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Criminal Law: After Arrest Legal Procedure

Know Your Rights – After Arrest Legal Procedure in New Jersey

After arrest, a person is either released on a Summons or is held on a Warrant. A warrant requires him/her to post bail. A judge sets bail, and the individual (defendant) is brought before a judge. This usually happens on the next business day. The charges are read to him/her and the person is told that he/she has a right to an attorney.  If he/she cannot afford one, then he/she is entitled to the services of a public defender. The person is also warned that anything he/she says can be used against him/her.

Defendants charged with crimes (felony) have their bail reviewed by a superior court judge on the next business day. An attorney can file a bail motion to reduce the bail on behalf of a defendant. Depending on the county, the bail motion will be heard either that week or the following week.

An experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney can frequently call the prosecutors office. If he or she has a good relationship with that office, he or she can arrange for a lower bail by consent with the prosecutor’s office. This saves the client a week or more in jail that the client would otherwise wait for a bail motion to be heard.  A juvenile (a person under 18 years old) can be held without bail. The decision on whether to release the juvenile is reviewed the next business day and periodically thereafter.

Crimes (felonies) are reviewed by the County Prosecutor’s Office. This office determines whether to:

  • Take the case to the Grand Jury and proceed in Superior Court;
  • Dismiss; or
  • Send the case back to Municipal Court.

An experienced defense attorney will contact the prosecutor’s office early. An aggressive defense attorney will present the prosecutor with positive information about the client and attempt to obtain pre-indictment discovery. The attorney can decide to present the prosecutor with information to:

  • Counter the state’s case;
  • Give information that mitigates the involvement of the client; or
  • Demonstrates the client’s innocence where applicable.

The experienced NJ attorney will make an important recommendation as to whether to have the client testify before a grand jury (the attorney must ask the prosecutor to allow the client to testify) based on various factors including but not limited to:

  • The strength of the state’s proofs;
  • The proofs that the defense can provide through the client;
  • The client’s ability to make a good impression and personality; and
  • The attorney’s knowledge about the prosecutor presenting the case to the grand jury.

An experienced aggressive attorney will often use the services of an experienced expert early in the case. The expert may be an investigator, an engineer, doctor, psychologist, retired police man, or others to help develop the client’s case or defense. It is very important to find a good attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights.

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