Law Offices of Michael T. Nolan, Jr.

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Understanding the criminal defense process

The experience of being arrested, especially for a felony, can leave New Jersey residents with many questions. The criminal defense process can feel confusing and understanding the basics of how it works is important for anyone in this situation.

The New Jersey Courts indicates that a felony criminal charge is heard in a Superior Court. A misdemeanor can be heard in a Municipal Court. At a person's first appearance in court, the judge will review bail amounts and terms, the reason for the arrest and the defendant's right to legal representation. According to the American Bar Association, a preliminary hearing is the next step and can result in the payment of bail or incarceration while pre-trial work is conducted.

If a defendant enters a guilty plea at this point, no criminal trial is necessary. Cases that proceed to trial will be resolved either by a finding of guilt or no guilt. Guilty verdicts then result in sentencing. New Jersey identifies four degrees of felony charges, two of which may not necessarily result in time in jail or prison even if a criminal conviction is achieved. Some people are ordered to serve probation only depending upon the circumstances.

People convicted of first- and second-degree felonies, however, should expect to spend some time in jail. That length of time can be up to 20 years for a first-degree crime and up to 10 years for a second degree crime. After a conviction, defendants can also file an appeal, even if they are in prison or jail. 

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Law Offices of Michael T. Nolan, Jr.
514 Brick Boulevard, Suite 6
Brick, NJ 08723

Toll Free: 888-415-7141
Phone: 732-965-3342
Fax: 732-477-0492
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