Expunging the Records in Your Mental Health History can Put You on the Path to Purchasing and Possessing a Firearm

New Jersey allows those with criminal records to expunge records relating to arrests, criminal proceedings, and convictions. The law’s authorization for expungement extends to those with convictions for all indictable crimes but the most serious, as well as disorderly persons offenses, petty disorderly offenses, and municipal ordinance violations. However, the applicant for expungement must wait until the legal waiting periods are over before applying. The object is to give people second chances to rehabilitate and regain rights to pursue jobs, education, housing, and protection through firearms. 

Similarly, an individual may expunge certain mental health records upon proof of their recovery or remission, also allowing them to move on and regain their Second Amendment rights. After a criminal expungement, an individual can typically regain their ability to own a gun, while after a mental health expungement, an individual most probably can. Expunging a prior voluntary or involuntary commitment and any records contained in your mental health history is no easy task. Needless to say, it requires the skill and insight of an experienced gun rights lawyer who has handled many of these complex mental health expungements in the past. To speak with a seasoned firearms attorney now about your options and learn how we can assist with the process of obtaining a mental health expungement and subsequently applying for a gun permit in New Jersey, call 973-524-7238 today.

New Jersey Expungement of Mental Health Records Law

N.J.S.A. 30:4-80.8 permits anyone who was voluntarily or involuntarily committed to apply for expungement of records regarding commitment, mental health services, or determinations of endangerment to self or others. The rules and procedures for these applications are outlined in statute sections N.J.S.A. 30:4-80.8 through N.J.S.A. 30:4-80.11.  An individual may apply to the superior court for a mental health expungement. Eligible records include those concerning commitments to mental health facilities or services, determinations that an individual is dangerous, incapacitated, or voluntarily committed themselves to a mental health facility. It does not include other documents associated with commitment, like mental health diagnoses, observations, and consultations. 

Criteria for Expunging Mental Health Records

The superior court judge reviewing the application for expungement of mental health records must be persuaded that the applicant has demonstrable improvement or proof of remission since their release from a mental health facility before granting an expungement. The applicant has no waiting period before applying but can apply to the court in the county where the mental health facility of their commitment is located when they can prove they are no longer in need of services. 

Documents and Information Required for Mental Health Expungement

The application must convince a judge of their rehabilitation or recovery by painting a solid picture of their healthy reintegration into society as a reputable person in their community. They must also supply the court with their mental health history from other facilities they were voluntarily or involuntarily committed to and other mental health facilities they sought help from, with or without commitment. Their application should also include other mental health diagnoses, any criminal history as a juvenile or adult, and a detailed explanation of the circumstances of their commitment to a mental health facility. 

Factors Influencing Mental Health Record Expungement Decisions

Once a court believes the applicant is no longer a danger to the public and expungement is not against the public’s interest, it can grant the expungement application. A court is more apt to believe an applicant no longer poses a danger to self or others and that an expungement is within the public interest based on proof of employment, education, mental health maintenance, and changed circumstances since the commitment and expungement application. A favorable risk assessment by a reputable psychologist or psychiatrist is also persuasive to the court.

Strategies for a Successful Mental Health Expungement

Other helpful strategies for a successful application include providing favorable character references of employers, co-workers, family, friends, neighbors, and other community members. Awards and certificates verifying good character as a volunteer or member of charitable organizations or non-profits to benefit disadvantaged populations and other activities that show goodwill and character are likewise convincing that the applicant is not a danger and granting an expungement is in line with public interests. All evidence of a favorable reputation helps make the case for granting the application because a doctor’s note is not enough when one of the goals is to recover gun ownership rights. 

How Legal Knowledge Enhances a Petition to Expunge Mental Health Records in New Jersey

Since gun laws are strict in New Jersey, a mental health records expungement application must be airtight. That means an applicant would be wise to seek the advice of a gun rights attorney familiar with mental health expungements to suggest the best ways to make an application stronger. For example, an attorney is likely to advise that an applicant expunge criminal records before applying for a mental health expungement. Additionally, if they are a named defendant in a restraining order or extreme risk protective order, an attorney may advise getting those removed or terminated first. The same expungement, removal, or resolution approach also applies to out-of-state criminal records and outstanding arrest warrants. Clearing them first strengthens the application.  

Mental Health Background Checks in New Jersey FPIC Applications

Applications for New Jersey firearms purchaser identification cards (FPIC) necessary to buy guns include questions regarding mental health commitments or confinements. Once a court grants expungement of all commitment records, applicants can answer they have none. Once all records of commitment or psychiatric confinement are deleted, an FPIC applicant is not automatically disqualified.  However, the right is not absolute in New Jersey. New Jersey police make the final determination based on New Jersey law, specifically, whether an individual is a danger to the public. An application for an FPIC requires consent to divulge mental health records, which may contain expunged records.

Obtaining a Gun Permit Despite Your Expunged Mental Health History

In determining whether the FPIC issuance would “not be in the interest of the public health, safety or welfare,” under N.J.S.A.2C:58-3c(5), the New Jersey law enforcement authorities considering an application may deny the application after reviewing an applicant’s mental health records. However, a mental health expungement determination means a judge deems the applicant no longer a threat to society. Thus, an expungement and FPIC application must give authorities reason to weigh an application’s strengths with supplementary documents, such as letters of recommendation, volunteer activities, employment, and the like.

It should be clear that an individual’s gun rights hinge on the completeness and persuasiveness of an expungement application. It must be beyond reproach. As such, only a highly experienced gun rights attorney can adequately help you get an expungement of your mental health records when you wish to recover your right to purchase and possess a firearm. With a firearms lawyer’s guidance, you will know which documents to prepare, who to contact, and where to find the evidence to prove your good character and recovery. After a judge grants an expungement, your attorney may also help you use the application supplemental materials to strengthen your application for an FPIC and/or carry permit.

