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How Does the New Jersey Criminal Process Work?

New Jersey criminal defense trial attorney

For someone who’s never been through the legal system before, the first encounter can be an overwhelming and confusing experience. Don’t attempt to represent yourself or navigate the legal world alone – it is always best to hire a New Jersey criminal defense trial attorney as soon as possible. As an experienced defender of the accused, a New Jersey criminal defense trial attorney will review your case and develop winning defense strategies in order to get the best outcome possible.

Basic Criminal Procedures

The steps in criminal procedure are very similar in all states, but they do vary slightly. Below is a basic guide on criminal procedures in New Jersey, from the perspective of a seasoned New Jersey criminal defense trial attorney.

  1. Arrest and Miranda Warning. If a police officer has the requisite standard of proof to believe an offense took place or is taking place, he can make an arrest. This includes probable cause, his own eyewitness account, or an arrest warrant. If you are taken into custody and are subject to interrogation, the police must have read you the Miranda warning. If you are arrested and were not read this warning, nothing said to the police is admissible.
  2. Booking. After arrest, the police will proceed with the booking process at the jail. This includes finger printing, photographing, and in New Jersey, a medical screening.
  3. First Appearance. Usually within a day of your arrest, you have your first appearance hearing in court. The judge will advise you of your rights and review bail. Bail must be set within 12 hours of the complaint issuance.
  4. Plea Bargaining. For most cases, the prosecutor will offer the defendant a plea deal, a reduced term of jail or probation in exchange for a guilty plea. Sometimes, a dismissal of certain charges is part of the deal.
  5. Grand Jury Indictment. For felony cases in New Jersey, there is a grand jury during the pretrial procedure. This is held in secret without the defendant in attendance. If the grand jury finds that there is enough cause to believe you could have committed the crime, you will be indicted.
  6. Arraignment and Plea Options. No later than 50 days after your indictment, you will have a formal arraignment. This is where the formal complaint is read and you, the defendant, pleas either guilty or not guilty.
  7. Trial. Your trial will begin within 180 days. This is full of witness accounts, cross examinations, objections, evidentiary exhibits, and more. After both the prosecution and the defense rests, the jury will announce their verdict. If guilty, the sentencing stage is next.

Hire a New Jersey Criminal Defense Trial Attorney For Your Case

As you can see, there are many steps in New Jersey criminal procedure, and it can be extremely confusing for someone who is unfamiliar with it. Don’t risk your freedom – speak to Mark Catanzaro. He’s an experienced New Jersey criminal defense trial attorney who can help you. Call today.


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