JULY 08, 2009
New Jersey’s Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that county prosecutors can increase the amount of bail for illegal aliens who may try to avoid facing criminal charges in local courts by choosing deportation.
The case involves an illegal immigrant from Honduras (Manuel Fajardo-Santos) indicted by a grand jury for sexually molesting a 9-year-old girl. Prosecutors in Morris County, located about 25 miles west of New York City, originally set bail at $75,000. When the illegal alien eventually posted bail prosecutors learned that federal immigration officials had placed a detainer and his deportation was imminent.
Prosecutors convinced a Superior Court judge in Morristown to reset bail at $300,000 so that the accused child molester could be returned to the county jail to face trial rather than leave the country. His public defender appealed and a state appellate court reversed the higher bail and reinstated the original amount of $75,000. Prosecutors appealed to the state’s Supreme Court, which heard arguments in April.
In its 20-page decision supporting the bail increase, the court concludes that an immigration detainer marks a change in circumstances that can affect whether a defendant will fail to appear. That development may therefore be considered by judges in deciding whether to modify bail, the court said.
Morris County authorities pursued the bail increase to avoid a repeat of a similar case last year in which an illegal alien, also charged with sexually assaulting a child, agreed to be deported to escape prosecution. In that case a different Honduran man was deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after posting bail for his criminal charges.
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