Grandparents in today’s world have a much more active role in raising their grandchildren than in many generations before. In many cases, a grandparent may be the person that a grandchild trusts most to call if they get in trouble. It can be startling and scary for a grandparent to receive news that their grandchild has been arrested and needs their help. However, by taking swift and decisive action, you can ensure that your grandchild’s rights are protected and that the system follows all the appropriate protocol. Below, our experienced Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych explain when and how a grandparent can engage our services, and what we can do to help resolve their grandchild’s case.

Can a Grandparent Pay for Their Grandchild’s Lawyer in Atlantic City?

Many grandparents dealing with the arrest of a grandchild have never had any experience at all with the criminal justice system. You may have questions about the most basic aspects of the process, such as whether you as a grandparents are permitted to pay for a criminal defense lawyer for your grandchild. The answer to this question is yes. Anyone can pay for a criminal defense lawyer for someone else. However, even if you pay for your grandchild’s attorney, you are not entitled to know what is discussed between your grandchild and the lawyer in private conversations. Attorney-client privilege still applies.

The Juvenile Justice Process in Atlantic City

If your grandchild is under 18 years old, they will go through the juvenile justice process, which functions as an entirely different entity than the regular adult justice system. The purpose of the juvenile justice system is to rehabilitate the juveniles rather than to punish them, and, in line with this, very few juveniles are detained while their matter is pending. However, in some cases of serious crimes being alleged, the juvenile intake officer may recommend the child be held in the juvenile detention facility for the safety of the public. An experienced Atlantic City juvenile defense attorney like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych can appeal any such decision to a juvenile court judge and work to get your grandchild released to their home.

The juvenile intake officer will usually try to work out a non-judicial remedy for your grandchild before resorting to processing the case in the juvenile courts. Some such remedies include pre-trial intervention programs or community panels that will ask your grandchild to make restitution or to write letters of apology for their action. If the crime alleged is more serious and no deal can be reached, our attorneys are ready to aggressively defend the case in court. In the juvenile court system, all cases are tried before a judge, rather than a jury.

The Adult Criminal Justice System in Atlantic City

If your grandchild is 18 years or older, their case will be handled through the adult criminal justice system. The first step in the adult system after your grandchild has been arrested and booked will be a bail hearing. In 2017, New Jersey virtually did away with the cash bail system. Now, a judge will make a decision about who can be released based on a series of risk factors, rather than who can afford to pay. Some such factors taken into consideration by the judge include whether your grandchild has a criminal history or a history of not appearing for court dates as scheduled, how serious the crime alleged is, and your grandchild’s ties to the community through work, school, and family. An experienced Atlantic City bail hearing defense attorney like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych will know how to make the best argument to the judge to get your grandchild released while their case is pending.

The next steps in the system will vary according to what type of crime your grandchild has been charged with. For disorderly persons offenses, New Jersey’s version of misdemeanors, the case will proceed with an arraignment in the local municipal court. Your lawyer will likely advise you to plead not guilty at your arraignment so that they can collect evidence, assess the strength of the state’s case, and try to work out a plea deal with the prosecutor. If a deal cannot be reached or your grandchild does not wish to take a deal, we can take the case to trial and mount an aggressive defense. Note, however, that all municipal court cases are tried before a judge rather than a jury.

For indictable offenses, the prosecutor will bring the case before a grand jury. The grand jury will decide whether to issue an indictment based on their review of the evidence collected in the investigation. If an indictment is issued, your grandchild will be arraigned in the superior court. The lawyer will attempt to work out a plea deal for your grandchild to plead guilty to a less serious crime or for the prosecutor to recommend a more lenient sentence in exchange for them pleading guilty and foregoing their right to a trial. If no deal can be reached, we will fight for your grandchild at trial and work to get a not guilty verdict. Superior court trials are before a jury and the jury must reach a unanimous verdict to convict.

If Your Grandchild Has Been Arrested in Atlantic City, Call Our Criminal Defense Firm Today

It can be overwhelming to feel like you have the fate of your grandchild’s life in your hands after they have been arrested. The sooner you act to obtain qualified legal counsel to represent them, however, they easier you can breathe knowing they are in good hands. At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our criminal defense attorneys have years of experience fighting for our clients in and out of the courtroom and working to bring their case to the best possible resolution. We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to get your grandchild’s charges downgraded or dismissed. For a free consultation, call us today at (609) 616-4956.