One of the most vital things you can do after you have been arrested is to make sure that you or a loved one reach out to a skilled criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. While you may feel terrified and paralyzed in the immediate aftermath of your arrest, especially if this is your first time dealing with the criminal justice system, it is imperative that you keep calm and collected so that you can take the steps that you need to protect your rights. This is especially true because your detention hearing, where a judge will make a decision about whether or not you can be released from jail as your case moves through the system, occurs within 48 hours of your arrest and booking, and usually sooner. Below, our skilled Atlantic City criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych explain when you should hire a lawyer, how a detention hearing works, and how an experienced criminal defense attorney like those on the team at our firm can help you at this hearing and beyond.

When Does a Detention Hearing Occur in a Criminal Case in NJ?

Sometimes, for lesser crimes like underage drinking charges, the police may simply cite and release you, and you will not have to go through a detention hearing in these cases. Most of the time when the police suspect you have committed a crime, however, you will be arrested, booked into the system, and kept in the station’s holding cell or at the local jail until your detention hearing can be held. Under state law, the detention hearing must be held within 48 hours of your booking unless a waiver is granted. Unless you are booked during the weekend or on a holiday, the hearing usually occurs the same day of your arrest or the day after.

In 2017, New Jersey passed a landmark reform bill virtually doing away with the use of cash bail. Before this bill, whether or not you could be released after your detention hearing largely depended on whether or not you were able to pay the cash bail as set by the judge. Now, the judge instead considers a set of holistic factors in making a release decision. Essentially, they are left with three choices now: they can release you on your own recognizance, meaning without bail or any conditions other than showing up for court as required, they can release you with conditions like mandatory drug or alcohol treatment with which you must comply or be remanded to jail, or they can choose to hold you in jail until your case is resolved.

Do I Need a Lawyer Before My Detention Hearing in New Jersey?

You should absolutely reach out to and hire an attorney as soon as possible after your arrest, because you will definitely want representation at the detention hearing, where a huge decision about whether or not you can be released from jail will be made. While it is unlikely for the judge to keep you detained unless you have committed a very serious offense like aggravated sexual assault or have a lengthy history of not appearing for court, there is always the possibility, and a skilled criminal lawyer for a detention hearing like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych can work to ensure that this is not the case. Through our years of experience fighting for clients at this hearing, we understand the factors the judge takes into consideration when making these decisions, such as the nature and severity of the offense, your criminal history or lack thereof, and your ties to the local community through family and employment. We can use this institutional knowledge and experience to make the most persuasive argument for the judge to release you with as few cumbersome conditions as possible.

However, if for some reason you are not able to reach out to us before your detention hearing has occurred, it is certainly not too late to retain us. If the judge decided to hold you in jail at the detention hearing, our veteran criminal defense attorneys can file a motion to modify the decision. If we are given the chance at a second hearing, we will take the time to learn about your background and paint a full and complete picture of you that the judge may not have seen the first time around, especially if you went without experienced counsel. Once we have gotten you released, we can turn our attentions to dealing with your underlying case and getting your charges downgraded or dismissed.

How Can a New Jersey Detention Hearing Lawyer Help Me After the Proceeding?

After the detention hearing, our lawyers will turn their focus to requesting all of the prosecution’s evidence, filing any motions, like a motion to exclude evidence obtained as a result of an illegal search and seizure, and try to work out a deal with the prosecutor. For first time offenders or those with a very minor record, pre-trial intervention (PTI) may be a possibility. If you successfully complete a PTI program, your charges will be dropped and you will not have a criminal record. Other possible deals we can work out include the prosecutor agreeing to reduce the charges, like from murder to manslaughter, or to recommend a lenient sentence to the judge if you plead guilty. Of course, if you are not interested in a deal, our battle-tested trial lawyers will leave no stone unturned fighting for a not guilty verdict in the courtroom.

If You Are Facing a Detention Hearing in NJ, Call Our Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyers Right Away

A rule of thumb in a criminal case is to get yourself a skilled lawyer as early on as possible, so that you will be fully represented and your rights will be protected at every stage of the case, including your detention hearing. At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our veteran attorneys for a detention hearing have the experience to successfully guide you through this hearing and beyond and work to bring your case to the best possible end. Call our office at (609) 616-4956 today for a free consultation.