Being arrested is a terrifying experience, one that leaves many people feeling helpless and confused. For those who have no prior experience with the criminal justice system, they are likely to be unsure what is going to happen to them after they have been put in handcuffs and what steps they need to take to protect themselves. When they are told they will be facing a criminal arraignment, they might not know what this mean or what it entails.
Even though you may be frightened, it is important that you or your loved ones act quickly after your arrest to retain an experienced Atlantic City attorney for a criminal arraignment like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych. Our attorneys have years of experience successfully fighting to get our client’s charges downgraded or dismissed in all sorts of cases. From your arrest to your arraignment and beyond, we will be there by your side fighting for your and guiding you through this complex process. For a free consultation, call us today at (609) 616-4956.
The Pre-Arraignment Process in Atlantic City
If you are charged with something very low-level like an infraction, the police officer will simply issue you a citation or summons with a court date on it for your arraignment, and you can go on your way. Most of the time when the police believe you have committed a crime, however, you will be arrested. If an officer personally witnesses you commit the crime or otherwise has probable cause to believe you committed it, they can arrest you on the spot without a warrant. The normal procedure is for an investigation into the crime to be conducted, and when the police believe they have enough evidence to arrest a subject, they make an application to a judge for an arrest warrant.
If a warrant for your arrest is granted, the police will come to your home or place of work to execute it. After your arrest, you will be transported to the local police station for your booking. Booking involved the officers fingerprinting and photographing you and collecting your biographical information. When booking is done, you will be taken to the station’s holding cell or the local jail to await your bail hearing, which typically occurs within 48 hours of booking.
The Criminal Arraignment Process
A criminal arraignment is a relatively brief proceeding where the judge reads the charges against you, advises you of your rights, and asks you to enter an initial plea of guilty or not guilty. In cases involving disorderly persons offenses, New Jersey’s version of misdemeanors, the arraignment will occur in the municipal court at or around the same time as the bail hearing. For the more serious indictable offenses, New Jersey’s version of felonies, the arraignment will not occur until further along, in the superior court after an indictment has been issued. If you are not arrested but simply issued a citation with an arraignment date on it, an experienced criminal defense lawyer like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych can reach out to the prosecutor to try to work out a deal where the case can be resolved at your first appearance.
Because the arraignment occurs so quickly after your arrest in disorderly persons offense cases, it is vital that you or a loved one contact a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after you have been arrested. We will likely advise you to enter an initial plea of not guilty while we gather all the evidence and assess the case. We can also assist you with the bail hearing, which will occur quickly after your arrest in both indictable offense and disorderly persons offense cases. Since New Jersey virtually eliminated cash bail, the judge now decides whether or not you can be released while the case is pending based on a series of holistic factors. At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our bail hearing attorneys know how to make the best argument for you to be released without cumbersome conditions.
In indictable offense cases, the prosecutor will then take their evidence before a grand jury of 23 fellow citizens, who must decide whether there is enough there for the case against you to proceed. If they decide that there is, they will issue an indictment and you will then be formally arraigned in the superior court. As with disorderly persons cases, your lawyer is likely to advise you to enter a not guilty plea while they request discovery and speak with the prosecutor about a potential plea deal.
The Post-Arraignment Process in Atlantic City, NJ
Once you have been arraigned and bail has been decided, and while your lawyer continues to request all necessary discovery, they will begin negotiating with the prosecutor regarding a plea deal, if this is something you may be interested in. If you have a clean criminal record, we can try to get you into a pre-trial intervention program. If you complete this program successfully, the charges will be dropped. Other deals could include the prosecutor agreeing to downgrade the charges or recommending a lenient sentence in exchange for a guilty plea.
Of course, if you do not wish to take a deal or admit guilt, our skilled trial lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych are always ready to fight for your innocence at trial. If you are charged with an indictable offense, your trial will be in the superior court, where you have the right to a trial by jury. If you are charged with a disorderly persons offense, however, the trial will be in municipal court, where all trials are bench trials. In bench trials, the judge alone assesses the evidence and reaches a verdict.
Call Our Atlantic City, NJ Attorneys for a Criminal Arraignment Today
Being charged with any crime is a serious matter that could come with serious consequences, such as long jail sentences, high fines, and years of struggling to get a job with a criminal record. At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our Atlantic City, NJ attorneys for a criminal arraignment have successfully fought to prove our clients’ innocence in many cases. From the arraignment until the end, we will work with you every step of the way to bring your case to the best possible resolution. Call our firm today at (609) 616-4956 for a free consultation.