Second Amendment Rights Lawyers to Handle Your Mental Health Expungement in NJ

Your Second Amendment rights are essential. Our team is committed to assisting individuals in criminal and mental health expungement processes in Chatham, Florham Park, Parsippany, Randolph, Morris County, and the greater New Jersey area. Get the experienced legal help you need with a mental health expungement from a tested and proven gun rights attorney in New Jersey by contacting 973-524-7238 or contacting us online to receive a free consultation.

The theft of prescription drugs and doctor pads or ”blanks” has jumped as the opioid epidemic, unfortunately, doesn’t appear to be losing steam. Pharmaceutical drug theft and mishandling pose many risks, including a significant risk to the public and everyone’s general safety. It also creates a rise in crime. To combat this issue, New Jersey has implemented and further strengthened its laws, and pharmacies across the US are beefing up their security measures. Yet still, these thefts continue at pharmacies, doctor’s offices, and other places.

Prescription drug misuse impacts all Jersey communities and residents, from the suburbs to the cities. The crime is rooted in addiction, a disease that does not discriminate based on socioeconomic level, gender, or race.

Statistics show that over 16.3 million people are misusing prescription medication each year. Sedatives, stimulants, and Benzodiazepines are the most commonly abused prescribed drugs in the United States after opioids. Unfortunately, individuals consumed by the torments of a substance use disorder often find themselves resorting to theft, forgery, and fraud to acquire prescription meds.

Engaging a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer is pivotal when dealing with prescription theft cases of any kind, from the most minor to the most severe. The law has so many complexities within the applicable statutes. Potential defenses require special consideration and the eye of legal professionals with experience handling prescription drug offenses, such as prescription theft, possession, fraud, and forgery. Contact an attorney at 973-524-7238 for a free consultation.

Understanding Prescription Drug Theft Laws in New Jersey

Title 2C of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice furnishes a comprehensive body of law to battle the escalating issue and public health threats. The regulations touch upon various aspects of prescription drug-related transgressions and crimes, including theft, forgery, and fraud. The law characterizes prescription drug theft as the unauthorized acquisition of prescription pads, blanks, or forms, often leading to illicit medication procurement.

As a third degree offense, those convicted of prescription blank or pad theft can face fines of up to $100,000, potential license suspension, and prison time of up to 5 years.

In New Jersey, prosecutors have discretion in bringing prescription drug theft charges and may also file charges for prescription fraud and illegal possession of prescription drugs, depending on the circumstances of the case.

Prescription Theft Tactics and Legal Ramifications

There are different ways in which prescription theft happens, including stealing prescription pads, forging prescriptions, or using deceitful tactics to obtain controlled substances. Offenders may unlawfully obtain prescriptions from healthcare professionals and pharmacists. However, sometimes, individuals may target their family members, friends, work colleagues, and acquaintances.

Theft charges often accompany fraud charges in prescription-drug-related cases, and both carry profound legal repercussions. The former involves the physical act of stealing, while the latter is more deceptive to obtain.

Commonly Targeted Drugs

Prescription drug theft encompasses a range of medications, often falling into three main categories: opioids/narcotics/painkillers, depressants, and stimulants. The specific drugs targeted can vary, but they are typically highly addictive ones. These drugs, including by brand name, are Xanax and Klonopin or benzodiazepines, Vicodin, Percocet, OxyContin or oxycodone, and Adderral, a stimulant frequently prescribed for Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder (ADHD).

Punishments and Diversion Programs for Prescription Theft in New Jersey

The Garden State imposes strict penalties for prescription theft, with the severity determined by factors like the value of stolen medications. Penalties can range from fines and short jail sentences for more minor thefts to substantial fines and lengthy prison terms for more significant offenses. The state is committed to combating the threat to public safety and health and deterring prescription drug-related crimes through the potential legal consequences they impose.

In some instances, diversionary options may be available for those facing prescription theft charges. These alternatives, such as Drug Court or the Pretrial Intervention Program, aim to address the root causes behind the unlawful behavior. These avenues also provide individuals with an opportunity for treatment rather than a strict punishment that mainly just addresses the symptoms of the disorder or addiction. They also offer a fresh start with a clean slate when it comes to your criminal record.

Charged with Theft of Prescription Pads, Blanks or Tablets in NJ? We can Help

Seeking legal counsel is imperative when facing prescription theft or fraud charges in Florham Park, East Hanover, Chatham, Randolph, Parsippany, Denville, and other towns around Morris County and New Jersey. It demands a skilled criminal defense lawyer who can be a strong advocate and someone in your corner with the knowledge to protect your rights. Contact an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney at 973-524-7238 or contact us online today for a complimentary and confidential consultation.

Suppose you are driving on a public road in New Jersey and have a New Jersey driver’s license. In that case, you have already given your permission to take a breathalyzer if you are pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. The Implied Consent Law in New Jersey means that it is assumed you will take a breath test if requested by a police officer. A person has consented to a lawful stop and submitting to a breath test for Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) by simply driving.

Legal Ramifications of Declining Sobriety Testing in NJ

Giving an ambiguous response, placing conditions on your willingness to take the test, not answering the officer when they ask if you will take the test, or an outright refusal are all seen as an unwillingness to cooperate and submit a sample to test the level of alcohol in your bloodstream. A refusal of any kind can lead to charges of refusal to take a breath test, also known as a DWI refusal offense. Additional charges can be added depending on the situation.

Balancing Rights and Responsibilities Through New Jersey’s Implied Consent Law

The purpose of the Implied Consent Law is to protect citizens from drivers who may be under the influence. It does not take away anyone’s right to refuse, but there are consequences for refusing. The Implied Consent Law does not allow the police to take a sample by force. The driver must give their consent and participate willingly in the testing. While some may see the law as an infringement on their rights, driving is considered a privilege, not a right, and legal conditions can be placed on it. This law is designed to protect as many people as possible from the hazards that drivers who are under the influence can cause.

Understanding NJ Traffic Stop Protocols and Implied Consent

Here is a look at the common scenario preceding a DWI refusal charge. The police signaled the driver to pull over. The driver pulls out of the traffic flow to the side of the road. The officer approaches the car, assessing the driver and passengers in the car. The driver is asked to present their license, registration, and proof of insurance. The officer briefly interviews the driver, looking for slurred speech or a strong smell of alcohol. If the officer deems it necessary, they will ask the driver to get out of the car to perform field sobriety tests. Based on the officer’s observations, performance on field sobriety tests, and other relevant factors such as the driver’s operation of the vehicle prior to the stop, the officer may arrest the driver and take them back to the police station for further testing.

