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.

High Bails Lead to Overcrowded Jail in Oklahoma

Oklahoma jail overcrowding bondsThe Oklahoma County jail has become so overcrowded that the situation has reached a crisis point. The population has risen to more than 2,750 people in the past two months. Officials are concerned about how this can affect the safety of detention officers, lawyers, bail bondsmen, officials, and inmates.

County officials and bail bondsmen met recently to discuss the problem. Jail officials said the population needs to be reduced quickly to about 2,300 inmates.

Oklahoma County’s public defender, Robert Ravitz, believes the overcrowding is happening because judges are setting bonds too high for minor crimes. People who are unable to post bond are locked up in jail until their cases go to trial. A motion was passed on September 11 to appoint a committee to review bond amounts set for a variety of crimes.

About 400 more people were arrested by Oklahoma City police in August than in July. Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel believes that is because the Oklahoma City police graduated a new class of recruits in August.

Whetsel said the overcrowded jail has become a new normal. The higher number of inmates has raised costs for all aspects of jail operations beyond the amounts in the requested and allocated budgets.

The sheriff’s office has had to cut 115 positions, which included 65 people. It was forced to make a 25 percent reduction in the patrol division, an 18 percent cut in courtroom and courthouse security, and a 13 percent reduction in detention.

The officials also discussed own recognizance (OR) bonds at the meeting. A person arrested for a minor crime with little or no criminal record would usually qualify for an OR bond. That means the person would be released without having to pay to post bond and would be required to attend all court dates.

District Judge Ray Elliott said he was skeptical of the program because of inaccuracies in some inmates’ information, but he believes overcrowding at the jail is a more pressing issue. He said people are sometimes held five to seven days before they are booked into the jail and able to post bond.

Bondsmen are concerned about OR bonds because no one polices people who are released on their own recognizance. If someone who is released on bond skips a court appearance, the bondsman can send a bounty hunter to find the person.

Bondsmen say OR bonds affect their business. People sometimes wait in jail to see if they will be released on their own recognizance and do not contact bail bondsmen to bail them out. This also contributes to overcrowding at the jail.

A study committee recommended that county commissioners ask voters to approve a sales tax to fund a new $330 million, 2,800-bed jail. Efforts to ask voters to approve the sales tax are on hold because a deadline to call for a November election passed without action being taken. The committee also recommended that the county’s juvenile justice facility be remodeled and improvements be made to mental health and substance abuse programs.

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.

The Safest Cities in New Jersey in 2015

new jersey crimeNew Jersey crime rates are a constant point of discussion in the news with Camden, Wildwood, and Atlantic City reigning as three of the most dangerous cities in the state. Whether you vacation in New Jersey or live in the state, you may care about the most dangerous areas, but you definitely care about the safest areas. The following is a breakdown of the safest cities in New Jersey.

New Hanover Township

New Hanover Township in Burlington County is considered the safest city in New Jersey and has a population of around 8,000. In 2013, the town reported no violent crime. As a heavy farming community, New Hanover is also a part of the New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve, the first national reserve ever created in the United States.

Old Tappan

With a population of 5.882 people, Old Tappan is a historic town that ranks 2nd on our list of safe New Jersey safe nj citycities. Old Tappan also did not have any reported instances of violent crime in 2013, and their most frequent crimes are thefts and burglaries, but even these numbers are about ten times less than the national average.

Tewksbury Township

Located in Hunterdon County and home to the oldest German-Lutheran parish in New Jersey, Tewksbury Township is ranked third as one of the safest cities in the state with a crime rate that beats the state average by 88 percent.

Chatham Township

Chatham Township located in Morris County has a population of 10, 681 and a crime rate only slightly higher than Tewksbury. The property value and median income are much higher than the state’s average, and this township also has a higher rate of violent crimes such as murders, rapes, and assaults than the previous three towns. Nonetheless, its crime rate is still over 80 percent less than the state’s average.

Park Ridge

Park Ridge is located in the norther part of New Jersey in Bergen County with a population of around 9,000. The city ranks fifth in the list of safest New Jersey cities because of its low crime rate. It only has about eleven violent crimes for every hundred thousand each year. The majority of other crimes are theft and burglaries.

new-jerseyThese are the top five safest cities in the state of New Jersey. Others that almost made the list include Parsippany-Troy Hills, Bernards, Bridgewater, Montgomery, and Byram.

If you or someone you know needs bail assistance in New Jersey, contact Chance BailBonds at 732-984-4101. We offer bail services for anywhere in New Jersey to help get you or your loved one out of jail as soon as possible.

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.

Bail Basics: FAQ’s about Bail in New Jersey

bail questionsIf you don’t know what bail is and how it works, or if you’ve only heard the term on Law & Order or another crime show, it is time to read up on this very important part of the judiciary system. We’ve compiled a few frequently asked questions about the basics of bail in New Jersey:

What is bail?

Bail is a kind of collateral, like money or a bail bond, provided to the court on behalf of a jailed defendant. The judge sets a specific bail amount, and if the set bail is paid, the defendant is granted freedom but must return to court on his or her required dates. If all required court dates are met, then the bail is returned to whoever posted it. It is designed to ensure the defendant appears in court, but if he or she fails to attend required court dates, then the court collects the bail and issues an arrest for the defendant.

How is the bail amount determined?

The judge considers many factors including the criminal history and charges against the defendant when setting a bail amount. Some of the factors are as follows:

  • How serious the charge is
  • The likelihood of conviction
  • The potential sentence if convicted
  • Any criminal history of the defendant
  • The defendant’s connections to the community
  • How dangerous the defendant is
  • If the defendant has missed court dates before

Off of these factors and many others, the judge decides how much the bail will be and how the bail will be paid.

What types of bail are there?

There are many ways bail can be paid and it is up to the judge to decide what type is set for a defendant. Cash only bail is self-explanatory—the full amount must be paid in cash. There is also an option called cash with 10 percent where only 10 percent of bail needs to be posted, but it must be in cash. The other 90 percent doesn’t need to be posted unless the defendant skips his or her court dates.

There is a form of bail release that requires no money or bond, just a promise: When a defendant is “Released on Own Recognizance” they do not have to post money, but they do sign a written promise to appear in court on the scheduled dates.

What if I can’t post my bail?

Bail bonds are an alternative if the defendant is unable to post bail on their own. The defendant pays a non-refundable fee for a licensed bondsman to post a surety bond with the court. Defendants who choose not to hire a bondsman and remain unable to post bail have to stay in jail while the charges go through court.

For respected, professional, and licensed bondsmen in New Jersey, contact Chance BailBonds. We offer bail services throughout the state and have your best interests in mind. Call us today 732-984-4101.

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.