In today’s world, as more households have both parents working, grandparents are taking an ever more active role in raising their grandchildren. Some grandparents even serve as the primary caretaker for their grandkids. It is not at all uncommon for a grandparent to be the one to get the call from their grandchild who has been arrested and needs help. Many grandparents, especially those who have no prior experience dealing with the criminal justice system, may have no idea what to do next or how they can best help their grandchild. At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our experienced Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers are here to help guide you through this process. Below, we explain when and how you can engage the services of one of our attorneys to assist your grandchild.

Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney for a Grandchild in Atlantic City

Without prior experience in the criminal justice system, a grandparent might not know how the system works or what rules they need to follow. For example, many grandparents may be unsure of whether or not it is legal for them to hire a criminal defense attorney on behalf of their grandchild. Any person can hire a criminal defense attorney for anyone else. However, just because you are paying for the attorney, this does not mean that there is no attorney-client privilege between the attorney and your grandchild. Their conversations are still confidential unless your grandchild chooses to waive the attorney-client privilege.

The Bail Process for an Adult Criminal Case in Atlantic City

If your grandchild is 18 years of age or older, their case will be handled through the regular adult court system. After your grandchild has been booked and detained, they will have a bail hearing within 72 hours. In 2017, the state of New Jersey did away with cash bail in virtually all circumstances. Judges now consider a multitude of factors and employ a balancing test to decide whether your grandchild can be released on their own recognizance, released with conditions, or must remain detained while the case remains ongoing.

Factors a judge will consider include the nature and severity of the crime committed, whether your grandchild has any prior criminal record, their ties to the community through family, school and employment, and whether or not there is reason to believe they may present a flight risk if release. An experienced Atlantic City bail defense attorney like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych will know how to craft the most persuasive arguments to ensure that your grandchild is released with no or minimal conditions.

Disorderly Person Offenses vs. Indictable Offenses in Atlantic City

The next steps in the case will depend on whether your grandchild is charged with a disorderly persons offense or an indictable offense. Disorderly persons offenses are New Jersey’s version of misdemeanors, or less serious offenses, while indictable offenses are akin to the more serious crimes known as felonies in other states.

For disorderly persons offenses, the case will proceed in the municipal court system. There will be an arraignment where your lawyer will typically advise you to enter a plea of not guilty while they assess the strength of the state’s evidence and try to negotiate a deal with the prosecutor. Such a deal might involve your grandchild entering into pre-trial intervention, and if they successfully complete the program the charges against them will be dropped. If no deal can be reached to your satisfaction, our attorneys are ready and able to take the case to trial. Trials in the municipal court are held before a judge, rather than a jury.

For indictable offenses, the prosecutor must first present the case evidence to the grand jury, a group of 23 citizens who will decide whether there is enough there to proceed with a criminal case. If they believe there is, they will issue an indictment and your grandchild will be arraigned in the superior court. While pre-trial intervention is not usually offered for indictable offenses, the lawyer may be able to negotiate a deal for your grandchild involving pleading to a lesser charge. If no deal is reached, there will be a jury trial and the jury must reach a unanimous verdict to convict. Our experienced Cape May criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych will mount an aggressive defense for your grandchild at trial.

The Juvenile Justice Process in Atlantic City

If your grandchild is a juvenile, their case will be handled through the separate juvenile justice system. Most juveniles will be released to the custody of their guardians without a bail hearing, but in some cases,, the juvenile intake officer may decide that the child needs to be detained for their own safety or for the safety of the community. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can appeal such a decision to a juvenile court judge and work to get your grandchild released.

In the juvenile justice system, the players will try to work to find a non-judicial solution such as pre-trial intervention or having the child appear before a community panel, where the panel may recommend things such as community service or an apology letter. If the alleged crime is serious or no deal can be reached, our experienced Atlantic City juvenile defense attorneys will defend your grandchild’s case at trial. In juvenile court, there are no jury trials, and all cases are decided by a judge.

If Your Grandchild Has Been Arrested, Call Our Seasoned Atlantic City Criminal Defense Lawyers Today

It is scary and disorienting to know that your beloved grandchild is being held behind bars and it is up to you to get them the legal counsel they need to protect their rights. However, by acting swiftly and forcefully in obtaining them legal counsel, you will help your grandchild greatly in the long run. At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our skilled criminal defense attorneys will get to work right away to get your grandchild released and to work on bringing the underlying criminal matter to a positive conclusion. For a free consultation, call us today at (609) 616-4956.