What Happens when You’re Arrested at the Jersey Shore on Vacation?

Unfortunately for many out of town guests to the Jersey Shore, any legal issues you face at the beach must be dealt with where they happened.  That means that any cases from the Jersey Shore will end up at the courthouse in that jurisdiction, and you will need a New Jersey attorney to fight the charges.  Our Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys are always available to take on new cases, even for out of state residents.  Whether you were charged with drug crimes, violent crimes, or theft crimes, our attorneys can help you fight your charges in the New Jersey court system.  Contact the Law Offices of John J. Zarych for a free consultation today, and check our guide for more information on South Jersey courthouses.

Where do I Fight a Jersey Shore Arrest?

The Jersey Shore between Cape May in the South and Ocean City in the North is all part of Cape May County.  The areas between Longport and Brigantine, including Atlantic City, are all part of Atlantic County.  Fighting an arrest and criminal charges means going to the courthouse for the town or county you were arrested in.  For different types of offenses, you go to different courthouses in New Jersey.

Local Ordinance Violations

Every town has its own ability to write laws and create offenses.  These are often handled at local municipal courthouses and carry fines.  Each city’s courthouse address can be found on their website, if they have one.

Even these kinds of offenses might require a lawyer, since some of the fines can be extremely high.  For some offenses, like underage drinking, the local laws overlap with the State laws, and punishments can include losing your driving privileges.  Always check with an attorney about the severity of your offense.

Disorderly Persons Offenses

This is the lowest level of “criminal” offense in New Jersey, but it should not be taken lightly.  These crimes can still have penalties of up to six months in jail and $1,000 fines.  They are usually handled at the municipal court level.  The municipal courts are the lowest level of New Jersey state court, and their addresses are listed on the state’s courts website.


New Jersey considers anything with over six months of potential jail time a “crime.”  They break this down further into different “degrees,” with fourth degree crimes having up to 18 months in prison and $10,000 fines, and first degree crimes having up to 20 years in prison and $200,000 fines.

These are the most serious crimes and certainly need a lawyer to properly defend against the charges.  Even fourth degree crimes can have serious penalties.

These cases start with hearings at the municipal court level, like disorderly persons offenses.  After that, they move to the county courthouse.  The courthouse for Cape May County is located at:

9 North Main Street

Cape May Court House, NJ 08210

The courthouse for Atlantic County is located at:

4997 Unami Boulevard

Mays Landing, NJ 08330

If you have any doubts about where you should go to fight your charges, talk with your attorney.

Do I Need a New Jersey Attorney if I’m from Out of Town?

In most cases, yes.  New Jersey is in charge of its own attorneys, and they usually must pass the New Jersey Bar exam to practice law in New Jersey.  There are some ways that attorneys from other states may be able to practice in New Jersey for one case, or get admitted in New Jersey, but they still will not know New Jersey’s laws very well.  Some attorneys are admitted to practice in multiple states, so many Pennsylvania and New York criminal defense attorneys may also be admitted to practice in New Jersey.  Again, though, they may not be experienced with New Jersey-specific law.

The best way to fight New Jersey criminal charges is with a New Jersey attorney.  First, since the charges actually need to be fought in New Jersey, it makes more sense to use a local attorney.  Trying to bring an attorney from your home state will mean they need to travel to appear in court with you – which can get expensive.  Our attorneys have offices in Atlantic City, Cape May, and Wildwood, so we are already where we need to be to help with your case.

Our attorneys also have decades of experience practicing New Jersey law in New Jersey.  Attorneys from other states may be able to handle a case, but our attorneys know the ins and outs of New Jersey-specific case law.  Plus, we are often familiar with the prosecutors and judges handling your case.  That means we have a good idea of what kinds of plea bargains and sentences might be available, and how to negotiate your charges with them.

Contact a New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney

The lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych know New Jersey criminal law, and help fight charges for our clients every day.  No matter where you live, we can help you fight your New Jersey criminal charges.  Our lawyers can discuss your case over the phone, and are available for free consultations.  Call (609) 616-4956 today.

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Atlantic County Office
1555 Zion Road Suite 201
Northfield, NJ 08225
Toll Free: (866) 330-4951
Phone: (609) 641-2266
Fax: (609) 641-3677
Cape May Office
106 North Main Street
Cape May Court House, NJ 08210
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Phone: (609) 465-6500
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3309 New Jersey Avenue
Wildwood, NJ 08260
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Atlantic City, NJ 08401
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Phone: (609) 344-9958
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