Before any breath test is administered, a police officer reads a statement requesting the consent of the driver for the test. The officer will read another statement to seek consent if the driver’s answer is unclear. If the driver gives their consent, two breathalyzer tests will be given. If the driver does not give their consent, they will be charged with refusal to submit to a breathalyzer test.

What Constitutes a Violation of NJ Implied Consent Requirements?

Giving weak samples, giving an insufficient sample, attempting to delay or avoid a breath test, and not responding at all to the officer’s request are considered actions of refusal to take a breathalyzer test.

Consequences of an Implied Consent Law Violation in NJ

Those who refuse to take a breathalyzer test when in custody at the police station can be charged with refusal and DWI/DUI. Refusing to take a breathalyzer test is another offense apart from the DUI/DWI charge. Refusing a test can result in a fine of up to $500, a $1000 surcharge each year for three years, being required to have an ignition interlock device that conducts a breathalyzer test before the car starts for anywhere from 9 to 15 months, a minimum of 12 hours at an Intoxicated Driving Resource Center (IDRC) and a mandatory education fee of $230.

A second refusal could result in a 1 to 2-year license suspension, up to $1000 in fines, a $1,000 surcharge each year for 3 years, a minimum of 12 hours of mandatory education at IDRC, an education fee of $230 per day, and installation of an Ignition Interlock Device during the suspension, as well as between 2 and 4 years post-license reinstatement.

Third and subsequent refusals can result in a 8-year license suspension, installation of an Ignition interlock Device during the suspension and for between 2 and 4 years after the driver’s license has been reinstated, $1,000 fine, a surcharge of $1500 each year for three years, a minimum of 12 hours at an IDRC, and an education fee of $230 per day.

Having a suspended license can have a detrimental effect on someone’s life. Relying on others for rides back and forth to work or to run errands and using public transportation can throw a wrench into the works. Choosing to drive with a suspended license can put you in more hot water, with fines, an extension of your suspension, a license revocation, and jail time.

Possible Legal Options to Contest Refusal Charges in NJ

There are elements of refusal offense cases that can be challenged. If the arresting officer had not read the statements required regarding the test, the driver’s rights may have been violated. If the driver was pulled over illegally, an attorney can potentially challenge if there was probable cause for the traffic stop. With regard to breath testing itself, a knowledgeable and trained DWI defense lawyer can challenge the calibration of the breathalyzer or its operation if either were flawed. There could be medical reasons for refusing a test, such as emphysema, severe asthma, or other pulmonary problems. It is also required that the person be read the refusal form in their native language if they do not speak English. These and many others may be effective defenses based on a talented DWI attorney’s examination of the evidence.

Get An Experienced New Jersey DWI Defense Lawyer to Protect Your Rights when Charged with a Refusal Offense

If you have been pulled over on suspicion of DWI/DUI and charged with refusing to take a breathalyzer test in New Jersey, you need superior legal representation. This is not something you should do alone, nor should your fate be left in the hands of someone who doesn’t have the knowledge and experience needed to represent you best.

Our seasoned DWI attorneys will create a strategy that conforms to the evidence, our decades of experience with DWI case analysis, training and credentials with New Jersey breath testing protocols, and a commitment to reaching the optimal results for our clients in East Hanover, Mount Olive, Chatham, Florham Park, Parsippany, Morristown, and throughout New Jersey. We know how stressful these situations can be. We have succeeded countless times for our clients with an aggressive defense.

If you or someone you know is facing DWI/DUI or related refusal charges in NJ, call us for a consultation. If you are ready to converse with us now, feel free to dial 973-524-7238 or connect with us online to arrange a completely cost-free consultation.

Individuals and groups reserve the unalienable rates to feel safe and secure on their own property. When someone disrespects private property and violates the law by unlawfully trespassing, New Jersey takes this violation seriously and may charge the alleged trespasser with a petty disorderly persons offense, a disorderly persons offense, or in the most serious situations, with a felony. If you have been charged with some form of trespassing in New Jersey, know that you face serious penalties. However, there are defenses for the charge that a skilled criminal defense attorney can help you argue. Contact our firm today for a free consultation to discuss your case, and read on to learn more about the trespassing charge under New Jersey criminal law.

What is the 2C Statute for Trespassing in NJ?

The statute that governs trespassing in New Jersey is Section 2C:18-3

Overview of Criminal Trespassing Under New Jersey Law

There are three main types of criminal trespassing according to New Jersey law. Defiant trespassing, unlicensed entry of a structure, and peering all carry different penalties.

Defiant trespassing is the entry of a property despite a warning against trespassing. A warning could come in the form of signage, fencing, closed hedges, or a verbal decree against trespassing. Defiant trespassing is a petty disorderly persons offense that comes with a penalty of up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Unlicensed entry of a structure encompasses entering certain properties without authorization. New Jersey law names private dwellings,  schools, waste treatment facilities, some other public utilities facilities, and research facilities as structures specifically pertaining to unlicensed entry trespassing law. When the unlicensed entrance or remaining in a structure pertains to one of the aforementioned places, then the offense is considered a fourth degree crime punishable by a maximum of 18 months in jail and fines of up to $10,000. Otherwise, this type of criminal trespass constitutes a disorderly persons offense, with penalties of up to six months in jail and $1000 in fines.

Peering is looking through a window or visual opening into the private property and space of someone who could reasonably expect to not be observed. Because peering is a marked violation of privacy and emotional safety, it carries the steepest penalties under New Jersey law. Trespassing by peering is a fourth degree crime whose punishment is up to 18 months in jail and fines of up to $10,000.

