First NJ Court Appearance

First NJ Court Appearance

First NJ Court Appearance - The Basics

The court process can be frightening, but your first NJ court appearance does not have to be. This is simply a way to “check in.” In fact, you should think of your first NJ court appearance as you would a first day of school: It’s primarily administrative.

Like the first day of school?

Remember your school days? On the first day, you walked in and were given a schedule. You went to each class, met your teachers, and received your textbooks. You saw people you knew and met new people. The same will be true for your first NJ court appearance. At this time, the judge will call the roll, so to speak, and then check your name off his list.

Protecting your rights

You have certain rights, and the judge will make sure you understand those rights. For example, you have a right to an attorney. The judge will ask if you have an attorney. If you don’t have one at your first NJ court appearance, the judge will ask if you intend to get one. If you cannot afford an attorney, you can apply for a public defender or a court-appointed attorney. This application is simple. You fill it out, and the judge reviews it; he will either approve or deny your request based on your income.

Making sure you have representation is the primary order of business during your first NJ court appearance. After that, the judge will ensure that you understand the charges you’re facing. You have a constitutional right to know what you are accused of, and the judge will read to you the charges and the consequences of those charges. For example, if the charge is a misdemeanor, the judge may tell you that you face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Or, if the charge is a felony, the judge may say that you face five years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

Now you know that you need an attorney, what you have been accused of and what consequences you face. The next step during this first NJ court appearance will be your plea. The judge will ask how you plead. It’s important to note that 100 percent of the time, during your first NJ court appearance, you will enter a plea of “Not Guilty.” Usually this is done through your defense attorney, but if you do not yet have a lawyer, tell the judge, “I’m entering a not guilty plea, and I want to get an attorney.” The judge will enter your plea and then give you a set time – maybe two weeks or 30 days – to get an attorney.

Where is it?

The location of your first NJ court appearance will depend on the type of charges you are facing. If you’re facing an indictable offense, then your matter will be heard in county court. On the other hand, if your matter involves a disorderly persons offense (misdemeanor), then your matter will be heard in Municipal court.

If you are facing a disorderly persons offenses, DWI, traffic ticket, or municipal ordinance, then your first NJ court appearance will take place in municipal court. If you were arrested in Hackensack, then your case will be in Hackensack municipal court. If you were arrested in Newark, then your case will be in Newark municipal court. Get the idea?

The municipal prosecutor is responsible for prosecuting you. As your criminal lawyers, we plea bargain with the prosecutor to get you the best result possible. Sometimes, we can get the charges dismissed. Other times, we can work out a plea deal to downgrade your charge so that you avoid jail & pay a low fine. We also consider different diversionary programs that you may be eligible for and work with the prosecutor to get you admitted.

For example, if you’re facing marijuana possession charges and have a clean record, you may be eligible for a conditional discharge. When you successfully complete the program, your charges will be dismissed. It’s like it never happened.

In addition to showing the judge that you are serious about your case, it is equally important for you to appear at your first NJ court appearance so we can show the prosecutor that you are serious. Making a good impression on the prosecutor helps us when we’re negotiating on your behalf. 

For example, what will a prosecutor think if your lawyer is in court arguing your case but you didn’t care enough to show up? If your name is called and you are not present during your first NJ court appearance, it makes our job of defending you that much harder. 

Your first NJ court appearance is that simple!

And that’s it. You’re not going to trial during your first NJ court appearance. You won’t be convicted on your first day at court. Rarely will the police officers be involved on this day. Prosecutors will be there, and defense attorneys, too. There will also be other people just like you. You will not be asked about your case or questioned in any way.

Be prepared to wait

The court environment is very quiet, organized, and structured. During your first NJ court appearance, you may be sitting in pews, similar to those in places of worship – a church or a synagogue. Remember, you may be sitting there for a while, because courts do take time, and a first NJ court appearance is no exception. It could take an hour, or two, or three, until your case is called. 

