It can be hard for someone who has just been arrested or indicted to understand what will happen next. We will look at what generally arises from the moment a person is taken into custody. It is always recommended to contact a criminal defense attorney in Jersey City as early as possible to protect your rights and increase your chances of a better outcome.

Criminal Process: Arrest and Request for Bail

After an individual is taken into custody, they will be taken to a police station to be “booked” or officially charged. The state of New Jersey divides criminal charges into two broad categories – disorderly person offenses and indictable crimes. The first is classified as a misdemeanor, while indictable crimes are more severe and usually considered a felony. At this stage, a defendant may be released or remain in custody, depending on the crime committed. For those who are held in jail, a bail payment amount is set.

First Appearance & Pre-Trial Intervention

Within 72 hours of being arrested, a defendant will appear before a judge. This is when the judge will formally explain the charges being held against the defendant and review their rights. The judge will also consider bail. This is when a defendant who cannot afford to pay for legal counseling fees may request to be represented by a public defender.

During this appearance, a judge may offer the defendant the option of participating in a pre-trial intervention program. In cases where substance abuse was determined as the root cause for the crime, non-violent, first-time offenders may be able to undergo treatment and counseling in place of jail time. Those who complete the program may be able to have charges dismissed.

Pre-Indictment Stage

After the first appearance, defendants will have their case examined by a prosecutor’s staff to determine whether there is enough evidence for the original charges to be prosecuted, or if the case can be downgraded or “remanded” to the municipal court as a disorderly person offense, or dismissed altogether. At this stage, defense attorneys have the opportunity to conduct plea bargain negotiations in some cases. By accepting a plea deal, a defendant may be able to avoid going to trial by pleading guilty to a lesser offense. If a case cannot be resolved or dismissed at this point, it will go to trial.

Pre-Trial Conference and Trial

Before the trial, a judge will examine the case to make sure it is complete, that no motions are pending and that there has been enough to settle the case before resorting to a trial. During the trial, the prosecution will present its case first, followed by the defense’s arguments. After hearing both sides and closing statements, a jury will deliberate and either find the defendant guilty or not guilty of the charges. A “not guilty” verdict means the defendant will be set free. A “guilty” verdict means the judge will sentence the defendant at a date set at the end of the trial. Those convicted have the right to appeal their case.

Get Help For Your Case

If you are facing charges or have been arrested, contact the Law Offices of Keith Hirschorn, P.C. as soon as possible to speak with a defense attorney. New Jersey laws are complex, and our team is well-versed in helping clients navigate them to receive fair treatment and achieve a better outcome for their case. Call us at 201-798-4024 to get started.