Navigating Trespassing Charges Through Three Sound Defenses

There are three primary defenses that can be argued for a trespassing charge. The first is that the property on which the accused is said to have trespassed is public property. If the person gained access legally, they cannot be charged with illegal trespassing. Secondly, if the accused reasonably thought the property was abandoned, they may have a defense. Evidence reflecting a state of disrepair akin to abandonment supports this defense. Finally, the accused can use the defense that they reasonably believed they were welcome on the property. Providing evidence of good standing with the property owner or a history of spending time on the property will support this defense.

Trespassing and Burglary in Legal Contrast

Trespassing and burglary seem similar, but their differences are substantial. Trespassing is entering another’s property without permission. Burglary is entering another’s property without permission and with the intent to commit another crime. As such, burglary charges are almost always more severe than trespassing charges.

NJ Expungement Process for Trespassing

New Jersey permits expungement of one indictable offense and up to three disorderly or petty disorderly persons offenses. Generally, one must wait five years after the penalty is served to request expungement.

Talk to an Experienced Criminal Attorney if You Have Been Charged with Trespassing in New Jersey

A trespassing charge can lead to serious consequences, but fortunately, there are options for a strong defense. In order to ensure that your defense is backed up by solid evidence and argument, it is important to enlist help from a criminal defense lawyer who is well-versed in the in’s and out’s of New Jersey criminal law. Our defense team of former prosecutors and experienced criminal defense attorneys can help you build the bulletproof defense you need to be acquitted or to employ our knowledge of working within the justice system to help you attain a reduced sentence.

Your future shouldn’t be at risk because of a trespassing charge. Our team of lawyers has ample experience representing clients in East Hanover, Chatham, Parsippany, Mount Olive, Florham Park, Chatham, Morristown, and other towns in the Morris County area in their trespassing cases. Contact us today at 973-524-7238 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your charge and learn how we can help you.

Examining Domestic Violence from a Felony or Misdemeanor Perspective in NJ

In New Jersey, crimes are delineated into two types: non-indictable, or misdemeanor crimes; and indictable, or felony crimes. The severity of the alleged crime will determine whether a person is charged with a non-indictable or indictable offense. The penalties vary greatly between the two. In many states, domestic violence is a criminal charge unto itself. However, New Jersey law instead augments other filed charges to include a domestic violence component if they involve a person protected under the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991. If a criminal offense is categorized as an act of domestic violence, then a criminal action and a civil action in the form of a restraining order may apply. If you have been charged with a misdemeanor, known as a disorderly persons offense, or a felony crime of the first, second, third, or fourth degree for domestic violence in New Jersey, contact our firm immediately to discuss your next steps.

Ramifications of Domestic Violence Charges

Domestic violence can be considered a misdemeanor offense or a felony offense, both of which result in a criminal record upon conviction. A felony offense is considered more severe, meaning more potential jail time and steeper fines. Domestic violence convictions can also lead to loss of child custody and visitation rights, the constitutional right to own a firearm, and more. When determining the specific penalties, one must first identify the offense itself.

Navigating Domestic Violence Offenses Under New Jersey Law

According to N.J.S.A. 2C:25-19a, domestic violence offenses pertain to disorderly persons offenses or indictable charges involving a person protected by the New Jersey Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991. Offenses that qualify under the Act include homicide, assault, terroristic threats, kidnapping, criminal restraint, false imprisonment, sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, lewdness, criminal mischief, burglary, criminal trespassing, harassment, cyber harassment, stalking, criminal coercion, robbery, contempt of a domestic violence order, and any other crime risking death or serious physical injury to someone protected under the Act.

Legal Repercussions Arising from Domestic Violence Offenses in NJ

Domestic violence crimes lead to serious penalties. If the offense results in an indictable charge, penalties range depending on the severity of the felony. A fourth-degree conviction can result in 18 months behind bars and up to a $10,000 fine. A third-degree conviction brings three to five years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines. The penalty for a second-degree felony conviction is between five and ten years in prison and up to $150,000 in fines. A first-degree domestic violence conviction can result in up to 20 years in prison and as many as $20,000 in fines. Some offenses, such as kidnapping, entail even longer potential sentences.

Factors Elevating Domestic Violence to Felony Charges

Factors that can contribute to a domestic violence offense being a felony charge include the alleged abuser’s use of weapons or strangulation, their causing serious physical injury to a victim, or their violation of a restraining order by committing another act of domestic violence.

Distinct Treatment of Misdemeanors and Felonies in the New Jersey Court System

Non-indictable misdemeanors and indictable felonies are handled very differently in the New Jersey criminal court system. Felonies are heard by New Jersey Superior courts. Misdemeanors are heard in Municipal courts. The process involved, as well, is different depending on the severity of the charge. For example, a prosecutor must seek an indictment from the a Grand Jury to pursue the felony charge against an individual. Felony cases are heard before a jury of one’s peers who determine guilt and innocence. On the other hand, misdemeanor domestic violence charges that are heard at the Municipal court level are heard by a judge alone.

Our Defense Lawyers Work to Prevent Domestic Violence Convictions in Morris County, NJ

Domestic violence convictions can have lifelong negative effects. In addition to facing severe penalties such as long jail or prison terms and outrageous fines, you may be unable to expunge a domestic violence conviction from your criminal record depending on the offense, meaning that future employers will be able to see your conviction when they run a background check, and you’ll be ineligible to own a firearm in the state. If you are facing a domestic violence charge, you need the immediate and comprehensive representation of a qualified domestic violence defense attorney.

Our team at is dedicated to helping individuals in Randolph, Florham Park, Parsippany, East Hanover, Chatham, and other towns in the Morris County area to defend their rights and remain a productive and successful member of society after a domestic violence charge. Contact us today at 973-524-7238 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your charges.

Criminal restraint, as written in the New Jersey criminal code, is charged when a person uses force to prohibit another person from departing a precise location or a possibly dangerous situation with risk of bodily injury. Criminal restraint charges can also be filed in cases of domestic violence. Preventing a spouse or partner from leaving on their own volition by threatening harm is against the law. New Jersey takes this charge very seriously, and the penalties for criminal restraint can be grim.

