APRIL 29, 2009
New Jersey’s Supreme Court may soon decide whether or not to eliminate a loophole that allows illegal immigrants to avoid facing criminal charges in local courts by choosing deportation.
The key issue is: Should county prosecutors be allowed to increase the bail of an illegal immigrant charged with a heinous crime to prevent fleeing before facing justice? The state’s High Court is pondering the answer after hearing arguments this week involving a Honduran man charged with molesting a 9-year-old girl.
The illegal immigrant, Manuel Fajardo-Santos, was indicted by a grand jury in December for sexually molesting a Wharton 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 in January 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. His public defender appealed and, in late January, a state appellate court reversed the higher bail and reinstated the original amount of $75,000. Prosecutors appealed to the state’s Supreme Court and this week justices heard the case but didn’t issue a ruling.
Local authorities took action because, in a similar case last year, 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 in the county and prosecutors were determined not to let that situation repeat itself.
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