Most of us are only familiar with the concept of the criminal justice system from watching the news or fictional movies or TV programs. As such, when you actually are arrested, you may be paralyzed with fear and completely unsure what you need to do to protect yourself and secure your freedom. When the police tell you that you are going to be facing a criminal arraignment, you might have no idea what this even means.
This is why it is imperative that you act as quickly as possible to retain an experienced Stone Harbor, NJ attorney for a criminal arraignment like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych. Our lawyers have many years of experience successfully fighting for our clients charged with all sorts of crimes. We will be there with you from your arraignment and beyond, answering any questions you may have and fighting to get the charges against you downgraded or dismissed. Call our firm today at (609) 616-4956 for a free consultation.
The Pre-Arraignment Process in Stone Harbor, NJ
Sometimes, for minor criminal matters like traffic issues, you will simply be issued a citation or summons with a date on it for your arraignment and the police will let you go on your way. If this happens to you, be sure to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych as soon as possible, so that we can try to reach out to the prosecutor and work out a deal for the matter to be resolved at arraignment. Typically, however, the police will arrest you if they believe you have committed a crime. Sometimes, they can arrest you on the spot, if they have probable cause, and other times there will be an investigation and the police will apply for an arrest warrant.
If the warrant is granted by the judge, the police will seek you out and place you under arrest. After your arrest, you will be booked at the local police station. The booking process involves you being photographed and fingerprinted and your biographical information being collected. Following booking, you will be kept in the station’s holding cell or at the local detention center until your bail hearing occurs, usually within 48 hours.
Criminal Arraignments in Stone Harbor, NJ
The criminal arraignment itself is a short and simple proceeding where you are read the charges against you, advised of your rights in a criminal case, and asked to enter an initial plea of guilty or not guilty. In disorderly persons offense cases, New Jersey’s equivalent of misdemeanors, the arraignment will occur at around the same time as the bail hearing. This does not give you very long after you have been arrested to retain a lawyer to represent you at this hearing. It is important that you or your loved ones reach out to a qualified arraignment attorney like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych right away so that we can be there for your arraignment, where we will likely advise to you plead not guilty while be get a better understanding of the strength of the case against you.
You are also certainly going to want to be represented by counsel at your bail hearing, which occurs fairly quickly after your arrest in both disorderly persons cases and indictable offense cases, New Jersey’s version of felonies. Since New Jersey virtually eliminated cash bail in 2017, the judge at this hearing will decide whether you can be released or must be held in jail until your criminal case is resolved based on such factors as your prior criminal history, flight risk, and the severity of the alleged crime. Our skilled bail hearing attorneys will know how to make the most persuasive argument for you to be released without any burdensome conditions.
After the arrest in an indictable offense case, the prosecutor must take the evidence before a grand jury, who must vote by a majority to indict if they believe there is enough there to move forward with a criminal case. If they issue an indictment, you will then be arraigned in the superior court. Similar to a disorderly persons offense case, your lawyer is likely to advise you to plead not guilty at this arraignment while they collect more evidence and work to negotiate a deal with the prosecutor.
The Post-Arraignment Process in Stone Harbor, NJ
After the arraignment and bail hearing have been resolved, the focus will turn in full to requesting discovery and negotiating a plea deal with the prosecutor, if you are interested in potentially taking one. For those without a lengthy criminal history and charged with a relatively minor offense, our attorneys may be able to convince the prosecutor to let you into a pre-trial intervention program. If you complete such a program successfully, your charges will be dropped and you will not have a criminal record. If pre-trial intervention is not possible in your case, we can try to work out a deal where the prosecutor recommends a lesser sentence or the charge is downgraded in exchange for you pleading guilty.
Of course, if you do not wish to take a deal, our experienced trial attorneys at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych are prepared to take your case to trial. For indictable offenses, you are entitled to a trial by jury. However, for disorderly persons offenses, you only have the right to a bench trial, where the judge alone makes the ruling on guilt or innocence.
Call Our Veteran Stone Harbor, NJ Attorneys for a Criminal Arraignment Today
Being charged with a crime is serious business. To protect yourself from facing serious, life-changing penalties, the best thing you can is to retain an experienced Stone Harbor, NJ attorney for a criminal arraignment as soon as possible. The faster we get to work on your case, the better chance we have of bringing the matter to a successful resolution. For a free consultation, call our office today at (609) 616-4956.