Kidnapping, criminal restraint, and false imprisonment are often mislabeled. Kidnapping involves the physical removal of a person from one place to another against their will to facilitate a crime, inflict bodily injury, terrorize the victim, alter the actions of governmental or political action, or prevent a parent or guardian access to a minor. Kidnapping is a first-degree felony. False imprisonment is similar to criminal restraint but without the threat of harm. It is a disorderly persons offense.

Two Paths to Commit Criminal Restraint

There are two ways to commit criminal restraint. The first is if the defendant knowingly and unlawfully restrains the victim and illegally exposes them to danger, violence, or harm. The second is to hold the victim in a condition of involuntary servitude.

Necessary Requirements to Prove Criminal Restraint in NJ

Several elements must be present for the charge of criminal restraint to be applied. First, the defendant had to have acted knowingly, meaning they were aware of the possible consequences of their actions on the victim. This state of mind is known as mens rea, the Latin term for the intention or knowledge of wrongdoing that constitutes part of a crime.

The defendant’s actions must be unlawful. The forcible restraining of the victim is accomplished by lying to manipulate the victim, physically forcing them to stay, or threatening them into compliance. Actual physical violence isn’t always needed to convince the victim they were unable to leave. The RISK of death, disfigurement, or serious bodily injury, without the manifestation of violence, is still considered criminal restraint. Additionally, violence that is used to restrain the victim continually is part of this law. Holding a person in involuntary servitude means the victim is detained by force, intimidation, imprisonment, or other means against their will.

The prosecution must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt: the defendant knew what they were doing was a crime and that restraining the victim and exposing them to serious harm was also a condition of involuntary servitude.

An Example of Criminal Restraint from a Real-Life Scenario

Let’s look at this example that breaks down the components of this law:  Gunther and his wife, Hannah, have been married for 11 years. Recently, Gunther lost his job and became despondent. One evening, Hannah chose to go out with some coworkers, and when she arrived home, Gunther was less than cordial. An argument ensued, and Gunther made it very clear that he was armed and had no intention of letting Hannah out of the house, not then, not ever. Hannah spent the weekend locked in the guest room. Gunther brought her food and drinks but would not let her leave and assured her that any attempt to flee would result in her demise. By Wednesday, family and friends who had been unable to speak with her decided to get the police involved for a wellness check. They were able to diffuse the situation and took Gunther into custody.

Analysis:  Gunther knew he was restraining Hannah, that the restraint was unlawful, and his actions were illegal, so the “knowingly” part of the offense is covered. Hannah was forced to stay in the guest room/in their house, so her liberty was interfered with. Also, Gunther had a weapon and threatened to use it, which is a risk of bodily injury.

Grave Consequences For Criminal Restraint in NJ

Criminal restraint is a third-degree felony with a prison term of up to five years and a fine of up to $15,000. It is rarely the only charge in those circumstances. Assault, domestic violence, weapons charges, and others are commonly seen with criminal restraint charges.

Criminal Restraint and the Requirements for NJ Pretrial Intervention Program

New Jersey allows individuals with no prior indictable offense convictions or failed attempts to complete the PTI program to have their charges dismissed upon completion. If the individual violates the program’s rules or does not complete the required activities, such as classes and community service, the charges will be sought again. However, domestic violence offenses are presumably considered ineligible for Pre-Trial Intervention, so if a criminal restraint charge is filed in a domestic violence case, this changes things substantially. There are exceptions that can be made but this undoubtedly requires assistance from an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

Preventing a Conviction for Criminal Restraint in New Jersey

Weak witness testimony filled with few details, conflicting statements, and sweeping generalizations don’t go very far in a criminal court. If the prosecutor cannot rely on the victim to give a clear account of the events, there will likely be no conviction.

Criminal restraint charges cannot hold up against the parents or guardians of minors when the purpose is only to get control of the child. However, if the prosecution presents evidence of an event- or series of events- that within a custody or visitation dispute indicates one parent refusing to allow the other their legal parenting time, the “controlling the child” defense is useless.

Criminal Restraint as a Basis for a Domestic Violence Restraining Order

As in the prior example, domestic violence cases frequently coincide with criminal restraint charges. Restraining orders can be filed against a spouse, significant other, an ex, or family member. A Temporary Restraining Order is granted almost immediately. The main condition of the TRO is that the defendant does not contact the complainant by phone, text, email, letter, or through a third party. After 10 days, a hearing will decide if the order will become permanent. At this hearing, both sides can bring witnesses to testify on their behalf.

If the defendant and the plaintiff reside in the same place, police will escort the defendant out of the home. The defendant is prohibited from going to the plaintiff’s place of employment, school, gym, friends’ homes if the plaintiff is there, or any public place that would go against the required distance between them as is stipulated in the order.

Distinguishing Between Restraining Orders and Criminal Proceedings on the Basis of Criminal Restraint in NJ

Restraining Orders are decided in Family Superior Court. The Temporary Restraining Order is issued for 10 days while the Final Restraining Order does not have an end date. To obtain an order, there must be proof of imminent danger. Criminal Proceedings occur in Superior Court if it is an indictable offense or Municipal Court if it is a disorderly person offense.

Disregarding a restraining order is considered contempt of court, and contrary to popular belief, you can go to jail for ignoring the order. Criminal proceedings are charges against the defendant because they have broken the law. The relationship between a restraining order violation and a felony charge for a violent crime is that the sentence determined for the criminal conviction may be longer than the suggested minimum due to the circumstances regarding the restraining order when the victim(s) of both are involved.

Our Dedicated Attorneys are Here to Defend Your Case if You Have Been Accused of Criminal Restraint in Morris County, NJ

If you or someone you know is facing criminal restraint charges, legal representation is of the utmost importance. A felony conviction can be detrimental to you in many ways: obtaining a loan, background checks for apartments, and certain professions such as teaching, law enforcement, or government jobs, and others.

Our practiced attorneys have a deep desire for justice and while we know that your case is unique, previous experience has shown us that it is attention to detail and the careful consideration of all of the facts of a case that can build your defense. We advocate for clients in Parsippany, Morristown, Florham Park, Denville, Randolph, Mount Olive, Madison, and other towns in the Morris County area.