 

If you have an attorney, your case will be among the first to be called. If you don’t have an attorney, that’s fine; just be prepared to wait a little longer. Basically, that’s the whole process: You go before a judge, you answer questions concerning your rights, and you enter your plea. After that, your first NJ court appearance is done.

The most important thing

The most important thing to remember is that you need to show up for your first NJ court appearance. By showing up, you show respect for the legal process, and you show the court that you take your legal case seriously.

Will I be notified about my court date?

When the police arrest you, they generate a complaint which has all the details about the criminal charges you’re facing. The complaint will contain:

  • the jurisdiction (the location where the alleged crime occurred);
  • the name of the victim(s);
  • the date of the arrest;
  • the section of the criminal code;
  • and the date of your first NJ court appearance.

However, don’t rely on the date contained in your complaint about that first NJ court appearance. At our firm, we always contact the court to confirm those details, because dates are subject to change.

 

During your first NJ court appearance, the judge will confirm your address to make certain that you will receive notices for all future court dates. As your attorneys, we receive duplicate notices and confirm our attendance with the court.

Do I need an attorney for my first NJ court appearance?

We strongly recommend that you retain counsel before the first appearance. From experience, we know that the sooner we are involved in your case, the more time we have to develop an effective defense strategy.

Also, the process is incredibly stressful. Having counsel at your side goes a long way towards decreasing your anxiety about the process.

Do I need an attorney for my first NJ court appearance?

We strongly recommend that you retain counsel before the first appearance. From experience, we know that the sooner we are involved in your case, the more time we have to develop an effective defense strategy.

Also, the process is incredibly stressful. Having counsel at your side goes a long way towards decreasing your anxiety about the process.

How do I prepare for my court date?

Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare for your first NJ court appearance. Here are a few important things you will need to do:

  • Find the court address. You want to be on time, and the court may or may not have a parking lot. You may have to park on the street, and you may even have to walk a few blocks.
  • Dress appropriately. (We’ll discuss that in more detail below.)
  • Be prepared to go through security.
  • Make sure you have all your paperwork with you.
  • Take a form of identification.
  • You don’t have to have an interpreter. The court will provide one in any language.

 

It’s best to arrive early for your first NJ court appearance. Always expect a line of people waiting to go through court security. Make sure you do not bring any weapons or illegal drugs to court. If you do, the police will arrest you, and you’ll face new charges.

How should i dress?

You should dress appropriately for your first NJ court appearance. You do not have to wear a suit and tie or fancy dress, but remember what they say about first impressions.

Where will my first NJ court appearance be?

The type of charges you are facing will determine where you will go for your first NJ court appearance. If you are facing an indictable offense, your matter will be heard in county court, but if it involves a disorderly persons offense (a misdemeanor), your matter will be heard in municipal court.

How does the municipal court process work?

Matters heard at the municipal level include, disorderly persons offenses, DWIs, traffic tickets, or municipal ordinances, and the court will be determined based on where you are arrested. So if you’re arrested in Hackensack, your case will be in Hackensack municipal court, and if you’re arrested in Newark, your case will be in Newark municipal court. The municipal prosecutor will be responsible for prosecuting you.

As your criminal lawyers, we plea bargain with the prosecutor to get you the best result possible. Sometimes we get your charges dismissed. Other times, we can work out a plea deal to downgrade your charge so that you avoid jail and pay a low fine.

We also consider different diversionary programs you may be eligible for and work with the prosecutor to get you admitted. For example, if you’re facing marijuana possession charges and have a clean record, you may be eligible for a conditional discharge. When you successfully complete the program, your charges will be dismissed, like they never happened.

In addition to showing the judge that you are serious about your case, it is equally important in municipal court for you to be present at your first NJ court appearance so we can show the prosecutor that you are serious. Making a good impression on the prosecutor helps us when we’re negotiating on your behalf.

Can I take friends or family?

Yes, friends and family may accompany you to your first NJ court appearance, but they will sit in the gallery. They should also be prepared to wait until your case is called. They cannot read, eat, or drink anything while in the courtroom, and once the judge is seated, they must be silent.

