Litigation is one of the largest sections of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, comprising of Administration, Grand Jury, Trial, Appellate, and Juvenile.
Administration is responsible for matters pertaining to human resources, personnel, site maintenance, fleet management, clerical and support services, accounts payable and any other matters assigned by the Prosecutor. More specific duties include, but are not limited to, the tracking of Grants; handling of record requests made pursuant to the Open Public Records Act; record keeping and evidence storage; oversight and coordination of Internship Program; and agency accreditations.
Under the New Jersey State Constitution, no person shall be held to answer for a criminal offense, until indictment by a Grand Jury. This right ensures that individuals can be brought to trial only if a reasonable basis for each charge exists. It also ensures that those brought to trial will be adequately informed of the charge or charges against them. The County of Ocean presently has two Grand Juries serving at all times. Each Grand Jury meets once a week on separate days. The function of the Grand Jury is to review, prepare and present criminal cases to both Grand Juries.
Assistant Prosecutors have the responsibility of reviewing all criminal cases and determining whether the file is complete and whether to charges should be presented to the Grand Jury for its determination as to whether an indictment should be returned. In reviewing the cases, the Assistant Prosecutors conduct a complete legal analysis of the facts and the relevant law. The duty of the Assistant Prosecutors before a Grand Jury is to present evidence and to explain the law in order to assist the Grand Jurors in accomplishing its purpose. While performing these duties, the Assistant Prosecutors are always guided by principles of justice.
Detectives are assigned the task of obtaining the evidence necessary for presentation to the Grand Jury. They are required to prepare the complete file in neat and orderly manner. In certain cases, Assistant Prosecutors will require additional information and Detectives will perform their own investigation to obtain additional evidence.
Trial is the largest legal section of the Prosecutor’s Office. It is staffed by teams of Assistant Prosecutors who are responsible for the prosecution of cases from the point at which an Indictment has been returned by an Ocean County Grand Jury until the matter is resolved, either by way of plea or trial. These teams are responsible for all court events including arraignments, status conferences, plea negotiations, motion practice, trials, and sentencings. Assistant Prosecutors are required to pursue justice and held to both a Prosecutor Ethical Standard and the Rules of Professional Conduct governing lawyers.
Our appellate section practices before the state and federal appellate courts. The issues on appeal can be quite technical and span the broad spectrum of criminal law, including constitutional issues, evidential issues, jury instructions, and federal habeas corpus claims.
Our appellate lawyers not only draft and prepare briefs on behalf of the State of New Jersey, but appear at Federal and State appellate courts, make oral arguments and are subjected to questioning by a panels of appellate judges. Our appellate lawyers also appear in the trial courts on motions and hearings on select issues.
Because appellate courts often decide questions of law binding upon the entire legal community and citizenry within a jurisdiction, our practitioners are required to remain current on trends and important topics of the law. To this end, they maintain an efficient and current research database and may advise other sections of the Office when appropriate.
Juvenile is responsible for the prosecution of juvenile offenders. It is involved in all stages of the criminal process from complaint through disposition, handling matters ranging from relatively low level offenses such as shoplifting, to far more serious cases like robbery and homicide. Under New Jersey law, a juvenile is not convicted of a crime but rather is adjudicated delinquent for an offense that if committed by an adult would be a crime. These acts of delinquency are handled in the Family Court. There are three integral elements to each juvenile matter: public safety, accountability, and rehabilitation.
Each case is unique and different and there are a variety of different approaches that can be taken from station house adjustment, diversion to incarceration. Juvenile works closely with the local police departments, the court system, the Division of Child Permanency and Placement (DCPP) and other agencies in order to ensure that each case is handled in the most effective and judicious manner.