Being the loved one of someone who has been arrested can be a stressful experience. You understand that your loved one is relying on you for assistance through this process, but you may have no idea who to call or what to do next to best assist them. The best thing that you can do for your loved one is to retain the services of an experienced Atlantic City criminal defense attorney like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych to help guide you through this often-complex process. Below, our attorneys explain the arrest process in New Jersey as well as what happens post-arrest.
How to Find Out Where Your Arrested Loved One is Being Held in New Jersey
After a person has been arrested, they must undergo what is known as the “booking” process. During this process, the police will take the arrestee’s biographical information, search their person and secure any belongings they may have, fingerprint them, and take a booking photo. The booking process can take place at either the local police station where the arrest occurred or the county holding center.
The police will give you information about whether your loved one is in custody, but you first are going to have to track down where they are being held. If you know the town where the arrest occurred, calling the local police station there is a good first step. If they do not have the individual in their custody, they may be able to refer you to the holding facility that does.
Once you learn where your loved one is being held, you may be tempted to rush right over there to be with them. However, the best thing you can do to ensure that their rights are protected is to contact a South Jersey criminal defense attorney who may be able to come with you to the station or holding center. The attorney will make sure that your loved one is not speaking with the police and potentially incriminating themselves without the presence of knowledgeable counsel.
How to Bail Someone Out of Custody in New Jersey
In 2017, the New Jersey legislature passed a law virtually eliminating cash bail in the state. This means that gone are the days when your ability to be released from detention while your underlying criminal matter played out depended on whether or not you could afford to pay a certain amount in bail money. Now, the judge will consider multiple factors in deciding whether to release someone, including their previous criminal history, the severity of the alleged crime and whether it might make them a danger to the community, and their flight risk.
Under this new system, it is more important than ever that you have a lawyer arguing for your loved one at their bail hearing. You cannot assume that just because you have money, your loved one will be released. If the crime is considered severe, they may be held in jail pending the case’s resolution. In addition, under the new system judges often impose conditions on those released, such as the requirement to wear an ankle monitor at all times. An experienced Atlantic City bail hearing attorney like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych can make the case to the judge that your loved one should be released without inconvenient conditions.
What Happens After You’re Taken Into Custody in NJ?
In New Jersey, there are two major classes of charges that can be brought against someone: disorderly persons offenses and indictable offenses. Below, we explain the difference in post-arrest procedure for disorderly persons offenses versus indictable offenses.
Disorderly Persons Offenses
Disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey are essentially the equivalent of what are known as misdemeanors in other states. In New Jersey, these types of charges are handled entirely through the municipal court system. The first step in the process will be a municipal court arraignment where your charges are read to you and you will enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. An attorney will almost certainly advise you to enter a not guilty plea at this point so they can have time to negotiate a deal with the prosecutor and collect evidence to see how strong the other side’s case is.
For disorderly persons offenses, there is no right to a jury trial. If you choose to proceed to trial, the trial will be before a judge.
For an indictable offense, the arraignment will not occur right away because the prosecutor will need to take their charges before a grand jury and get the grand jury to approve the charges to indict you. A grand jury consists of 23 citizens, and they can vote to indict by a majority vote. They do not need to be unanimous.
If the majority of the grand jury votes to indict, your case will be transferred from the local municipal court to the county superior court. At this point, your criminal defense lawyer will make requests for discovery, which consists of all of the evidence against you that the State has gathered. Your lawyer may also attempt to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor so you could plea to a lesser charge, perhaps even a disorderly persons offense, in which case your matter will be remanded to the municipal court. If you choose to take your case to trial and the charge is an indictable offense, you will have the option to request a jury trial where the jury must unanimously vote to convict.
If You are Trying to Track Down a Loved One Who Has Been Arrested in New Jersey, Our Lawyers Can Help
At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our experienced team of criminal defense lawyers in Cape May understands how to navigate the complex bureaucracy of the New Jersey justice system. We can help you figure out where your loved one is being held and fight to get them released without conditions while the underlying matter is resolved. We will aggressively defend your case and take it to trial if necessary. If your loved one is facing criminal charges and you want to help, call us today at (609) 616-4956 for a free, totally confidential consultation.