No one ever expects to be placed under arrest, yet statistics tell a different story. Hundreds of New Jerseyans are arrested every single day, with state police reporting close to 189,000 arrests from January to November of 2015 alone. With any luck, you will never become one of them; but if you are ever arrested in Atlantic City, this article will explain what to expect from the process that follows. If one of your family members is currently in custody, you may also be interested in reading our article about how to bail someone out of the Atlantic County Jail.
Common Criminal Charges in Atlantic City
Due to its large number of gambling establishments, casino crimes are another common source of arrests in Atlantic City, even prompting the New Jersey State Police in 1988 to create a specialized Casino Gaming Bureau. According to the Office of the Attorney General, the Casino Gaming Bureau initiates about 1,500 criminal investigations each year, of which about 53% – roughly 800 – eventually result in someone’s arrest. Some common examples of casino crimes in Atlantic City include:
- Pulling false fire alarms.
- Writing bad checks.
- Assault and sexual assault.
- Public intoxication and disorderly conduct.
Contrary to what you often see reported on the news, it’s fairly rare for defendants to be charged with violent felonies. According to official records, the Atlantic City Police Department didn’t make a single arrest for murder, rape, or aggravated assault in 2015. Police data shows that most arrests made in New Jersey stem from theft crimes and simple assault.
What Happens During the Booking Process?
Once you are placed under arrest, the arresting officer will transport you to either a police station or a holding center for “booking,” or the process of compiling information about the person under arrest. The Atlantic County Police Department is headquartered at 2715 Atlantic Avenue, and can be contacted by calling (609) 347-5300. The Atlantic City holding center is the Gerard L. Gormley Justice Facility – more commonly known as the Atlantic County Jail.
Depending on how busy the police are and how many defendants are involved in the alleged crime, booking can take anywhere from 15 minutes to several hours. During booking, the police will:
- Make a record of your name and the criminal charges.
- Take a booking photo, which is called a mugshot.
- Take your fingerprints.
- Conduct a search of your person.
- Look up any outstanding warrants which may have been issued against you.
- Take any property on your person, including your clothing, into custody. Excepting evidence and/or contraband, such as marijuana or a firearm, your property will be returned to you once you are released from custody.
How Long Can You Be Held in Custody? What About Posting Bail?
You cannot be held in custody indefinitely. Your “right to a speedy trial,” which is ensured by the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, provides that the prosecutor has only 72 hours in which to file charges against you. If no charges are filed by the 72-hour deadline, you should be released by police, though extensions may be granted in certain circumstances. If charges are filed, your “pre-arraignment conference” – during which you can apply for PTI (Pretrial Intervention), or start to negotiate a plea bargain – must be held within 21 days of your indictment (formal criminal charges).
There are a few different ways to be released from custody:
- You or one of your loved ones posts bail on your behalf. Once a criminal complaint has been filed, bail must be set in 12 hours or less. “Excessive bail” is prohibited by Article I, Section 12 of the New Jersey Constitution, so if you have any concerns that you or your loved one’s bail is unreasonable, you should contact an attorney immediately, as it may be possible to have the bail amount reduced. If the bail is bondable, you or your loved one can use a bail bond company to help cover the cost of posting bail.
- You qualify for Release on Recognizance (ROR). ROR is a type of cost-free bail which requires only that you sign some documents and pledge to return for your next scheduled court date. Because it doesn’t require a payment, ROR is generally made available only to non-violent individuals with strong community ties and no known risk of fleeing law enforcement.
It’s extremely important to return for all of your future court dates. If you fail to appear, the judge can issue a warrant for your arrest, which will only result in additional fines and penalties while further complicating the underlying charges against you. Furthermore, if you were released on a bail bond and fail to appear in court, the bail company may send a bounty hunter to retrieve you.
If one of your loved ones was arrested in Atlantic County, it’s important to make sure that their legal rights are being protected by a skilled and experienced Atlantic City criminal defense attorney. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 to set up a free and private consultation today.