How long will my Criminal case take in Union County NJ?
Serving clients dealing with Criminal Processes in Linden, Clark, Cranford, Elizabeth, and across Union County NJ
If you have been charged with a crime, you may be concerned about how long the case will take. The answer is not that simple as each case is unique and may require a different approach. The length of time it takes to complete a criminal case varies depending on whether you take a plea, file motions, or go to trial. No matter the length of the case, each case begins with a first appearance.
First Appearance in a Criminal Case
Initially, when charged with an offense, you go in front of a judge for what is known as a first appearance. The purpose of the appearance is to inform you of the charges against you and advise you of your rights and available programs such as PTI or Drug Court. At that time, you will be given a court date for a pre-indictment conference.
The pre-indictment conference usually occurs approximately 6 weeks from the date of the first appearance. This time frame often varies from county to county. At the conference, you and your attorney discuss a possible plea offer that may resolve your case. If you decide to take a plea, you would plead guilty that day or another day scheduled by the court. You would not be sentenced the day of your plea as sentencing generally occurs about 6-8 weeks from the date of your plea, but times can vary. If you decide not to take a plea, your case will be referred to the grand jury for indictment.
Grand Jury and Arraignment
Every person charged with a criminal offense (indictable/felony) has the right to have their matter brought before a grand jury. The grand jury is made up of ordinary citizens called to jury duty to decide whether or not there is enough information to continue with the charges. This is not a trial on your ultimate guilt and in fact, you and your attorney are not permitted to be there. If the grand jury returns an indictment it means that they believed that there is enough to continue with the charge. You will then go before the court within 14 days of the indictment to be arraigned. At that time, the court will notify you of the charges and set another court date for a status conference.
Status Conferences and Motions
After your arraignment, the court will set the first status conference. By that court date, your attorney will have to file motions to be heard at a later date. For example, your attorney may file motions to dismiss the indictment, suppress the evidence, or suppress a statement. In more complex cases, there are many other time-consuming motions that will be filed.
Generally, the court schedules as many as three conferences aside from the motions. After the motions are heard and the matter gets close to trial, a pre-trial conference will be scheduled. At a pretrial conference court date, the judge will advise you of your rights and set the case down for a trial in the future.
If you are not in jail, it could take years to bring your matter to trial. This is because the courts give earlier trial dates to those in jail. The court is not as concerned with a quick trial date for someone who is not in jail as their liberty is not restricted. Additionally, depending on the county you are in, there may not be many criminal judges to hear your case and your trial date is based on when it was filed and who is scheduled to have a trial before you.
Talk to a Criminal Defense Attorney in Linden NJ Today
Essentially, bringing your case to an end can take as little as 6 weeks to years. Some people do not want to wait years and want to resolve their case early while others want their day in court in front of a jury. Our attorneys will walk you through the process and help you decide what is right for you.