Will I be questioned at this time?

If you have an attorney, that attorney will speak on your behalf. If you don’t have an attorney, the court will ask if you intend to hire one, but the judge won’t ask you about your case or any legal defenses you have. The first appearance isn’t the time for you to tell your side of the story. The resolution of your case is a long process. If you aren’t represented by a lawyer, it’s better to plead not guilty and request time to hire an attorney.

Can I miss my first NJ court appearance?

If you miss your first court date, the judge may issue a bench warrant for your arrest. You will also receive a failure to appear (FTA) notation, and the court can assess an additional fine. Missing your first NJ court appearance is never a good idea.

What if you cannot make your court date?

There are exceptional circumstances that are out of everyone’s control – such as a car accident, an illness, or hospitalization. In those cases, it is understandable that you would miss your court date. However, prepare to provide evidence for your extenuating circumstance. The court will ask you for it.

If you absolutely cannot make your first NJ court appearance, and you know this in advance, an adjournment request can be made. If you have retained an attorney to represent you, you can ask your attorney to file the adjournment request. The court will consider the request, and most judges will grant it. These adjournment requests should never be abused, however. Courts keep track of how many adjournment requests a defendant makes and will deny those requests if made excessively.

What if the judge issues a bench warrant?

If you missed your first NJ court appearance, and the judge issued a bench warrant, contact us so that we can help you get it removed. One of our Jersey City clients faced simple assault charges in Hudson County and missed the first three court dates. The judge issued a bench warrant for our client and set a high bail. This meant that if our client got arrested, he would have to post bail to get released. After the client retained us, we filed a motion to lift the bench warrant and brought our client to court. We successfully admitted our client into the conditional dismissal program, and he avoided jail and getting a criminal record.

What about recordings?

Everything in court is recorded even when you are at your first NJ court appearance. There are tiny microphones everywhere, and everything that is said will be recorded. Court sessions are recorded in the event you wish to appeal the court’s decision.

Recordings exist to protect everyone involved in a court proceeding. It is the best way to avoid misunderstandings and confusion about how your case unfolds. So be careful about what you say while you are sitting in court. There is a good chance that a microphone is picking up every word.

in conclusion

Navigating the criminal justice system can be overwhelming, but your first NJ court appearance does not have to be frightening. Knowing what to expect and how the process works should put your mind at ease. Don’t forget, we understand your fears and concerns, and we are here to help you.

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How We Can Help

Regardless of the criminal charges you are facing, we are here to defend & protect you. Whether you are facing a restraining order, drug charge, theft charge, or aggravated assault charge, we are here to help you. Even a DWI case can really complicate your life.

If we can’t get your charges dismissed, we can either get them downgraded or place you in a diversionary program. The point is, our criminal defense lawyers will fight tirelessly to get you the best result possible. Take advantage of our free consultation to see how we can help.

Our Experience

You or a loved one have been arrested. Understandably, you are terrified & have a lot of questions. You’ve heard about plea bargains & probation, but the process is overwhelming. You want a local attorney near you to represent you.

Mr. Peyrouton is from Ridgewood & handles all types of criminal matters in New Jersey The New Jersey Law Journal recently published one of his articles on the subject of criminal law.

Our Practice Areas

Below you will find some but not all of our practice areas. Of course, if you do not see your criminal charges listed, feel free to contact us for a free consultation. We will meet with you to discuss your case & to answer all of your legal concerns. Se habla español tambien!

Areas We Serve

Get Help With Your Case

How Do Your Free Consultations Work?

There are plenty of excellent Hackensack criminal lawyers in our area. Most, if not all of them, offer free, 20-minute, consultations. However, our free consultations do not have a time limit. You will never feel rushed.

The best way for us to help you is to patiently listen to your side of the story. Your version of events will serve as the basis for your legal defense. It is during these initial meetings that your memory of the event is fresh in your mind. Why we would rush you during such an important aspect of your case.

We understand that your choice of attorney could mean the difference between your freedom and spending years behind bars. 

