today at 732-984-4101 for bail bonds anywhere in New Jersey.

RELATED STORY: New Jersey’s Bail Reform: What Happened and What Does It Mean?

New Jersey Bail Reform: What Happened and What Does It Mean?

Call us now for bail services anywhere in New Jersey: (732) 984-4101

The bail bonds industry in the U.S. has been getting a lot of attention lately, due in no small part to a segment on comedian John Oliver’s HBO program Last Week Tonight and outrage over the death of Kalief Browder, a Riker’s Island inmate held in solitary confinement for years while awaiting trial for a non-violent crime. Activists on the both sides of the aisle are calling for comprehensive reform of the bail process.

When it comes to bail reform, New Jersey is way ahead of the curve.

Passed in November of last year, New Jersey’s bail bonds reform measure are among the most sweeping in the nation.

The legislation was championed by controversial Governor Chris Christie, who

Photo By Adya Beasley | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Christie speaks out for for bail reform. Photo By Adya Beasley | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

called the pre-reform system a “debtors prison” that disproportionately punished the poor, even those accused of non-violent crimes.

“We are failing when we have a system that works against the very people in our society who need us to fight for the fairness they often cannot fight for themselves,” said Christie to a special session of the state legislature a few months before the reform was passed.

Christie’s assertions were supported by a 2013 report by the Drug Policy Alliance, which found that close to 75% of New Jersey’s population in jail was behind bars awaiting trial rather than serving a sentence. The average time spent in jail for pretrial holding was found to be more than 10 months.

The battle for change came to fruition when the New Jersey State Assembly passed the reforms advocated by Christie, the NAACP, ACLU, and others passed after two years of campaigning.

What Does New Jersey’s Bail Reform Mean?

The first reform measure, approved by public ballot, seems counter-intuitive given the calls context of the campaign discussed above. Basically, whereas before New Jersey citizens had a constitutional right to bail in every case, the court can now order mandatory pretrial incarceration in cases where the accused are found to be extremely violent or particularly dangerous. This measure won’t take effect until 2017.

This amendment, though, was linked to legislation signed by Governor Christie. The new laws included possibilities for non-monetary release for low-risk individuals, individualized risk assessments for suspects, and pretrial counseling services within the court system.

Basically, if the court finds a defendant is no threat to the community or the court system, they can be released without having to pay bail, meaning freedom for thousands of poor, non-violent offenders.

In the case of those who are denied bail per the ballot measure, prosecutors must prove that pretrial detention is necessary in clear, concrete terms, and lay out a firm timeline for a speedy trial.

If you’re ever in need of bail bonds services anywhere in New Jersey, contact Chance BailBonds at (732) 984-4101 to get yourself of your loved ones out of jail and quickly and easily as possible.

Call us now for bail services anywhere in New Jersey: (732) 984-4101