If you or a loved one have been charged with a criminal offense in Middlesex County, New Jersey, you are likely eager to know what to expect next. Regardless of what type of crime you are charged with, the first few steps of police intake and processing are the same. Then, the process that follows may change depending on the severity of the charges and whether you are ordered to be detained while waiting for your trial. At every stage in the criminal process in New Jersey, it is important to understand your rights. Remember that you have the right to not answer questions from the police and should not speak to the police without a lawyer present.
What Happens Right After I’m Arrested?
After you are arrested in Middlesex County, you will be brought to the police station in the municipality where you were arrested. When the officer files a complaint against you, that is when your criminal case officially begins. It is also possible, but less common, for another citizen to file a complaint against you. Once a complaint is filed, the police will begin the intake or “booking” process. This will involve confiscating your personal belongings, taking your photo or a “mug shot”, taking your fingerprints, and recording biographical information like your name, age, address, social security number and other identifiers.
Will I Be Able to Go Home After I’m Charged With an Offense?
Whether you will be able to go home after you are processed by the police or if you will be detained depends on what type of offense you are charged with and whether you are considered to be at high risk for endangering another person’s safety, failing to appear in court, or obstructing justice.
If you are charged on a complaint-summons, you will be released on your own recognizance (ROR), which means that you will be released from police custody after you are processed and given a court date for your first appearance. In other words, you will likely be released if you are charged with a disorderly persons offense like possession of marijuana, shoplifting goods valued at $200 or less, drug paraphernalia, or disorderly conduct.
However, you may be required to appear before a judge for a detention hearing if you are charged on a complaint-warrant with an indictable offense like heroin distribution, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, intent to sell marijuana, aggravated assault, or theft of property with a value over $200. This is also the case if you have been charged with a domestic violence offense such as simple assault. To be detained, the prosecutor must first file a motion for detention in your case and then a judge will determine whether you should be released or detained at a detention hearing.
When Will I See a Judge if I’m Being Detained?
If you are not released on your own recognizance, you will be taken to Middlesex County Jail, located between Apple Orchard Lane and Route 130 in North Brunswick Township, NJ 08902. The next day—or on Monday if you are arrested over the weekend—you will have your first appearance before a judge and the judge will inform you of the charges against you. Your detention hearing may be scheduled for the same day as your first appearance or just a few days later. If you are not held in custody after your arrest and you are released on your own recognizance, then the date of your first appearance before a judge will be listed on the complaint you receive from the police.
What if They Want to Keep Me in Jail?
At your detention hearing, the judge will review your Public Safety Assessment (PSA) score and other recommendations to determine whether you should be released pending trial. New Jersey recently did away with the traditional bail system and no longer collects bail payments. Instead, the judge must release you unless he or she determines that no condition or set of conditions could reasonably assure that you will not be a threat to others, fail to appear in court, or obstruct the criminal justice system. This often presents a serious issue for defendants in domestic violence cases, as being accused of this type of offense by nature means you are a threat to someone else. Regardless of the charges you’re facing, you should not appear before a judge for a bail hearing without a defense attorney.
New Brunswick Defense Attorney for Arrest
Being arrested is likely one of the most stressful events you will experience in your life. When your liberty is at stake, it is crucial to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer to advocate on your behalf. If you have been arrested and charged with a crime in Middlesex County, do not face these charges alone. Contact our local law office in Middlesex County at (732) 659-9600 for a free consultation and we will be happy to review your case. The attorneys at William Proetta Criminal Law have successfully handled criminal cases in virtually every court in Middlesex County, including New Brunswick Municipal Court and Middlesex County Superior Court. We will work tirelessly to defend your rights and seek the best possible outcome for your case.