Call Us Today: 1-800-923-3456

Criminal Justice

How the Criminal Justice System Works in New Jersey

Our state’s criminal justice system can be difficult to understand – and even more difficult to navigate – if you’re unfamiliar with the processes involved. At Garces, Grabler & LeBrocq, we believe that giving our clients information about the criminal justice system and its rules can help everyone, because knowledge is power. To help you better understand NJ law, we’re going to examine some of the key steps in the system, and how they affect those accused of committing a crime.

NJ Law and the Steps to Trial

Step One: The Complaint. If a person reports a crime, the police write up an incident report and then the courts issue a complaint. A complaint is the legal court document that is signed by either an officer or a victim. The court will issue a summons complaint, which requires the accused to appear in court, or a warrant complain, which calls for the arrest of the accused.

Step Two: The Arrest. Once the warrant complaint is issued, a police officer can officially arrest the accused. (Television gets this wrong all the time.) According to NJ law, only indictable offenses can lead to an arrest. Indictable offenses include charges such as murder and manslaughter, robbery, arson, certain assault charges and burglary, to name a few.

Step Three: The Appearance. After a person is arrested, that person must appear before the court. At this time, the court determines the amount of bail (all within 12 hours of the complaint being issued) and the accused is informed of his/her rights to retain a criminal defense attorney. If the accused cannot afford a criminal defense attorney, he/she will be represented by a public defender.

Step Four: The Review. The prosecutor now determines whether or not to pursue a case. Sometimes the charges are dropped; sometimes they are reduced. In some cases, the prosecutor decides to move forward, leading us to…

Step Five: The Plea. At this time, the accused and his/her criminal lawyer decide whether to plead “guilty” or “not guilty.” Those who plead guilty will be sentenced, and the next steps are taken based on the crime. Those who plead not guilty are then returned to jail or allowed to go home (depending on whether or not they made bail) while the prosecutor present his case to a grand jury for indictment. An indictment by the grand jury means the accused may have to stand trial.

According to NJ law, even after an indictment the accused and his/her criminal defense attorney may continue to negotiate for lesser charges, or change the plea to “guilty.” The criminal justice system also allows defendants to forgo a jury trial if they wish, and to have their case decided by a judge in the Law Division of Superior Court.

The criminal justice system is complicated, and this is only an overview of how it works. If you’re facing charges, a criminal lawyer from Garces, Grabler & LeBrocq will give you a more complete understanding of the system and the rest of the steps you must take. Please call 1-800-923-3456 or contact us online to learn more about NJ law and what your next steps are.


  • captcha
Thank you Mr. Lawrence LeBrocq, I have no words for the amount of appreciation I have for what you've just done.
, May 9, 2017
Very satisfied withow my case was handled
, Oct 17, 2016
Buen trabajo. Muchas gracias.
, Oct 23, 2016
Thanks for helping and you have the best service
, Jul 26, 2016
The best!!!
, Jul 6, 2017
Hi, it was a very good experience !! I appreciate all the things the Lawyer did for me, he won the case, thank you so much again, I am 100% satisfied!
, Mar 29, 2017
Muy buenos abogados se los recomiendo
, Jun 8, 2017
Yous are the best of the best thank you for your service
, Sep 12, 2015
Excellent service. Very respected law firm. Will use again and definitely recommend
, Oct 12, 2016
I would highly recommend this law firm to anyone. The service was epicable. Very thorough, efficient and friendly. It was a pleasure having you represent me.
, Jul 8, 2017
MaryanN and Jasmine both very helpful and professional. Jonathan Kessous very professional. Would recommend the firm.
, Aug 5, 2016
My lawyer Pat was very efficient on my case and I definitely give GGL 5 stars
, Oct 23, 2016
The best In Plainfield, Thanks Garces+Grabler+Lebrocq for your help! Beating my case and my wife case.
, Jun 15, 2016
I was very pleased with the service from your firm, especially my attorney Allen, he always returned mu calls and was very courteous.
, Jul 18, 2017
I was happy with your service and professionalism with handling my case. I was treated with respect and always told the truth and not half of a story or what I wanted to hear. My team was awesome thank you
, Jul 14, 2017
They were very effective in getting my ticket and fines knocked down to lesser offence. I appreciate all their help.
, Jul 15, 2017
Jonathan A Kessous did an outstanding job in handling my case. He was able to get the most serious charge and several other charges against me dropped and my fine greatly reduced. I was most impressed with his professionalism.competence and the timely manner in which he responded to all my questions and concerns. This demonstrated to me that I was a priority and not just a client!
, Jun 13, 2016
A well-prepared staff who handled everything we asked. Made us feel welcome and handled everything professionally.
, Jun 13, 2016
Excelentes abogados
, May 8, 2016
I was very impressed with the professionalism and quick turn-around time from all the participants from GGL that assisted me. I would like to especially thank my attorney Jonathan Kessous. His credentials are very notable he is one of four attorneys throughout the entire state of NJ certified by the NJ Supreme Court as a Trial Specialist in both Criminal and Municipal Court Law matters. My case was very serious and could have resulted in jail time or suspension of my license. Jonathan was able to resolve my case very favorably. I am extremely thankful for his assistance. I would also like to recognize and thank his Paralegal Jasmin Caba and his Personal Assistant Marianne Crisitello for their assistance in communicating and preparing me for my trial. They are a great team and I would highly recommend them.
, Feb 27, 2017
Very please with law firm
, Apr 2, 2017
Bill Grabler handled several comp case's for me including permanent worker's comp. He did a fantastic job.
, Jul 21, 2016
Son buenos los mejores abogados buen equipo en general
, Jul 7, 2017
Like to thank u for your profession and with my traffic ticket
, Jul 24, 2016
Se los recomiendo muy buen abogado y lucha asta conseguir lo mejor para el cliente
, May 26, 2016
Todo muy bien
, Jul 21, 2016
Great people they do help thank you for everything you've done
, Jul 18, 2017
Great job , thank you very much, I'm glad I found you,
, Oct 22, 2016
Outstanding service very professional attorneys thumbs up all the way
, Feb 4, 2017
G.G.L... Are the best in the business...
, Jan 26, 2017