In the past, when a person was arrested, they were often released “on bail” while awaiting trial or other required appearances before the court. This allowed the defendant to retain their freedom until they were acquitted, a jury declared them guilty of a crime, or they entered into a plea bargain agreement with the State.
Bail usually took the form of money paid to the court or property (such as land) pledged to secure the defendant’s appearance at later proceedings. If the defendant did not appear, the bail money (or property) was forfeited; additionally, the defendant could be charged with the separate crime of failure to appear in court.
Although this basic system was followed in New Jersey for many years, the state legislature passed bail reform legislation in 2014 that significantly changed the existing bail system.