Judge Yannotti concluded in relevant part: The Supreme Court affirmed our judgment, substantially for the reasons stated in our opinion. The Court concluded that in view of the legislative goals of the criminal contempt statute and the State’s juvenile justice system, the trial court should not have subjected the juvenile to an adjudication of delinquency based on the conduct at issue.
Defendants’ reliance upon the decisions in S.S. is misplaced. Those decisions are based on an assessment of the Legislature’s purposes of the criminal contempt statute and the statutes governing the juvenile justice system. The reasoning does not apply to violations of pretrial release orders.
The goal of the criminal contempt statute is to promote compliance with judicial orders by punishing those who purposely or knowingly fail to comply with those orders. See N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9(a). The purpose of the CJRA, as stated in N.J.S.A. 2A:162-15, is to rely primarily upon pretrial release by non-monetary means to reasonably assure an eligible defendant’s appearance in court when required, the protection of the safety of any other person or the community, that the eligible defendant will not obstruct or attempt to obstruct the criminal justice process, and that the eligible defendant will comply with all conditions of release, while authorizing the court, upon motion of a prosecutor, to order pretrial detention of the eligible defendant when it finds clear and convincing evidence that no condition or combination of conditions can reasonably assure the effectuation of these goals.
Permitting the State to charge an eligible defendant with criminal contempt under N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9(a) based on a violation of a pretrial release order furthers the goals of the criminal contempt statute and the CJRA. A criminal contempt charge would provide the State with an additional means to address a violation of a condition in the pretrial release order. It would also deter defendants from violating conditions of release, thereby avoiding the potential revocation of release and detention pretrial.
The Court’s reasoning here could also apply to the juvenile S.S. that the panel distinguished because of the juvenile justice system’s primary goal of rehabilitation over deterrence. A contempt complaint against a juvenile could just as easily be the basis for the imposition of more rehabilitative measures.