Have You Been Arrested in Bergen County, New Jersey?
There are two general ways that criminal defendants are called into court in Bergen County, NJ. You can either be arrested on a warrant or issued a summons after an arrest. These two distinct ways to be arrested in a criminal case occur for different reasons and have significant effects on the legal process that follows. If you’ve been arrested in Bergen County, knowing the difference between a warrant and a summons can be helpful for your criminal case. It is the first step toward understanding the gravity of the situation you’re in, what potential penalties you’re facing, and what happens next. Continue reading for more information about types of arrests and charges in Bergen County. If you or a loved one was recently arrested, it is highly advisable to consult a criminal defense attorney for answers about your unique case. Call our local office in Hackensack anytime at 201-330-4979 for a free consultation with an experienced Bergen County criminal defense lawyer and get the help you need now.
I was Arrested on a Warrant in Bergen County, What does this Mean?
When an arrest warrant is issued in New Jersey, the police are authorized to locate and detain someone so that they appear in front of a judge. Generally, the defendant will be forced to appear at a detention hearing as part of this process. During a detention hearing, the judge will determine if you should be released on your own recognizance (ROR), released with certain conditions while you wait for your trial, or whether you should be kept in jail until your case is decided. You can and should have a defense lawyer representing you at your bail hearing if you want to stay out of jail.
Warrants are issued for several reasons. For example, if you violate your parole or probation, a warrant will likely be issued. A “bench warrant” can be issued if you fail to appear in court for a charge, do not pay a fine, or otherwise decline to comply with a court order. You can also be subject to a warrant when a criminal complaint is filed. If the court determines that there is probable cause that a crime occurred and that you were the one that committed the crime, then, a “complaint with arrest” may be issued.
The default rule is that the court must use a summons when making an arrest if possible. Warrants are only issued if certain conditions are met. Specifically, in addition to probable cause, a warrant would be appropriate if you were previously issued a summons and failed to appear, you have more than one warrant out, it is believed that you are a danger to yourselves or others, or the officer is unsure of your identity or address and a warrant is necessary for the court to have jurisdiction over the offense. Warrants may also be issued when an officer believes that a defendant will attempt to obstruct justice or there is another reason to think that you will not appear based on a summons.
Although these are all circumstances where a warrant may be appropriate, it may not technically be required. However, New Jersey law requires that an arrest warrant be issued when the charges are murder, aggravated manslaughter, manslaughter, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, robbery, carjacking, or an escape related to these crimes. There are several other crimes where an arrest warrant is presumed as well, including kidnapping, certain weapons charges, and aggravated arson. Since New Jersey enacted bail reform, a person is also required to be arrested on a warrant when accused of committing a crime of domestic violence. This includes offenses like simple assault, where a warrant is not typically required.
I was Issued a Summons in Hackensack, Now What?
A summons is similar to a warrant in that it requires that you appear in court. However, there is no instruction to the police or sheriff that they should locate and detain you. Instead, the court requests that you appear on your own to deal with a criminal issue. Typically, a person will be arrested for a more minor criminal offense (disorderly persons offense) or DWI, taken to the police station for processing, and then given a summons with a date to appear in court for their first appearance. Some of the most common criminal charges that result in a summons in Bergen County include:
- Possession of marijuana less than 50 grams
- Drug paraphernalia possession
- Disorderly Conduct
- Simple Assault (except in the case of domestic violence)
- Underage Drinking
- Driving under the influence (DWI / DUI)
Keep in mind that being given a criminal complaint summons is not to be taken lightly. Being convicted of many of these offenses can lead to jail time of up to 6 months, up to $1,000 in fines, driver’s license suspension, community service, probation, and a criminal record. You should absolutely confront the charges with an well-formulated defense strategy if you’re seeking the best possible outcome.
Police Arrested me in Bergen County, What Should I do?
If you have received a summons or you found out there is a warrant out for your arrest in Bergen County, you need to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Give our Bergen County criminal defense team a call today at 201-330-4979 for more information. A lawyer is available immediately to walk through your options and discuss possible defenses that may be available to you. We provide consultations at no charge, so take advantage of this opportunity.