When you hire an attorney, you are entering a long-term relationship. For this reason, it is important that you feel comfortable with the team of Hackensack criminal lawyers that will represent you.

What our clients say about us

Peyrouton Law
5.0
Based on 128 reviews
Thomas W
Thomas W
03:21 20 Dec 20
My brother-in-law's friend was arrested for a disorderly person's offense. It sounds minor, but in some states other than NJ it is known as a misdemeanor. Often this type of offense is resolved as a municipal ordinance violation, a civil matter. The defendant still must pay a substantial fine, but the criminal charge is dismissed and the defendant has no criminal record. And the municipality gets their money. But in this case Alan Peyrouton had the case dismissed. My brother-in-law's friend had no criminal record, and paid no fine ! There is no better resolution of a case for a criminal defendant than to have a case dismissed. I would recommend Alan to anyone facing any criminal charge in NJ. And so would my brother-in-law and his friend.
Adam Massa
Adam Massa
20:04 07 Dec 20
I rarely submit reviews but this law firm deserves 5 stars!Samera & Alan were phenomenal! They are the perfect team to help when you're desperate because they listen and care and explain things patiently and clearly.I called 4 lawyers before I found Peyrouton Law and all 4 lawyers were rude and in a rush.From day one I got VIP treatment and they charged me less than all the other lawyers wanted to charge me. Alan got my case dismissed and is the most humble lawyer I ever met.Samera is an angel and I am very grateful for all of their assistance.I strongly recommend this law firm.
Osi Nwankwo
Osi Nwankwo
20:38 04 Dec 20
Very trust worthy firm. The perfect place for legal advice!
Dylan Wazz
Dylan Wazz
00:50 01 Dec 20
If you’re looking for a lawyer and are reading this review, then you can stop your search right here because Alan is without a doubt the best lawyer on the market. His secretary Samera was such a genuine person and you can tell they both actually care about their clients and take each and every case like it was one of their family members cases. If I could give them 10 stars I would. Absolutely a great law firm and I will be recommending them to anyone who digs themself into a sticky situation as I did. We’re all human and they most certainly bring that to life in court and make the prosecutor and judge see that. Thank you for all you guys did I greatly appreciate it!
T Shum
T Shum
00:20 24 Nov 20
Judy Lawrence
Judy Lawrence
00:59 20 Nov 20
My name is Ms. Judy Lawrence, and I am so excited about posting my opinion of Peyroutin Law; a law firm that is owned and operated by the two most persevering people in my opinion; Mr. Alan and Ms. Cerva. With all the intricate things they have to do to get ready for court, they always received me with smiles in their voice.I was faced with my first criminal case, and my sons told me they had, in their opinion, the perfect law firm. I was sceptical, because everything was done over the phone and email, do to the Pandemic, and I needed that personal touch.I must tell you, I never felt so confident about being in such a bad situation. Ms. Cerva took the time to read my emails and respond promptly; she always kept me informed every step of the way. Its hard for me to trust anyone with such a delicate situation, that I wasn't able to meet in person. Ms.Cerva (Paralegal) took the time to speak to me on the phone when I became anxious. I felt a closeness to her.To make a long story short, because I am a writer, and I can speak volumes about how when I spoke to the Lawyer, Mr. Alan, a feeling of calm and blessed assurance came over me. He told me what to expect, he asked me what I wanted, he treated me as if he knew the very essence of who I was, and he handle himself with such professional and knowledge.Its funny because, when everything was over and done, and I received a very favorable outcome, I kind of missed them. I don't ever want to have to face such a uncomfortable situation like that again. But if I do, God forbid, I have Mr. Alan and Ms. Cerva backing me up.Thank you
Jakeline Jaramillo
Jakeline Jaramillo
17:17 03 Nov 20
Mi experiencia fue muy buena. Debo resaltar un trato muy personalizado y sobre todo la calidad profesional y humana. Se ha planteado el caso y su defensa de la manera más oportuna y efectiva. Agradezco mucho su ayuda para resolverlo de manera exitosa
San Loore kailey Saint jean
San Loore kailey Saint jean
17:24 29 Oct 20
orphise saintjean
orphise saintjean
15:03 29 Oct 20
DAVID ALEJANDRO ROSERO JARAMILLO
DAVID ALEJANDRO ROSERO JARAMILLO
14:02 29 Oct 20
Obtuvo el mejor resultado para mi caso, muy recomendado!

