Steps in a Criminal Case

steps in a criminal caseIf you have been arrested and charged with a crime in the state of New Jersey, it is important that you put yourself into the hands of an experienced criminal defense attorney as quickly as possible. The state’s criminal legal process follows highly specific steps that can be confusing and can leave a defendant vulnerable to saying or doing something that will jeopardize their ability to get the best outcome possible. Call the Law Offices of Richard B. Josselson at the first sign of trouble and let us guide you through the process.

Though a criminal case can seem overwhelming, the more you know what to expect and understand the process, the more in control you will feel. Here are the steps in a criminal case in New Jersey:

  • The Arrest – The state permits arrests to be made by any officer that believes that an offense has occurred as long as they have probable cause, actually witnesses the criminal act, or have a warrant for your arrest. Being arrested includes being taken into custody.
  • The Miranda Warning – Having Miranda rights read is something that anybody who has ever watched a crime show is familiar with, and it is an important part of the process. Every person who is charged with a crime has certain specific rights, including the right to an attorney, and if the arresting officer fails in their duty to provide you with your Miranda rights then nothing that you say to them can be used against you in court.
  • Booking – Once you have been taken into custody you will be brought to the jail, where an administrator will take down your personal information, fingerprint and photograph you, and take possession of any personal property. You will also be given a medical screening.
  • First Appearance in Court – This usually occurs within a day or two of arrest, but if you are arrested on a holiday or weekend there may be a delay. The first appearance is often when you defendant is arraigned, which is when they are told what the charges are against them.
  • Bail Being Set – After the charges are cited at the arraignment, the defendant’s bail opportunities are reviewed and established. This is supposed to happen within twelve hours of the complaint. Once you pay bail you will be released from custody.
  • Plea Bargaining – This usually takes place prior to a trial, and consists of the defense and prosecution discussing a compromise that – if successfully – will usually reduce the charges against you.
  • Grand Jury Indictment – If you have been accused of a felony there will be a grand jury hearing to determine whether probable cause existed for your arrest. If the jury agrees with the arresting officer then you will be indicted.
  • Formal Arraignment – This must take place in less than two months after an indictment by the grand jury. The formal charge is read in court and you have the opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty.
  • Trial, Verdict, and Sentence – Whether your case goes to trial in front of a judge or a jury, the trial is when your attorney can question witnesses and argue in your defense.

This has represented only the briefest overview of the criminal process in the state of New Jersey. For a more in-depth discussion and to learn more about how the Law Offices of Richard B. Josselson can help, contact us today.

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