If you would like to talk with us now, call 973-524-7238 or contact us online for an absolutely free consultation.

If you or someone you know are facing a charge in New Jersey for a domestic violence offense and are awaiting a detention hearing, you probably have a lot of questions and concerns. The purpose of detention in the criminal justice process is mainly to ensure the safety of victims and the community at large. Comprehensive New Jersey bail reform, The New Jersey Criminal Justice Reform Act, was enacted in 2017 and it made significant changes to how detention of criminal defendants is handled in all criminal cases, including domestic violence cases, in New Jersey. The reform moved New Jersey’s pretrial detention system away from a monetary-based bail system into a risk-based assessment to reform the discriminatory effects of the old system on low-income defendants.

Within New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, certain offenses are considered acts of domestic violence when they are committed in the context of a relationship covered by the Act. These offenses include, but are not limited to, sexual assault, simple assault, terroristic threats, and criminal restraint. New Jersey’s Domestic Violence Act includes a mandatory arrest provision and, accordingly, all domestic violence cases, including simple assault or violation of a restraining order, require a detention hearing.

Step by Step After Being Arrested or Charged with Domestic Violence in NJ

When you are arrested for a domestic violence offense, you must be aware that you have certain constitutional rights, including your right to remain silent, that anything you say or do can be used against you in a court of law, that you have the right to an attorney and, if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.

Then, a set of procedural steps will begin, starting with the booking process. The police will collect some biographical information for identification purposes, including your full legal name, any aliases, date of birth, and address. The police will take your driver’s license and/or any other identifying information you may have on you, along with any other personal items in your possession. The booking process will also include taking your fingerprints and photo. You will be held in a holding cell until your detention hearing, which may be up to 48 hours after your arrest. During this time, you may meet with your attorney.

A Public Safety Assessment (PSA) will be conducted before your detention hearing, which will grade your likelihood of having certain risk factors for release. The PSA serves as an important tool for the judge when assessing whether a condition or set of conditions on your release could reasonably assure that you will not be a flight risk, danger to others, or attempt to obstruct justice. Your attorney will want to review this assessment to prepare for your detention hearing.

Weighing the Relevant Factors at a Domestic Violence Detention Hearing

In making his or her determination, the judge will consider the alleged facts surrounding your current criminal charges, your criminal history, whether your offense was violent in nature, your age, and ties to the community (including employment, home ownership, children, and other factors), any past violations of no-contact orders, past probation violations, and any prior failures to appear in court.

After reviewing your PSA and considering all of these factors, including your defense and arguments against detainment, the judge will determine whether you will be released pending trial and, if so, with what conditions, if any.

Pre-Trial Release Conditions and Options for Domestic Violence Defendants

At your detention hearing, the judge will determine if you should be detained while pending trial or if you can be released with or without conditions. These conditions may include restraining orders to present contact with victims, monitoring alcohol or drug use, not committing another offense during the release period, not contacting any witnesses about the offense, complying with a curfew, refraining from possession of a firearm or other dangerous weapon, and even house arrest.

One condition of your release could be house arrest pending trial, in which you may be released from police custody, but you will be prohibited from leaving your home, and your location will be tracked with a GPS device, usually in the form of an ankle monitoring device. This device will immediately notify law enforcement if you leave your home without authorization, and if you do, you will almost certainly be ordered to be detained pending trial. House arrest in domestic violence cases cannot, of course, occur in the home of the victim and will usually include a no-contact order with the victim.

Our Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers Fight for Your Release at a Detention Hearing

At your detention hearing, you have a right to present your defense. The prosecution has the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that you should be detained because, for most offenses, there is a presumption of release. The only exception to this is if you are charged with murder or an offense that carries the potential of a life sentence, in which case there is a presumption against your release. 

For most offenses, if your attorney can argue to the judge’s satisfaction that a certain condition or set of conditions provide reasonable assurance that you will not be a flight risk, threat to the safety of the victim in the case and anyone else, or try to obstruct the criminal justice policy, then the judge must order you to be released, pursuant to any necessary conditions, while awaiting trial.

Individuals who remain detained pending trial tend to receive harsher sentences if convicted. If you or someone you love are facing domestic violence charges in Parsippany, Chatham, Randolph, Denville, Florham Park, and other towns around the Morris County area, do not wait until after a detention hearing to contact a New Jersey domestic violence defense attorney. Having an advocate by your side at your detention hearing is incredibly important, and we are prepared to fight for your release during these proceedings. Contact 973-524-7238 to talk to a criminal defense attorney regarding your case.

Internet sex crimes are almost always considered felonies in the state of New Jersey and may even be tried as federal offenses. If you have been charged with an internet sex crime, you need the legal counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney to help fight for your rights. Contact us for a free and confidential consultation today, and find out how the New Jersey criminal justice system awards steep sentences for internet sex offenses.

Actions Classified As Internet Sex Crimes in The State of New Jersey

A cyber sex crime blends the two illegal activities of cyber crimes and sex crimes. A cybercrime is an illegal act of a criminal nature carried out using the internet. A sex crime is an illegal offense that carries a sexual component. As such, cybersex crimes are sex crimes utilizing the internet. There are many different variations of cybersex crimes that may lead to serious felony charges in New Jersey.

Various Forms of Sexual Offenses Committed Over the Internet

There are two prevalent types of internet sex crimes, each of which has multiple components: child pornography and cyber harassment.

Child Pornography

This type of activity is very grave and carries serious criminal consequences. Child pornography charges are separated into varying degrees of severity based on their nature, including possession, distribution, and production. When child pornography includes internet distribution, it often becomes a federal matter when it is distributed across state lines; as such, the charges mount, and penalties become more severe. Involving a child in production of sexually pornographic material is considered endangering the welfare of a child and carries a second degree felony offense; this severity is heightened when the child’s own guardian is responsible for this child endangerment, at which point the charge is elevated to a first degree felony, the most severe level that exists in the New Jersey criminal justice system.

