Criminal & Municipal Court

Mongello & Scialabba has developed an extensive practice in the criminal and municipal courts in almost every county in the State in order to serve clients’ needs for minor offenses, as well as more serious offenses which may be charged in the Superior Court.

If You Have Been Charged With:

  • Any Indictable Crime
  • Any Criminal Offense
  • Pre-Trial Intervention and Other Pleas
  • Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
  • Refusing to take a Breathalyzer Test
  • Driving without insurance
  • Driving on a Revoked or Suspended License
  • Reckless or Careless Driving
  • Speeding
  • Motor Vehicle Violations
  • Traffic Tickets
  • Local Ordinance Violations
  • Any other Moving Violation

    Call us immediately at 908-561-7778. We will answer all of your questions, and we will not charge an initial consultation fee.

    In each case, our goal is the same: to confidently handle the charges to achieve the best result possible under the circumstances and the law.

    If you have been charged with a crime, contact us as soon as possible. The quicker you get an attorney involved, the better your chances at resolving your matter more successfully.


Below are some Frequently Asked Questions about what happens if you are arrested for an indictable criminal offense


What Happens If I’m Arrested?

I.
II.
III.
IV.
V.
VI.

The Arrest
Getting Out of Jail
Probable Cause Hearings
The Arraignment
The Trial
Acquittal or Sentencing

I. The Arrest

Most people are arrested by a police officer at “the scene of the crime.” The arresting officer must have what the law defines as probable cause that a crime was committed to arrest anyone. In some cases an arrest warrant is obtained from a judge and then the person is arrested on the warrant. In some cases, the arresting officer will take the person into custody and hold them in jail until an arrest warrant is obtained. “Probable cause” is not a very high standard for the arresting officer to meet. Quite often, judges will sign an arrest warrant based solely on the word of the arresting officer that a person violated the law.

II. Getting Out of Jail

Once a person is in jail and has been booked in (usually very slowly by the deputies and jailers — that is because they believe that the longer that you stay in jail, the more they can deter a person from ever committing a crime again and because they don’t generally care about getting you out anyway, after all, they are not the ones that are in the cell — you are), they usually have the right to try and get out of jail. The following are the only ways that a person can get out of jail:

(a) Hire a Bonding Company: Bonding companies are paid 10% of the face amount of the bond as their fee to get you out. They have to give the jailer a written assurance that if you don’t show up in court, they will pay the whole bond amount. Some bonding companies will not post the bond for a person if they think that person may not ever show up in court (usually when a person is not living locally or has nothing to lose by not showing up in court). Some bonding companies will require that the person in jail give them what is called “collateral” for the bond and that is extra money (over the 10% fee) that they will keep to help insure that the person actually shows up in court. This “collateral” is fully refundable after the conclusion of the case.

(b) Post a Cash (or Credit Card) Bond: Some people are able to just give the jailer the full amount of the bond money in cash or by credit card. Some people have a (true) friend come to the jail and pay the full amount of the bond to the jailer. All of this money is refundable after the case is concluded, except that a “surcharge” is tacked into the bond amount, which the jailer gets to keep.

(c) Post a Property Bond: Some people are lucky enough to have a (true) friend or loved one post the deed to their house as a bond. This is hard to do because the person must have plenty of equity in their house to use the deed as a bond and there are special rules that apply to this procedure, which are hard to comply with.

(d) “Own Recognizance Bond”: Once a person has been in jail long enough, they are brought before a judge and if they pose no risk of flight and meet other requirements, then the judge may be nice enough to just let them out without posting any money.

 

III. Probable Cause Hearings

If a person has not bonded out of jail soon enough, then they are brought before a judge for a hearing to establish whether or not the arresting officer had enough “probable cause” to arrest the person. If the person was arrested with a warrant, the hearing must be held within 72 hours of the date that they were arrested, if they were arrested without a warrant, then a hearing must be held within 48 hours after the date they were arrested. If a person has bonded out of jail, then they have waived the right to have a probable cause hearing. Again, a probable cause hearing is only held to show that the officer had probable cause to believe that a crime was committed. This usually involves nothing more than the officer sitting (or standing) in front of the judge and telling the judge why he arrested you. Most, if not almost all, cases are sent on to a higher court (this is called “binding a case over”). If a person is lucky (or probable cause for an arrest is lacking) the judge will dismiss the arrest warrant (or case) and not bind the case over to a different court. If the case is not bound over then the matter is usually ended, however, some prosecutors are so stubborn that they pursue cases that were dismissed at the probable cause hearing — and the law allows them to do it. Sometimes the prosecutors will set a case down for a probable cause hearing for one reason or another.

 

IV. The Arraignment

After the prosecutor drafts an accusation (in all misdemeanor cases and in some felony cases) or after the Grand Jury hands down an indictment (in most felony cases), then the case gets set down for an arraignment and placed on a calendar before a judge. Some (mostly traffic) cases are prosecuted on the citation issued by the arresting officer and the arraignment date is placed on the citation.
The arraignment is the formal proceeding that is usually the first appearance required of the accused. The purpose of this hearing is for the accused to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges. Quite often, I enter a plea of not guilty for the client and file documents prior to the arraignment so that you do not have to go to court. All felonies are handled in the Superior Court of the county in which the crime occurred, and most misdemeanors are handled in lower courts, such as traffic courts, recorder’s courts, state courts and even probate courts.

 

V. The Trial

You can have a bench trial, which is with only the judge presiding, or a trial before a jury. Misdemeanor cases are tried before 6 jurors and felony cases are tried before 12 jurors. There are numerous hours involved in the preparation for, and the actual trial, of a case.
One of the most important aspects of the trial of a criminal case is the filing and arguing of pre-trial motions. Numerous motions can be filed in a particular case. Most of these are discovery motions that require the prosecutor to give me information about your case. Other important motions can be filed to ask the court to keep the jury from hearing evidence in your case.
Once all motions have been argued and other pre-trial matters resolved, the trial begins. It can be a long process that entails long waiting periods just to get reached on the court’s calendar. Your case is not the only one that is going to trial. Be patient and be sure that we have your current phone numbers and address so that we can notify you of when you are to appear in court for your trial.

 

VI. Acquittal or Sentencing

If your case goes to trial and we win a verdict of acquittal, then the accused is free to go and has been found not guilty by the judge or the jury. The bond money posted is refunded and the record is made to reflect the fact that the accused was found not guilty. No conviction is on the record of the accused.
Should the accused be found (or plead) guilty of the charge, then the judge will impose a sentence, which can be a fine, jail time or even result in the suspension of the defendant’s driver’s license. A conviction is then placed on the record of the convicted person. If the accused lost at trial, then that verdict can be appealed to a higher court.

 The foregoing is a simplified explanation provided for educational purposes only. Each person’s situation is different and can be much more complex. Both bankrupt and creditors need legal representation to protect their legal rights.

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