If you're facing domestic violence charges or a loved one has been recently arrested, you should be aware of the steps that New Jersey's legal system follows. By understanding the process ahead, you can make sound decisions and—with the help of an experienced attorney—work to mitigate harm.
Arraignment is an important step in the handling of a domestic violence case. An attorney can accompany you or your loved one to their arraignment. The same lawyer will then follow the hearing with a robust defense against the domestic violence charges.
What Happens After an Arrest for Domestic Violence in New Jersey?
If you or a loved one are arrested on a charge that qualifies as domestic violence, then you'll typically be detained, booked into jail, and eventually allowed to post bail or be released without having to post bail.
New Jersey has implemented legislation that makes cash bail a "last resort" for the courts to ensure someone appears at trial. Because of such legislation, you may be released on your own recognizance without having to post bail.
Depending on your criminal record, perceived risk of flight, and other case-specific considerations, the judge in your case may require that:
● You do not travel outside of certain geographical confines without first receiving permission from the court
● You abstain from visiting certain locales, or socializing with certain individuals
● You continue to work
● You maintain contact with the court, perhaps via law enforcement officials
● You meet other criteria imposed by the judge
You may also be bound by the terms of a restraining order once you leave jail. Between the time of your release and your arraignment hearing, there will be many rules to follow. Having an attorney explain and remind you of the boundaries of your freedom can be helpful.
If the state decides to pursue domestic violence charges against you, your initial release is far from the end of the legal process. An arraignment may be the next step in your case.
What Is Arraignment, and How Does It Pertain to a Domestic Violence Case?
An arraignment hearing may occur at the same time as your bail hearing. In some cases, the defendant is released (on bail or their own recognizance) and receives a date to return to court for an arraignment hearing.
Whenever your arraignment hearing occurs, you can expect:
● The judge presiding over your case to formally list the charges that the state is pursuing against you
● The court to provide you and your attorney a physical copy of the criminal complaint
● The judge to address any bail-related issues that they deem necessary
● The judge to inform you of your rights
● The judge to request a plea from you
When it comes time to enter your plea, you have three options: Guilty, no contest, or not guilty. You should have discussed this plea with your attorney before your arraignment hearing, with no confusion as to which plea you will enter.
The arraignment hearing is a critical juncture in a domestic violence case. You should have your attorney by your side to ensure that you answer each question properly.
Reasons to Have an Attorney Accompany You to Your Arraignment Hearing
If you aren't fully prepared or fail to act with restraint and caution during your arraignment hearing, you may face severe consequences—including pleading guilty to a crime that you have not committed. By having a trusted attorney represent you during the arraignment process, you may:
● Avoid having to speak with the judge except to enter your plea, protecting you from saying anything incriminating or otherwise harmful
● Have a knowledgeable lawyer ensure you've entered the plea that you intend to enter
● Have an advocate who will contest any adverse rulings by the judge, such as the imposition of exorbitant bail or draconian limits on your freedom
There is absolutely no reason to attend an arraignment hearing without an attorney present. Your lawyer can also explain the stages to come, which will vary based on whether you enter a plea of not guilty or pleas of either no contest or guilty.
If You Enter a Guilty or No Contest Plea, Then…
If you and your attorney decide to enter a plea of "guilty" or "no contest", then the legal process will be relatively brief. The court may then explain the sentence against you, strike the gavel, and you will proceed with the agreed-upon consequences of your plea.
Depending on the details of your plea agreement, you may be remanded to the custody of the state or released with conditions—like probation—in place.
If You Enter a Not Guilty Plea, Then…
You may receive a trial date, and your case will proceed to the trial phase. At the designated times, your attorney will enter any pre-trial motions, participate in discovery, and defend you as the trial unfolds.
If you do intend to fight the charges against you, an attorney is a necessary asset. Our firm has ample experience defending clients at trial, and we will:
● Pursue any evidence that suggests you are not guilty
● Call and question any witnesses whose accounts support your defense
● Cross examine any witnesses that the state presents during your trial
● Make general arguments in your defense
● Combat any arguments that the state makes against you
We will work hard to show a jury that you are not guilty of the domestic violence allegations levied against you. Your freedom and reputation may be on the line, and we'll fight for you as if you were our own family member.
Call The Lento Law Firm Today. The Time of Your Arraignment Hearing May Be Rapidly Approaching
Whether you're the one facing domestic violence charges or you're helping a loved one, the time of your arraignment hearing is undoubtedly near. Even if the arraignment hearing has come and gone, it is smart to hire an attorney to fight domestic violence charges.
Start protecting your future today; hire Joseph D. Lento to seek the best possible outcome to your case.