Assembly Panel Moves Watson Coleman Legislation to Require Bail Restrictions for Certain Weapons Offenses

TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrat Bonnie Watson Coleman that would add certain weapons offenses to the list of crimes with mandatory bail restrictions cleared the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee voted on Thursday.
The bill is part of the Assembly Democratic gun violence prevention effort.
“We have witnessed one too many instances of senseless violence throughout the country in recent years. We’ve watched communities suffer as a result of these tragedies,” said Watson-Coleman (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “Making clear weapons offenses will come with the toughest bail restrictions is the right thing to do.”
Current law designates certain crimes as “crimes with bail restrictions.” The statute provides that if a defendant is charged with such a crime he may post the required amount of bail only in the form of full cash, a surety bond executed by a corporation or a bail bond secured by real property with an unencumbered equity equal to the amount of bail undertaken plus $20,000.
The bill (A-4178) would add second and third degree crimes of possession of firearms and the first degree crime of leader of a firearms trafficking network to the state list of crimes with bail restrictions.
“Bail restrictions are only considered for the most heinous criminal acts and also, for those who are repeat offenders,” said Watson Coleman. “By requiring these restrictions for certain weapon offenses, we help keep these offenders’ off the street and out of our communities longer.”
In addition, the bill would add that the presumption of full cash bail also applies if the offender is charged with a violation of unlawful possession of weapons, and the offender previously has been convicted of a crime of the first, second, or third degree, or has been charged with a crime of the first, second, or third degree for conduct arising from the same incident.
This provision would not apply if the weapon that was unlawfully possessed was an unloaded rifle or shotgun or a BB gun, air gun or spring gun.
Under current law, bail restrictions are attached to charges for the following first or second degree crimes: murder; manslaughter; kidnapping; sexual assault; robbery; carjacking; arson; causing or risking widespread injury or damage; burglary; theft by extortion; endangering the welfare of a child; resisting arrest; eluding; escape; corrupting or influencing a jury; possession of weapons for unlawful purposes; weapons training for illegal activities; soliciting or recruiting gang members; and human trafficking.