Intake in New Jersey Criminal Cases

police with handcuffs

If you or a loved one has been arrested for the first time, believe you may be charged with a crime, or know of an outstanding warrant for your arrest in Union County, New Jersey, you likely have many questions about what to expect in your dealings with law enforcement in these early stages of your criminal case. The term “intake” refers to the initial process of your criminal case and involves an arrest, charging, and booking. Understanding the intake process in an NJ criminal case and knowing your legal options is vital to protecting your rights.

When You Are Arrested in NJ, Are You Charged With a Crime?

A common misunderstanding about an arrest is the belief that being arrested is the same thing as being charged with a crime or that every arrest involves criminal charges. While individuals who are arrested are often also charged with a criminal offense, the charges do not take effect until they are filed by the police or prosecutor.

When you are placed under arrest in New Jersey, it simply means that the police have probable cause to believe that you committed an offense. Probable cause is also the requisite standard for filing criminal charges, but that is a separate, subsequent event. This applies no matter what the charges are, including crimes such as shopliftingsimple assaultmarijuana distributionburglarysexual assault, and unlawful possession of a weapon.

Do Police Have to Read Me My Rights?

Anytime you are taken into police custody—that is, a situation in which a reasonable person would not feel that they have the freedom to leave—you have a 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination. This allows you to refuse to answer questions from the police. Once you are taken into police custody, the police are required to inform you of these rights by giving you your “Miranda warnings” before they ask you any questions.

When giving you your Miranda rights, the police should state that you have the right to remain silent, that anything you say could be held against you in court, that you have the right to an attorney, and if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.

What Happens During Booking for NJ Criminal Charges?

The term “booking” refers to processing a defendant when criminal charges are filed. This process includes taking biometrics of the defendant (like fingerprints), photographing the defendant, seizing articles of clothing, obtaining pedigree information like age, weight, height, social security number, and any other information used by law enforcement to verify identify, and conducting a search of any outstanding warrants for the individual.

Larger police departments may have personnel designated to process defendants. If you are arrested by and booked at a smaller police department, the officer who arrested you may complete this process. In addition to collecting information about you, the officer will also ask you about and check for any observable medical conditions, communicable conditions like lice, determine whether you are under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, and if you need medical attention for anything like diabetes or another condition.

Depending on the cooperation of the defendant, booking could take 45 minutes to an hour, or much longer if the defendant is uncooperative with answering basic questions about their identify, is refusing to submit to fingerprinting, needs medical attention, or there is any other delay in processing.

What Happens When a Minor Is Arrested in New Jersey?

When a juvenile is taken in custody in New Jersey there are special rules and procedures that must be followed. First, law enforcement should contact the juvenile’s parent or guardian right away to notify them that the child is in police custody. When the juvenile is processed or booked, this process should take place in a separate area away from an adult arrest processing area. A juvenile should also be held in custody in a separate area. New Jersey law also has stringent rules about keeping minors in detention. If your child is arrested, it is essential to have an experienced attorney fighting to keep them out of police custody and with a clean record that does not deter them from achieving their future goals.

Need a Lawyer After Arrest in Union County, NJ

Being put into the criminal justice system can be a stressful ordeal, as your rights and liberty are at stake. If you or your loved one have been arrested and charged with a crime in Union County, New Jersey, it is crucial that you hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to defend you. The lawyers at our firm have successfully defended countless clients against disorderly persons offenses and indictable (felony) offenses in New Jersey. Call our office in Cranford right away at (908) 838-0150 for a free consultation with an attorney who can help.

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.