Attempting to use the internet to lure a child into participating in sexual behavior is also a related internet sex crime.

Cyber Sexual Harassment

This illegal activity involves the sending of communication or material of a sexual nature to someone without their permission and with the intent to cause them emotional harm. This material could be sent directly to them or about them, as in the case with revenge porn, in which sexually explicit material involving them is more widely distributed without their consent. Cyber sexual harassment could include a separate charge, invasion of privacy, when a person is recorded in a sexually compromising position or act without their permission.

Severe Legal Consequences for Cyber Sex Crimes in NJ

Child pornography charges are very serious; carrying third, second, or first-degree felonies varies based on the specific charge: possession, distribution, or production. First-time possession of child pornography usually carries a third degree felony charge that could result in a three-to-five year sentence and fines of up to $15,000. Distribution is typically graded as a second degree offense carrying a five-to-ten year sentence and fines of up to $150,000. Production of child pornography and child endangerment are first degree felonies that could result in up to 20 years in prison and $200,000 in fines when the defendant is responsible for the care of the child involved.

Cyber sexual harassment charges carry serious penalties and vary based on the activity’s nature. Usually, they carry fourth or third degree charges that result in up to 18 months and five years of prison time and up to $10,000 or $15,000 in fines, respectively.

Potential Secondary Effects of Internet Sex Crimes in NJ

In addition to facing prison time and exorbitant fines as a result of cybersex crimes, there are collateral consequences. Most often, those who commit sex crimes or internet sex crimes are required to register as sex offenders under Megan’s Law. Additionally, being a registered sex offender could have adverse consequences for your professional and personal life moving forward, and failure to register under Megan’s Law comes with its own charges and penalties.

Internet Sex Crimes Lawyer Advocating for Clients in Morris County, New Jersey

If you have been charged with an internet sex crime, the most important thing to do is immediately call an experienced criminal defense attorney and refuse to speak to investigators or anyone else until you have your attorney present. A skilled defense team will help you build a strong case and prevent you from further incriminating yourself. Our team is well-versed in defending our clients’ rights in Florham Park, Denville, Mount Arlington, Butler, Riverdale, East Hanover, and neighboring towns across New Jersey in their defense needs, including internet sex crimes. Contact our team without hesitation at 973-524-7238 or use the online contact option to set up a confidential and free consultation to discuss your charge.

Certain New Jersey citizens are entitled to apply for certain firearm permits. Because the reality of owning a gun is a serious matter and responsibility, there are strict guidelines for who can own and carry a gun and under what circumstances. If you have had your gun permit application denied, you need the help of a firearms law attorney to build a strong case for your appeal. Contact 973-524-7238 to discuss your application and get a free consultation about filing an appeal, and read on to learn more about the specifics of appealing a gun permit denial in New Jersey.

Gun Permit Applications Eligible for Appeal in NJ

New Jersey has multiple types of gun licenses and permits for different uses; there is no ‘one size fits all’ gun permit. Denied gun permit applications for firearms purchaser identification cards, permits to purchase handguns, and handgun carry permits can all be appealed.

What Are Possible Justifications for Someone to be Denied a New Jersey Gun Permit?

The qualifications for obtaining a gun permit are quite strict and, in some ways, up to the discretion of the law enforcement agency which issues the permit. For example, a person could be denied a gun permit due to prior criminal convictions and a criminal record. Additionally, someone who has a history of substance abuse, including alcohol or drugs, may very well be denied a gun permit. A person who has a restraining order filed against them can have their application denied. And a gun permit may also be denied to someone with physical or mental limitations that it is deemed could impair their capacity to safely operate a firearm; in this case, it is up to the individual to prove through an appeal that they can safely operate a gun. It is even in the awarding agency’s purview to deny a person a gun permit because it is deemed that it would not be in society’s best or safest interest for the person to have legal access to a firearm.

Who is Responsible for Hearing the Appeal of a Firearm Permit Application Denial in NJ?

While original gun permit applications are overseen by the local police department, appeals to a denial decision are handled by the Superior Court in the county in which the permit application was originally filed.

How to Appeal a Denial of a Gun Permit in New Jersey

A denied gun permit application can be appealed within thirty days of the date the original application was denied. The appeal is served to the Superior Court in the county in which the permit application was originally submitted. A notice of appeal must be provided to the law enforcement agency that denied the original application. Because the burden of proving appeal legitimacy lies with the applicant, it is important that an appeal of a rejected firearms permit application is handled by an experienced gun permit lawyer.

Is Anyone Entitled to Appeal the Denial of a Gun Permit in NJ?

Those who have been denied a gun permit have the right to appeal the decision. However, some denials are straightforward, and as such an appeal does not make sense, such as the case of an individual who has been convicted of a felony. While it is wise to discuss your individual case with a gun permit attorney, you may be advised against appeal if you are legally ineligible or unlikely to prevail in appealing the decision. However, there are many gun permit denials that can be successfully appealed with a comprehensive, compelling argument and supportive evidence that your attorney can assemble and present on your behalf.

Seek the Advice of an Experienced Gun Attorney for Help Appealing a Gun Permit Denial

The Superior Court will err on the side of hyper-vigilance and public safety when it comes to gun permit appeals, so having a rock solid case for your application being approved is invaluable in these situations. Because our lawyers understand the system and the specifics of the denial and appeal process, we are highly qualified and prepared to handle the gun permit appeal that you may need to file anywhere in New Jersey.

Our team of experienced attorneys has helped our clients in Morristown, Harding, Randolph, Rockaway, Chatham, Parsippany, Morris County and elsewhere in New Jersey to appeal various types of gun permit denials. Contact us at 973-524-7238 to find out more about appealing your rejected firearm license and move forward with your appeal today.

The Fourth Amendment protects people’s fundamental right to be free from unnecessary governmental intrusion into private spaces. The state may not conduct unreasonable searches of people’s homes, cars, or businesses and seize personal property without probable cause or a warrant. What is unreasonable is the subject of case law since the country’s inception. In a recent New Jersey Supreme Court case, State vs. Williams, the Court determined when police investigations should end after a motor data terminal (MDT) identifies the vehicle owner’s revoked driver’s license, but the vehicle driver is not the owner.