A person extorts if he purposely threatens to:

a. Inflict bodily injury on or physically confine or restrain anyone or commit any other criminal offense;
b. Accuse anyone of an offense or cause charges of an offense to be instituted against any person;
c. Expose or publicize any secret or any asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or to impair his credit or business repute;
d. Take or withhold action as an official, or cause an official to take or withhold action;
e. Bring about or continue a strike, boycott or other collective action, if the property is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor purports to act;
f. Testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another’s legal claim or defense; or
g. Inflict any other harm which would not substantially benefit the actor but which is calculated to materially harm another person.

***It is an affirmative defense to prosecution based on paragraphs b, c, d or f that the property obtained was honestly claimed as restitution or indemnification for harm done in the circumstances or as lawful compensation for property or services.

Reasonable Articulable Suspicion

Reasonable suspicion is a “search” standard that applies in criminal law.

When a police officer conducts a warrantless search, and does not have probable cause to justify the search, the courts look to see if the police had
a “reasonable & articulable suspicion” for the search.

A mere “hunch” is not enough.

In other words, a police officer has to provide an acceptable explanation for the search.

United States Constitution

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

NJSA - 2C:43-7.2.
Eligibility for parole;
persons convicted of certain violent crimes

a. A court imposing a sentence of incarceration for a crime of the first or second degree enumerated in subsection d. of this section shall fix a minimum term of 85% of the sentence imposed, during which the defendant shall not be eligible for parole.


b. The minimum term required by subsection a. of this section shall be fixed as a part of every sentence of incarceration imposed upon every conviction of a crime enumerated in subsection d. of this section, whether the sentence of incarceration is determined pursuant to N.J.S.2C:43-6, N.J.S.2C:43-7, N.J.S.2C:11-3 or any other provision of law, and shall be calculated based upon the sentence of incarceration actually imposed. The provisions of subsection a. of this section shall not be construed or applied to reduce the time that must be served before eligibility for parole by an inmate sentenced to a mandatory minimum period of incarceration. Solely for the purpose of calculating the minimum term of parole ineligibility pursuant to subsection a. of this section, a sentence of life imprisonment shall be deemed to be 75 years.


c. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary and in addition to any other sentence imposed, a court imposing a minimum period of parole ineligibility of 85 percent of the sentence pursuant to this section shall also impose a five-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the first degree, or a three-year term of parole supervision if the defendant is being sentenced for a crime of the second degree. The term of parole supervision shall commence upon the completion of the sentence of incarceration imposed by the court pursuant to subsection a. of this section unless the defendant is serving a sentence of incarceration for another crime at the time he completes the sentence of incarceration imposed pursuant to subsection a., in which case the term of parole supervision shall commence immediately upon the defendant’s release from incarceration. During the term of parole supervision the defendant shall remain in release status in the community in the legal custody of the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections and shall be supervised by the State Parole Board as if on parole and shall be subject to the provisions and conditions

Felony Degree

Prison & Fines

Examples

First-Degree

1st-degree felony charges in NJ are reserved for the most serious criminal offenses. Prison terms start at a minimum of 10 years in prison.

Second-Degree

2nd-degree felony charges carry 5-10 yrs in prison.
These charges can often be “downgraded” to 3rd or 4th-degree crimes.

Third-Degree

3rd-degree felony charges carry 3-5 years.
You have a good shot at PTI if you are charged with a 3rd-degree.

Fourth-Degree

4th-degree felony charges carry up to 18 months in jail. These cases can get “remanded” to a lower court. In this way, you will be out of “felony” danger.