How do Pennsylvania and New Jersey determine bail?

Bail is based on the potential harm a person presents to the community as well as the risk that the person will not appear for court and flee. In Pennsylvania, bail is based on a monetary system; the amount of risk determines the amount of bail set. A person is entitled to bail in Pennsylvania for almost all crimes except the crime of Murder-First Degree, where the mandatory minimum sentence is life without the possibility of parole.

In New Jersey, bail is not based on a monetary system, but rather a risk factor assessment based on an accused person’s risk of flight, the protection of the community, and whether the accused person will obstruct or attempt to obstruct the criminal justice process. Even if a person has a low risk assessment, however, the prosecutor’s office can file a Motion for Detention to argue that the assessment does not accurately portray the individual’s profile. At this hearing the prosecutor must present clear and convincing evidence that no level of non-monetary conditions will address the State’s concerns.