Over the years, The Blanch Law Firm’s statewide practice has taken us to county superior courts and federal courts from Newark to Trenton. Our attorneys understand the unique aspects of New Jersey criminal law and how to make them work in our clients’ favor. By utilizing a team-centered approach, we provide comprehensive representation from an initial investigation through plea negotiations or trial. We vigorously handle charges of every seriousness and complexity. One of the hallmarks of our firm is our commitment to communicating with our clients throughout the legal process. The Blanch Law Firm is licensed in NY but is able to defend clients in New Jersey through the Pro Hac Vice admissions process. Below is a summary of what clients can expect in a New Jersey criminal arrest.
A state or local law enforcement officer, or a citizen, files a complaint with the nearest municipal court or county Superior Court Criminal Division. A complaint also can result from an indictment by a grand jury. Often a complaint is filed by police following an arrest that takes place immediately after a crime has been committed or under an arrest warrant based on probable cause that a crime was committed.
Once a complaint is issued, a defendant is arrested or issued a summons stating when to appear in municipal court. Failure to appear results in an arrest warrant being issued. At a first appearance, you are apprised of your rights and bail is determined. In New Jersey, bail must be set within 12 hours of a complaint being issued. You are entitled to an attorney at your first appearance, and we strongly recommend legal representation at this early stage. An attorney can protect your rights and begin immediately to build your defense.
After a complaint is filed, or sometimes prior to its filing, the county prosecutor’s office reviews the case to ensure it has merit and is worth pursuing. A case based on insufficient evidence may be downgraded to a lesser offense or dismissed altogether. Having qualified legal counsel at this stage in a case can make a difference in whether your case proceeds or is thrown out.
A case that proceeds without being downgraded or dismissed is presented by the prosecutor to a grand jury, which assesses whether the evidence presented is sufficient to formally charge a defendant and with what crime.
Following an indictment, a pre-arraignment conference is held – usually within 21 days. Your attorney can request discovery of evidence before this conference to see what information will be used to prosecute you. A formal arraignment then takes place, usually within 50 days of indictment. At the arraignment, you receive formal notification of the charges against you, and you may enter a plea of guilty or not-guilty.
Each law enforcement agency in New Jersey, including federal agencies, has its own procedure for taking defendants into custody, holding and arraigning them. Following an arrest, you could be held at the police station, at a regional booking facility or in the county jail pending your court appearance. All state charges must be filed in the Superior Court Criminal Division of the county where the alleged crime occurred. The courthouse is in the municipality that serves as the county seat. Federal courthouses in New Jersey are located in Newark, Trenton and Camden. Arraignments take place in these courts.
By intervening early in a case, The Blanch Law Firm can file motions with the court that may result in reduction or dismissal of charges, exclusion of forensic or other evidence or even suppression of prior convictions. Through the years we have accumulated the knowledge and experience to pursue motions that put our clients in the best position for plea negotiations and trial.
- New Jersey Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced April 28 that former state correction officer Nikita Cardwell, 51, was convicted of conspiring to smuggle a cell phone to an inmate and Northern State Prison. He was found guilty after a weeklong trial by a Middlesex County jury of second-degree bribery, official misconduct and conspiracy to commit bribery and official misconduct. He faces five to 10 years in state prison.
- On April 28, the Acting Attorney General announced the indictment of Yusuf Ibrahim, 29, of Jersey City for the February murder and decapitation of two Egyptian nationals. The 16-count indictment charges Ibrahim with two counts each of first-degree murder, felony murder, kidnapping, robbery, and desecrating human remains. Ibrahim allegedly murdered Hany Tawadros, 25, and Amgad Konds, 27, shooting each man once in the chest with a .38-caliber handgun inside one victim’s car after abducting them in the car. He allegedly drove the bodies to Buena Vista, where he cut off their heads and hands using a small drywall saw and scissors, and knocked out their teeth with a tire iron before he buried them.
- On May 1, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark announced the guilty plea of a former attendance liaison officer for the Elizabeth, N.J., Board of Education. Scott J. Farley, 45, of Cranford, N.J admitted to obtaining by fraud more than $5,000 by working a second job during hours when he was supposed to be tracking down truant students. Farley was expected to conduct home visits relating to excessive school absences by students during his work time but instead he worked in the shipping and receiving department of a private corporation based in Mountainside, N.J.