No matter how old our children get, we as parents will always be concerned about their safety and well-being. One of the scariest calls a parent can receive is one from their child telling them that they have been arrested and are being held in jail. Especially if you are not from the Atlantic City area and your child is there on vacation, you may have no idea how the local system works or what to do next. At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our experienced Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys can help get your child out of jail quickly and work to resolve the underlying criminal issue. Below, we explain when and how you can retain a lawyer for your child and what a lawyer can do to help deal with your child’s case.
The Legality of a Parent Paying for Their Child’s Criminal Defense Lawyer in Atlantic City
If you are unexperienced with the criminal justice system, your may have a lot of questions about how to go about obtaining the best possible legal representation for a child who has been arrested. One of your first questions may be whether you as a parent are permitted to pay for a criminal defense lawyer to represent your child. The answer to this question is yes, whether your child is an adult or a juvenile. While you are permitted to pay for the attorney however, this does not mean that you will have access to what is said in private conversations between your child and their lawyer. Attorney-client confidentiality still applies, even if your child is a minor.
How a Juvenile Case Works in Atlantic City
The juvenile justice system in New Jersey functions as an entirely separate entity from the adult criminal justice system. The stated purpose of the juvenile justice system is to rehabilitate minors, rather than punish them. If your child is a minor when arrested, they will go through this parallel process. In most cases, the child will be booked and released to the care of their parents or guardians while the case plays out. However, if the juvenile intake officer believes your child could be a danger to themselves or others, they can request the child be detained in the juvenile detention facility. An experience Atlantic City juvenile defense lawyer like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych can challenge any decision to detain your child before a juvenile court judge.
In the juvenile system, intake officers and the prosecutor will often look to non-judicial remedies to deal with delinquent minors. Sometimes, the minor may be permitted to appear before a community panel in lieu of court. This panel will ask the child to complete certain tasks such as enrolling in counseling or writing an apology letter, and if the child complies the case will be dropped. Other possibilities include entry into a pre-trial intervention program or a plea deal. If none of these options are available, our attorneys will aggressively defense your child at trial. Trials in the juvenile system occur before a judge rather than a jury.
How an Adult Case Works in Atlantic City
If your child is 18 or older, the case will proceed in the adult criminal justice system. The first step in this process is a bail hearing before a judge. In 2017, New Jersey passed a law virtually eliminating the use of cash bail in the state. Now, whether your child is released will not depend on how much money you have. Instead, the judge will consider a list of factors and decide whether your child can be released on their own recognizance, released with conditions, or must remain detained until the matter is resolved. Factors include criminal history, flight risk, ties to the community, and the seriousness of the alleged crime. A knowledgeable Atlantic City bail defense attorney like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych will know the best way to argue to the judge for your child’s release.
Where the case goes from here depends on whether your child has been charged with a disorderly persons offense or an indictable offense. Disorderly persons offenses are New Jersey’s version of misdemeanors, while indictable offenses are New Jersey’s version of felonies. For a disorderly persons offense, the case will take place in the municipal court system, starting with an arraignment. Your child’s lawyer will try to negotiate for a pre-trial intervention program or a plea deal. If no deal can be reached, our firm is ready and able to take your child’s case to trial. In municipal court, all trials take place before a judge rather than a jury.
For an indictable offense, the prosecutor must first present their evidence to the grand jury. The grand jury will assess the evidence and decide if there is enough there for a case to go forward. If they decide the evidence is sufficient, an indictment will be issued and your child will be arraigned in the superior court.
Pre-trial intervention is not typically available for indictable offenses, although sometimes a plea deal can still be reached. If you and your child are not satisfied with the deal offered, our attorneys will mount an aggressive defense at trial. Trials in the superior court are before a jury and the jury must return a unanimous verdict in order for your child to be convicted.
If Your Child Has Been Arrested, Contact Our Atlantic City Defense Attorneys Today
No one wants to deal with the scary prospect or guiding their child through the criminal justice system after they have been arrested. Unfortunately, however, it may be up to you as a parent to take the quick and decisive steps necessary to protect their rights and deal with their charge. At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our criminal defense attorneys have years of experience bringing all sorts of cases to a successful resolution for our clients. For a free consultation, call our office today at (609) 616-4956.