If you have recently been charged with an indictable offense (a first, second, third, or fourth degree crime) in New Jersey, you will soon have a pre-indictment conference, where your lawyer and the prosecutor will have an opportunity to meet and discuss your case. It is important to note that a pre-indictment conference in Hudson County is commonly referred to as Early-Disposition Conference or “EDC”. Your EDC hearing is a very important stage in your criminal case and may present the opportunity to avoid an indictment completely, make an agreement to a lesser charge, have your case remanded to the municipal court, or even administratively dismissed altogether. If you have received a notice for your EDC court date in Hudson County, New Jersey, or expect to receive one soon, you may be wondering what it means and what you should do. In this article, our experienced Jersey City criminal defense attorneys explain the importance of the pre-indictment conference and answer some of the most common questions our clients have about this part of the criminal process. For a free consultation about your criminal case in Hudson County, feel free to contact us at (201) 793-8018.
When Will My Pre-indictment Conference Occur?
Your pre-indictment conference will be scheduled after you are charged with an indictable offense, but before you are indicted on the offense. If you have been charged with an indictable crime in Hudson County you will first receive a date for Criminal Judicial Processing or “CJP” where your case will be screened by the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office. At CJP the prosecutor can decide to keep your case up at the Hudson County Superior Court or remand it back down to the municipal court as a lesser charge. Almost all criminal cases that are kept up at the Superior Court after CJP will be given an EDC court date prior to being presented to a grand jury. In New Jersey, you have a right to be indicted by a grand jury if you are charged with an indictable offense—which is a crime punishable by imprisonment in NJ State Prison and equivalent to a felony in other states.
Where Will My Pre-indictment Conference Take Place?
The location of your pre-indictment conference will be at the Superior Court, Criminal Division in the county where the criminal charges were filed against you. The address will be printed on the notice you receive for your pre-indictment conference. For example, if you are charged with an indictable offense such as aggravated assault, heroin possession, distribution of marijuana, or unlawful possession of a weapon in Hoboken, your pre-indictment conference will occur in Hudson County Superior Court located at 595 Newark Avenue in Jersey City. At the time of this article, EDC cases are currently being handled by Judge DePascale in Room 715.
What Happens During My Pre-indictment Conference?
One of the goals of EDC in Hudson County is to lessen the burden of the court’s docket and resolve cases ahead of time, when possible. Before your pre-indictment conference, the prosecutor will review their evidence and consider how strong it is, how serious your crime was, and whether the case is worth their time and resources. Generally, if the prosecutor is willing to enter into a plea agreement, they will have the plea offer ready for you and your lawyer to review and consider at the pre-indictment conference. You can accept the plea offer, reject the offer, or your lawyer can discuss your case with the prosecutor and try to convince them to either drop the charges against you or enter into a plea agreement for a lesser charge. To do this, your lawyer might point out the weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case against you, the strengths of your defense, and emphasize any other factors that are in your favor.
Do I Need a Lawyer for My Early Disposition Conference?
The pre-indictment conference is a critical stage in your case and being represented by an experienced criminal defense lawyer is crucial because your lawyer might be able to work out a plea agreement with the prosecutor. It is important to note that the pre-indictment stage involves limited discovery, which means that you might only see the strongest evidence that the prosecutor has against you and you may not see evidence they have which would tend to weaken the prosecution’s case. Having a lawyer present with you during this process is extremely beneficial, as an experienced criminal defense lawyer can utilize their past experience to evaluate the strength of the prosecution’s claim, even when they are putting up a tough front. Your lawyer may advise you to move forward with a trial because the case is weak, they may be able to negotiate a better deal that works in your favor, or they can help you apply for a diversionary program such as Pretrial Intervention whereby the charges will be dismissed after a probationary period.
Pre-indictment Conference (EDC) Lawyer in Hudson County
The criminal defense lawyers at William Proetta Criminal Law have handled countless pre-indictment conferences in Hudson County and throughout New Jersey. We have extensive experience negotiating with prosecutors and are always committed to achieving the best possible outcomes for our clients. If you have been charged with an indictable offense in Hudson County or elsewhere in New Jersey, contact our Jersey City office today at (201) 793-8018. Consultations are always provided free of charge.