What is the process of arrest in New Jersey, and what are my rights throughout?
Pre-arrest, arrest, and booking processes in NJ, as well as your rights as a citizen during each of those phases.
If you have been detained by a local or state officer in New Jersey, it is essential that you know the full extent of the procedure and your rights within each step. Many people, in their ignorance, implicate themselves by speaking to officers when they are not required to do so. It is essential to know when to keep your mouth shut and request a lawyer, and when resisting disclosing information could land you with an additional criminal charge.
When you are pulled over or detained in Passaic
In a state of stress, many people believe that when an officer asks for their driver’s license or another form of identification, they are required to answer all questions that the officer asks. Many officers will probe for information at this point, even though it is completely within a citizen’s right to answer no questions at this point. One helpful phrase to recite to an officer who is asking meddling questions after requesting (and receiving) your identification is, “Am I under arrest?” If the answer is “No,” you have the right to remain silent, and not answer any questions about your prior or upcoming whereabouts.
If, however, the officers have reason to believe that you have been involved in criminal activity, you can be detained. This will likely come either through their observation of your presence in relation to current happenings in the area or by running your information in the system. Generally, when an officer takes your driver’s license, they will return to their squad car and run your name through the New Jersey and Federal database. This search will determine whether there is a warrant out for your arrest or if you have a criminal background.
Remember, you have every right to ask up front if you are being detained. If the answer is no, you can stay mum, and you’re free to leave upon receiving your identification back.
When you are arrested in North Jersey
Your rights as a citizen, of course, become less ample when you are arrested. You do, however, still have them. The first and foremost right you have is to have your Miranda Rights read to you if you are going to be questioned. Miranda Rights are the offspring of the precedent-setting 1966 case of Miranda v. Arizona (384 US 436) in which it was determined that “prior to any questioning, the person must be warned that s/he has the right to remain silent, that any statement s/he does make may be used as evidence against him/her, and that s/he has the right to an attorney, either retained or appointed.” Because you are innocent until proven guilty, law enforcement will be looking to build sufficient evidence against you to prove that you are guilty. Your words, especially when expressed under the stress of arrest, are potential explosives. Remember that it is best to say nothing and request a lawyer if you are arrested, waiting until under the eye of legal counsel before providing any statements or testimony.
It is essential that, at the time of being arrested, you cooperate as fully as possible, though, as noted above, it is your legal right to remain silent. Any verbal or physical resistance could be considered resistance of arrest, bringing with it additional charges. Often, charges for resisting arrest come because there is faulty communication or lack of understanding between the arresting officer and the detained individual; there could even be a claim by the arresting officer that the accused resisted or argued arrest when that wasn’t the case. In order to avoid such additional charges as resisting arrest, eluding police, or obstructing the administration of law, it is best that you move forward in full cooperation with the officer’s instructions. This does not mean that you have to talk to the police if they are seeking to interrogate you, even after having your Miranda Rights read. In fact, having a criminal defense lawyer on your side at this point in the case is vital to protect your rights and position yourself for success.
When you are booked in Essex
If you are charged with a crime and arrested, you will be taken to the police station for booking. During the booking process, you are fingerprinted. Your fingerprints entered into the state and federal system ensure that from this point on, you’re ‘in the criminal system,’ whether or not anything becomes of the arrest charge. If you aren’t already in the system, you are issued a State Bureau Identification (SBI) number and a comparable National Crime Information Center (NCIC) number. At this point, it is essential that you seek the support of a criminal defense lawyer.
Contact our NJ Criminal Defense attorneys for a free confidential consultation at our Little Falls Office.
If you have been detained for a crime, it’s essential that you have an experienced criminal defense attorney backing you up. At The Montanari Law Group, LLC, we successfully represent clients across Passaic and Essex Counties and the greater North Jersey area.
If you have been arrested for a crime, ranging from drug possession, to theft, to assault, we are on your side. We have the experience and the expertise to handle your arrest and criminal charges, call us at (973) 233-4396 or request your consultation here.