Have you been charged with a crime and scheduled to appear at a Central Judicial Processing Hearing in Mercer County, New Jersey? If so, it is strongly recommend that you contact and retain the services of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. As you will see below, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can be of a tremendous benefit during a CJP hearing. If you would like to speak to one of the seasoned Mercer County criminal defense lawyers at Keith Oliver Criminal Law about your options, then please contact us at 609-789-0779.
What is Central Judicial Processing (CJP) Court?
Central Judicial Processing, also known as “CJP”, is a Defendant’s initial court appearance. Everyone charged with an indictable offense (felony) that occurs within Mercer County will receive a CJP court hearing. Conversely, anyone charged with a disorderly persons offense (misdemeanor), even if it is for a domestic violence offense, will not receive a CJP date. In other words, you must be facing an indictable crime of the first, second, third, or fourth degree to receive a CJP date. Some of the most common indictable offenses, include but are not limited to the following:
- Aggravated Assault;
- Heroin Possession;
- Marijuana Distribution;
- Eluding Police;
- Terroristic Threats;
- Unlawful Possession of a Weapon
What does a CJP hearing involve?
During a CJP hearing several important things may take place, including but not limited to the following:
- The Defendant will be called upon enter their initial plea (Guilty or Not Guilty);
- The Judge may set bail and/or review the previously imposed bail;
- The Prosecution may file a Detention Motion;
- If this is to occur, the prosecution will be seeking to detain the Defendant in the Mercer County Jail, without bail, pending trial. However, this will not occur at during this hearing and a date in the future must be set.
- Conditions of bail may be set and/or modified (i.e. No Victim Contact);
- The Prosecution will typically provide initial discovery, including the police reports;
- The Prosecution will decide whether to send the case to one of the following:
- A Pre-Indictment Conference;
- Mark it for Grand Jury; or
- Downgrade and Remand the case back to the local Municipal Court.
As you can see, several very important decisions may be made during a Central Judicial Processing Hearing and that is why we strongly urge that anyone scheduled to appear at CJP, speak to an attorney prior to appearing.
Can the Charges be Dismissed at CJP?
Although it is possible, it is unlikely that criminal charges will be outright dismissed at CJP. With that being said, the groundwork for obtaining a dismissal can be laid. Defense counsel will be able to seek to convenience the prosecution that the charges should be downgraded and remanding back to municipal court. If this is to occur, the pending felony charges would be downgraded to misdemeanors and the charges will ultimately be litigated in the local municipal court as opposed to the Mercer County Superior Court. The reasons for downgrading charges are endless but some of the most common factors included but are not limited to the following:
- The Defendant’s Criminal History;
- Was Violence Involved;
- The Seriousness of the Charges;
- The Strength of the Prosecutions case;
- Potential Probable Cause Issues;
- Potential Miranda Issues;
- Potential Search & Seizure Issues;
- Victim(s) Position;
- Co-Defendant Status.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Central Judicial Processing Hearing in Trenton?
Keith Oliver Criminal Law has a tremendous amount of experience representing those accused of felony offenses in courts throughout New Jersey, including in Mercer County. If you are scheduled to appear at a CJP hearing in Mercer County and would like to speak to one of our attorneys about your options, then please contact our Hamilton office at 609-789-0779 or you can try contacting us online. Our office serves all of Mercer County, including towns like Hamilton, Trenton, Ewing, Lawrenceville, Robbinsville, West Windsor, Hightstown, Princeton and East Windsor.