Pregnancy isn’t a get out of jail free card, court rules

MOUNT HOLLY — A potentially dangerous defendant can’t avoid jail before a trial just because she’s pregnant, a state appellate court ruled.

Prosecutors appealed a pre-trial detention decision made in the case of Imani Williams, a 20-year-old woman charged with aggravated assault and robbery, earlier this month in Burlington County.

The appellate division ruled Friday that a Burlington County judge was mistaken to allow Williams, who had a history of prior crimes and failures to appear in court, to be released mainly because she was eight weeks pregnant. 

“Pregnancy, like any other medical condition, is only considered for its impact on the risk of a defendant posing a danger to the community, obstructing justice or failing to appear in court,” the decision states.

Williams was arrested in June after she allegedly “jumped” a woman from behind and punched and kicked her in the head, face, and body before stealing money from her purse. 

At a pre-trial detention hearing, the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office argued that Williams could be violent, and ranked high on the failure to appear and new criminal activity scales. The office moved to have her detained pending a trial.  

But Williams’ defense said her new pregnancy, paired with her full-time job, should make her eligible for conditioned release.

The judge sided with that argument, placing a curfew and in-person reporting mandates on Williams. 

The appellate court disagreed, ruling that Williams’ pregnancy was given “undue weight,” as the jail system would be able to provide her with appropriate prenatal care. 

“Although the trial judge here properly considered several of the listed applicable factors, he elevated defendant’s medical condition of pregnancy above all of the other pertinent factors, based on his unfounded speculation that her pregnancy might cause ‘issues’ to the correctional facility,” the decision says.  

The appellate court added that some pregnancies, whether they…

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