A trip to Atlantic City is supposed to be a fun-filled weekend filled with beach time, bars, clubs, and casinos. However, the dangers of going too far are all too real in the original Sin City. Many times, people will drink too much or let the thrill of being on vacation get the better of them, and this could lead to them being arrested for a crime. If the person arrested is your child calling you to help bail them out of jail, you may be frightened and not know what the first thing you should do is. Below, our experienced Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych guide you through the arrest and release process and how to be help your child if they are arrested in Atlantic City.

How Bail Works if Your Child is a Juvenile in Atlantic City, NJ

The juvenile justice system in New Jersey functions as an entirely separate entity from the adult criminal justice system. The state purpose of the juvenile justice system is to “rehabilitate” the juvenile rather than to punish them. To this end, juveniles are generally not detained while they are awaiting their criminal matter to be resolved. Rather, they are usually sent home with their parents, sometimes with conditions like attending counseling.

In extreme scenarios, where the alleged crime was violent or where the child has a history of not showing up for court, the juvenile intake unit may request that the child be held in detention for the safety of themselves and the safety of the community. They will be held in the Atlantic County Juvenile Detention Center, also known as Harborfields, until their case is resolved. However, you will be given a chance to contest this decision at a hearing in front of a juvenile court judge if you so choose. An experienced Atlantic City juvenile defense attorney will know how to make an argument to the judge that your child is not a danger and should be released to their parents.

How the Juvenile Justice System Works in Atlantic City

Even if your child is released from detention, there is still the underlying criminal complaint to deal with. Because the juvenile court is focused on rehabilitation, it is common for the prosecutor to offer your child entry into some sort of pre-trial intervention program. Such programs may require that your child enter into counseling, drug or alcohol abuse treatment, or perform some sort of community service, among other possibilities. However, if they successfully complete this program, all the charges will be dropped and they will not have to go through a lengthy court proceeding.

If no type of plea deal can be reached to your satisfaction, our attorneys at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych are ready and able to take your child’s case to trial. However, there are some important things you should know about trials in the juvenile court system. First, all trials are done before a juvenile court judge rather than a jury. Second, if the judge finds the charges to be true, your child will be “adjudicated delinquent” rather than found guilty. Although this sounds less harsh, it can still come with serious penalties including time for your child in a juvenile detention facility.

How Adult Bail Works in Atlantic City

In 2017, New Jersey passed a bill virtually eliminating the use of cash bail in the state. This means that judges will now use a holistic balancing test to decided which arrestees can and cannot be released, rather than basing this on their respective abilities to pay. A detention hearing in front of a judge will be held within 72 hours of the time your adult child is booked at the station.

At this hearing, the judge will determine whether your child can be released by considering such factors as your child’s ties to the community and employment history, any prior criminal record they have, whether the nature of the alleged crime could make them a danger to the community, and whether they have a history of skipping court appearances or there is some other indication that they present a flight risk. The judge also has the ability to release with conditions, such as attending counseling or staying out of further trouble. Our experienced bail hearing defense attorneys at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych know the best arguments to make to convince a judge that your child deserves to be released with minimal to no conditions.

How the Adult Criminal Justice System Works in Atlantic City

If you are charged with a disorderly persons offense, you will be arraigned right away in the municipal court. Your Cape May criminal defense lawyer will likely advise you to plead not guilty while they gather evidence and attempt to work out a plea deal. If no such deal can be worked out, our lawyers can take your case to trial. Note that you do not have a right to a jury trial in municipal court and the case will be decided by a judge.

For an indictable offense, the prosecutor must first take their case before a grand jury of 23 people who will decide whether there is enough evidence for an indictment to be issued. If an indictment is issued, your child will be arraigned in the superior court. Indictable offenses are typically more serious and the prosecutor may be less willing to offer a deal. If you take the case to trial in superior court, however, you are entitled to a trial by jury, and the jury must reach a unanimous verdict to find you guilty.

If Your Child Has Been Arrested, Call Our Experienced Atlantic City Criminal Defense Attorneys Today

The thought of your beloved child behind bars is one of the scariest things imaginable for a parent. If you get a call that your child has been arrested, you need to take quick and decisive steps to get them legal counsel who will protect their rights. At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys have a successful track record of getting charges dropped or downgraded for both juvenile and adult clients. Call us today at (609) 616-4956 for a free consultation.