Ocean County, NJ Attorney for a Criminal Arraignment
Numerous important hearings and proceedings happen before you have a trial. One such important hearing is the arraignment. Arraignments happen shortly after charges are formally imposed against you. The purpose of the arraignment is to inform defendants of the official charges against them and allow them to enter a plea. The arrangement can be used to develop your case strategy as well.
The arraignment is more than simply standing before a judge and being read a list of criminal charges. Several other stages come before the arraignment that can give you an idea of the direction of your case and what your strategy should be. If you do not have an attorney representing you by the time of your arraignment, it is imperative you hire one now. An attorney can help you navigate this process and make important strategic decisions.
If you were recently arrested for a crime in New Jersey, you likely have multiple hearings coming up, including an arraignment. Our Ocean County, New Jersey criminal arraignment attorneys can help you through this process. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 to set up a free legal consultation.
What Happens at Your Criminal Arraignment in Ocean County, New Jersey?
Your criminal arraignment happens after being indicted by a grand jury. A grand jury is convened only for defendants charged with indictable crimes, akin to felonies in other jurisdictions. If you face lesser offenses like disorderly persons offenses, you will not face a grand jury, and your case will go through municipal court. The arraignment serves to prove defendants with formal notice of their charges. Defendants will also enter a plea at this time.
The arraignment must happen within 14 days of a grand jury indictment. Remember, an indictment is not a finding of guilt, and your arraignment is not sentencing. Your arraignment is where you are formally informed of all the charges against you, and you must decide what to do next. You will be allowed to enter a plea that will dictate the course of your case.
This is also an opportunity to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor. At this point, you will have a good idea of what kind of evidence there is against you and how the prosecutor intends to handle your case. You may want to strike a bargain with prosecutors to avoid the worst possible outcome. If you end up pleading guilty at your arraignment, whether part of a plea agreement or not, the judge will order a pre-sentence investigation and schedule a sentencing hearing.
The arraignment tends to happen earlier in the criminal justice process, and you might not yet have an attorney representing your interests. Our Ocean County, New Jersey criminal arraignment attorneys can help you.
Preparing for Your Criminal Arraignment in Ocean County, New Jersey
The official purpose of your arraignment is to provide you with notice of your charges and allow you to enter a plea. However, the arraignment may be used to develop your case strategy with your defense attorney.
Before you get to the arraignment, prosecutors must provide you and your attorney with all the evidence and information they have against you. This exchange of information is known as the discovery process and is required in all cases. Prosecutors might be in trouble if they fail to provide you with full discovery.
The evidence obtained through the discovery process can help you understand the prosecutor’s strategy. Depending on what you learn, you can adjust your defense strategy. If we believe full discovery has not been disclosed and we are missing key information, we can bring this up at the arraignment.
In addition, you can enter a plea at your arraignment based on the information learned prior. If it looks like the prosecutor has a strong case against you, a plea negotiation might be in order. If not, you can plead not guilty and begin preparation for a trial. Call our Ocean County, New Jersey criminal arraignment lawyers for help.
Entering a Plea at Your Ocean County, New Jersey Criminal Arraignment
You will be given the opportunity to enter a plea at your criminal arraignment. You can enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. It is important to discuss your plea with an attorney ahead of time as each has different consequences.
If you plead not guilty, the court will schedule your trial, and preparations by prosecutors and your defense attorney will begin. This plea can be changed later if you choose. If you are still unsure how you should plead, it may be wise to enter a not guilty plea and request to adjust it later if necessary.
If you plead guilty, you will waive your right to a trial, and the judge will begin preparations for sentencing. This plea should not be taken lightly as it is much harder to change later. A guilty plea may also limit your options on appeal. The appeals process is designed to look for legal errors during your trial. If you plead guilty, there is no trial, and your appeal options are restricted.
A no-contest plea has a similar effect as a guilty plea because it triggers the sentencing phase while waiving your right to a trial. However, a no-contest plea is technically not an admission of guilt that can be used against you in a related civil case. It is more like an admission that prosecutors are likely to prove their case against you.
For help deciding how to plead in your criminal case, call our Ocean County, New Jersey criminal arraignment attorneys for guidance.
Call Our Ocean County, New Jersey Criminal Arraignment Attorneys
Your arraignment is an early yet crucial stage of the process, and you should have a lawyer there to help you. Contact our Ocean County, New Jersey criminal arraignment attorneys for help. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 to schedule a free legal consultation today.