New criminal court procedure if you are arrested after May 20, 2016:
There are substantial changes to the New Jersey criminal court procedure for all indictable offense is an all complaint/summons cases.
Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
This blog we will discuss the changes and procedure for indictable offense is that becomes a effective May 20, 2016 and September 1, 2016.
If you are arrested on an indictable offense, meaning any offense that is a 4th, 3rd, 2nd or 1st degree crime, you are required to have your first appearance before a judge in the Superior Court no more than 60 days from the date of the arrest.
Another words, unless you are a person who will qualify for the public defender, you better have an attorney ASAP to go to the first appearance.
At that first appearance you will be told of the charges, ability to get into PTI, or drug court, and the court will schedule a pre-indictment disposition conference no later than 45 days from that arraignment date.
At the pre-indictment disposition conference this state is not obligated to show you the discovery. However, they will attempt to make an offer to resolve this case. In all likelihood this will not be a good offer because of the mandatory discovery issues.
At the pre-indictment disposition conference the court is required to have the attorney discuss with the prosecutor any and all pre-indictment dispositions, discovery, or other issues. This shall take place a sensually 105 days, or three months, after an arrest. This event is required to take place in open court on the record in front of the judge with the defendant present.
Now it does not appear there is a required date, or number of days, for any and all cases to be indicted from the date the complaint-summons and/or complaint-warrant is issued. However, The arraignment shall take place 14 days after the indictment is filed. At the arraignment date all discovery shall be provided by the state and cancel either assigned or private counsel and ours it’s appearance again at this time.
You have to have an attorney enter his or her appearance in order to obtain the discovery which has been filed electronically with the prosecutors office and or the Criminal Division of each county. At this time the defendant will be told of the substance of the charges, the defendant can apply for PTI, or drug court.
The important issues you as a defendant who is charged and indicted must understand, at the arraignment, is the fact that the state has to indicate that any and all discovery will be provided and the remaining discovery additional issues will be addressed prior to the next event called the Initial Case Disposition Conference. The defense attorney is also obligated soon after the Arraignment Date to reach out to the Prosecutors Office to the discuss whether or not any motions should be filed to suppress evidence, statements, or other issues. It is important to come to court with an attorney at this time because the court rules require the defense attorney and prosecutor discuss the case, please offers, anticipate emotions, and any other issues and report them to the judge at the next preceding called the Initial Case Disposition Conference.
There is no timeline as to how soon or how long the ICDC will be scheduled but what is clear is there will be very few remaining court conferences. The new Criminal Rules appear to indicate the Court does not want attorney and defendants to continually come to court for status conference after status conference repeatedly asking for adjournments when nothing has been done. In the past judges had very long Monday morning status lists and the defense was merely showing up requesting in Germans because the state had not provided discovery. Now there will be much greater windows between The initial status conference call the ICDC and the Finale status conference called the Final Case Disposition Conference. During this extended windows the court is going to require all discovery issues to be addressed, motions filed, laboratory reports produced.
The new court rule allows a possible additional discretionary conference prior to scheduling the “pretrial conference where plea-cut off may be imposed. I anticipate this discretionary conference being used for cases where we are waiting for state lab results for drugs, medical records, sex crimes forensic reports concerning child pornography, or victim statements.
In my next blog I will discuss what happens at the pretrial conference. I will also discuss the changes to the bell statute and what is now called pre-trial supervision to keep all person charge with minor crimes or offenses out of the county jail.
Jeffrey S. Hark, Esq.