Dealing with law enforcement is a stressful time in anyone’s life. Having your loved one arrested can cause panic and confusion, especially if you are present when the arrest happens. While your loved one is going through the booking process and possibly being held in jail, they rely on you to help gather information and contact a New Jersey lawyer on their behalf. It’s a frustrating and scary situation to be in, but keeping a calm head and knowing what to expect can help you with the arrest.
Gather Information Before Contacting Your New Jersey Lawyer
The first step after a loved one has been arrested is to gather information about the case. Without any information, contacting a New Jersey lawyer won’t help much, as you won’t be able to tell them anything about the charge. Law enforcement is a job like any other, and police officers and jail staff are just regular people doing their jobs. If you remain calm and polite, you can get all the information you need from them. None of the information you’ll need is classified, and you have a right to know about your loved one’s arrest.
Before contacting an attorney, contact the police or jail where your loved one is being held and ask for the following information:
- The official charge of the arrest
- Whether or not your loved one is free to go after booking
- If the arresting officers had an arrest warrant and, if so, which court issued it
- If the arresting officers were from the state government or the federal government
- Name, badge number, and contact information for the arresting officers
- Address and contact information of the location where your loved one is being held
- Your loved one’s arrest number
Know The Rights
Even while being arrested, you and your loved one are still protected by certain rights. If you are present during the arrest, it’s possible that the officer will perform a pat-down to ensure no weapons are present. You have a right to film or otherwise record the arrest process as long as you are legally allowed to be at the arresting location (i.e., if you were trespassing when the arrest occurred, you do not have the right to record). Keep a record of whatever the officers find and seize so you can ensure that your loved one’s property is returned to them when legally possible.
When an arrest is made, your loved one will be taken to a nearby facility for the booking process. You may not be present during this time, but you can still ensure your loved one’s rights are protected. New Jersey crimes typically fall into one of two categories: indictable offenses and disorderly persons offenses.
Indictable offenses are New Jersey’s version of felonies. A felony charge requires your loved one to have a detention hearing, where a judge will determine if they are allowed to go free before their case trial. Someone charged with an indictable offense can be detained for up to 48 hours before their hearing.
Disorderly persons offenses are New Jersey’s version of misdemeanors. A misdemeanor charge only requires your loved one to remain in detention during the booking process. This is often a quick process, but it can take up to 24 hours if the station is backed up. New Jersey law states a person can only be held in detention for a maximum of 24 hours before they must be released or charged with a criminal offense.
Right to Remain Silent
The right to remain silent applies to both you and your loved one. If you are present during your loved one’s arrest or before they are taken in for booking, remind them they do not have to answer any questions without their attorney present. The same applies to you as well. When discussing the arrest charge and gathering information for your loved one, do not discuss the details of the case. Anything you say to an officer can be used in court, and phone calls with stations and jails are recorded for the same reason. If asked anything about the case, politely refuse to answer.
Contact a New Jersey Lawyer
With all of the information about the case in hand, it’s time to contact a lawyer. If you/your loved one does not already have a lawyer to work with, you’ll need to research and find the right lawyer for their case. All lawyers have a working knowledge of New Jersey law. However, each firm and specific attorney specializes in different types of cases. When hiring an attorney, make sure you pick one that will be able to best represent your loved one. For example, if your loved one is charged with a DUI, a divorce attorney may not be their best line of defense.
When you first call your chosen lawyer, you’ll be able to consult with them about the case. During this consultation, it’s imperative that you have all of the pertinent information about the charge. It’s also important that you tell the truth about what you know about the case. The consultation is set up to determine if your lawyer reasonably believes they can help you and your loved one. If a detention hearing is pending, secure a lawyer beforehand so they can be present for the hearing.
Attorney Leon Matchin is an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. He is here to help you and your loved one during this tumultuous time. Working as a New Jersey lawyer, Attorney Matchin’s goal has always been to make the court process as stress-free as possible for his clients. He works hard to ensure that your loved one’s case is treated fairly and their rights are respected. To consult with Attorney Matchin on your loved one’s case, call him today at 732-887-2479, or email him at [email protected].