STATE OF NEW JERSEY VS. C.W.
In this appeal by the State from a denial of its motion for defendant's pretrial detention, this court addresses several legal issues arising under the new Bail Reform Act, N.J.S.A. 2A:162-15 to -26.
First, the scope of appellate review of a detention decision generally should focus on whether the trial court abused its discretion, but de novo review applies with respect to alleged errors or misapplications of law within that court's analysis.
Second, a defendant's prior history of juvenile delinquency and probation violations is a permissible – and at times especially significant – consideration in the detention analysis.
Third, in appropriate cases, a detention analysis should afford considerable weight to the tier classification of a defendant who has previously committed a sexual offense subject to Megan's Law, N.J.S.A. 2C:7-1 to -23, and whose dangerousness and risk of re-offending have been evaluated on a Registrant Risk Assessment Scale.
Fourth, a Pretrial Services recommendation to detain a defendant does not create, under Rule 3:4A(b)(5), a rebuttable presumption against release that a defendant must overcome. However, as the Rule states, such a recommendation to detain may be, but is not required to be, relied upon by the court as "prima facie evidence" to support detention.
The panel also discusses the Impact of the Judiciary's March 2, 2017 clarification of the two-part recommendation formerly used by Pretrial Services for the highest-risk category of defendants.
The case is remanded to the trial court for reconsideration in light of this guidance, and also to develop the record further on important and unresolved factual questions.