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What is an Arraignment in a New Jersey Criminal Case?

April 7, 2021 | Posted In Criminal Law

When you get charged with a criminal offense in New Jersey, there are several steps before your case goes to trial. One of the earliest steps in the process is your arraignment. In this article, our New Jersey criminal defense attorney explains what an arraignment is, what it is not, and what you should do to get ready for your appearance in court.

What is an Arraignment in a New Jersey Criminal Case?

In a New Jersey criminal case, an arraignment is a formal court proceeding during which you will appear before a judge. During the first appearance (usually the day after the arrest), the judge informs you of charges and other information. The judge either releases you with conditions or holds you. If the prosecutor has asked for detention, there is a detention hearing 3 days later.

If you are being charged with a disorderly persons offense, your arraignment will be the first time you appear in court in response to your criminal charge. If you are being charged with an indictable crime, then the arraignment will follow the grand jury proceedings.  

How is an Arraignment Different from Other Court Proceedings in a Criminal Case?

An arraignment is different from other court proceedings in that it is much more limited in scope. Unlike a grand jury proceeding or trial, there will not be prosecutors arguing that you deserve to be convicted and incarcerated. Instead, the judge will ask you some basic (but important) questions, and then he or she will determine the next steps in your case based on the charge(s) against you and the answer(s) you provide.

What Should You Do to Prepare for Your Arraignment?

While an arraignment is a fairly straightforward legal proceeding in New Jersey, it is still important to be thoroughly prepared. You need to know what to expect, what to say (and not say), and what to do once your arraignment is over. With this in mind, if you have been charged with a crime in New Jersey, you should:

  • Make Sure You Know the Date of Your Arraignment – You need to make sure you show up for your arraignment on time. If you don’t, the judge could issue a bench warrant for your arrest.
  • Make Sure You Know How You are Going to Plead – When you are standing in front of the judge, you need to be prepared. Among other things, this means knowing how you are going to plead.
  • Discuss Your Case with a Criminal Defense Attorney – If you have an arraignment scheduled, you should discuss your case with a New Jersey criminal defense attorney. Your attorney can determine what defenses you have available, help you decide how to plead, and explain your next steps after your arraignment.

Speak with a New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney Today

Are you scheduled for an arraignment in New Jersey? If so, we strongly recommend that you speak with an attorney right away. To schedule a confidential consultation with a New Jersey criminal defense attorney at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., call 877-435-6371 or tell us how we can reach you online now.

Over 20 attorneys at HCK have extensive experience in defending criminal cases as they were former assistant prosecutors and/or police officers for a combined total of over 600 years of law enforcement experience. You can find out more about them on our site, and you can call Managing Partner Ron Helmer on his cell phone at 609 685-0665.

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