A Deeper Look into the State vs. Williams Case

In Williams, the Supreme Court crafted a rule for police officers making MDT stops only to find the vehicle driver is not the registered owner. The police officers, in this case, ran an MDT on the Nissan Williams drove. Williams had not violated any traffic laws. However, the officers found the vehicle registered to someone with a revoked license. The owner was a female, but when the officers pulled Williams over, they found two males in the car. Nevertheless, Officer Kless asked for Williams’ license, insurance, and registration.

At the trial, Officer Kless testified that he smelled marijuana after approaching the vehicle’s passenger side, though admittedly through a stuffed nose. The officers at the scene had Williams and his codefendant step out of the car while they called for backup with a dog sniffer that identified marijuana in the vehicle. They also found a firearm in the car. The officers performed a pat down search and arrested both. Williams fled, but the officers caught him and arrested him.

Throughout the detention, Williams protested that the officers had no consent from the owner to search the vehicle. The officers replied that they didn’t need one. At the trial, the defendants’ lawyers moved to suppress evidence obtained from the search, but the judge denied the motion. The defendants faced unlawful possession of weapons charges, and the jury convicted them.

The defendants filed an appeal based on the suppression motion denial, an erroneous gun possession jury instruction, and the police cam video introduction to the jury that heard the defendant’s complaints about the search. The defense’s central claim was that the police violated their Fourth Amendment rights by unreasonably prolonging the stop. The state responded that the officers could continue the stop to examine the driver’s documents.

The NJ Supreme Court’s Decision on Stopping Vehicles and Investigating Drivers after License Checks

The appellate Court confirmed the trial court ruling and the jury verdict, but the Supreme Court of New Jersey disagreed. The Court first examined case law on the legality of stopping a vehicle based on an MDT. It ruled that stopping a car based on an MDT turning up a suspended or revoked license is enough reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle. However, once an officer sees that the vehicle occupant or occupants do not fit the description of the one with the revoked or suspended license, they must refrain from further investigation and let the driver go.

The Court considered that officers only sometimes have a clear view of a driver in the dark or in conditions that make identification possible. In those cases, the Court ruled that a case-by-case consideration was necessary. But when it is evident that the registered owner and the vehicle driver or passenger are not the same people, they must discontinue the detention.

Discovering Evidence and Lawfully Detaining Individuals during MDT Checks

The Court noted that there might be instances when an officer detains a vehicle after an MDT check raises a reasonable suspicion of a possible driver without a valid license, and in the course of the stop, the officer discovers evidence of another crime underway, like a gun, or smell of alcohol, or drugs in plain view. Law enforcement is not obliged to ignore the evidence but can further detain the occupants to conduct a reasonable investigation for a reasonable period of time.

What the police cannot do is continue investigating when there is no reasonable suspicion of a crime. The Court determined that Officer Klee’s testimony that he smelled marijuana, even when another officer said he did not, was insufficient evidence to raise a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity to justify further detention or a search and seizure. But first, the Court validated the legality of an MDT stop.

Getting Perspective from Previous Cases

The Court first weighed the state’s legitimate interest in keeping roadways safe by checking for licensed drivers, against the unreasonable intrusion into an individual’s privacy. The Court in Delaware v. Prouse required an officer’s reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing to make a discretionary stop, meaning one where a traffic violation or other evidence of unlawful behavior did not justify pursuit. And yet, Glover vs. Kansas gave officers reasonable suspicion grounds to stop a vehicle with a driver suspected of driving on a suspended license. In other words, officers could assume the driver was the vehicle owner that they searched in the revoked or suspended license database.

The Court’s discussion about a revoked license in Kansas supports law enforcement’s reasonable suspicion for a stop. An officer rightly assumes that a driver who drives on a suspended or revoked license disregards the law and, thus, is breaking the law by driving with a revoked license at the time of the detention. Statistics show that drivers still drive on suspended or revoked licenses, supporting the assumption that a driver could be the registered owner on the road illegally.

However, Justice Kagan in Glover noted that the analysis would be different if the officers found a license suspension or revocation from another state that suspended licenses for reasons unrelated to driving laws, such as parking tickets, child support, and court fees. Kansas saved revocation for serious offenses but suspensions for matters unrelated to motor vehicle laws. New Jersey does not distinguish between revocation and suspension, so either could be for non-serious or severe offenses.

The Glover court noted that the outcome (the prolonged MDT stop and arrest was warranted) would be different if the officers could clearly see that the driver and owner were not the same by clear objective evidence of age, gender, race, etc. The Court then announced the rule for officers in conducting a stop based on an MDT and its limitations. The Court reversed the appellate court decision, ruling the suppression motion should have been granted, but denied the jury instruction and cam recorder introduction objections. The case was remanded to the trial court.

When Should the Inspection Proceed or Stop Based on a Revoked License in NJ?

The new rule for officers pursuing revoked or suspended license drivers from computer-based searches is that an initial stop based on the MDT search is reasonable and authorized. However, once an officer sees that the driver could not reasonably be the vehicle owner by the photo and description in the computer as compared to the driver’s license and appearance, the detention must cease. They must not linger, ask for documents, or stay there to examine them. However, while the stop is legal, meaning the time for the officer to look at the driver and see that the driver is not the owner, an officer may detain the driver for a reasonable time to investigate plain view criminal evidence.

The Fourth Amendment and Your Rights Regarding Stop and Search

The Court essentially defended the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights to be free of government intrusion, which occurs once the officers have no reason to continue a stop. Law enforcement cannot detain someone without a reasonable suspicion of a legal violation. They cannot wait around until they find evidence. That would be an unreasonable search and seizure. Thus, defendants in New Jersey must be aware that they can be stopped legally by an MDT search of a suspended or revoked license. However, once the officer determines that the driver is not the owner, they must let the driver go in the absence of other evidence of violations.

Talk to an Experienced Criminal Attorney if You Have been Charged after a License Suspension Check in New Jersey

Many criminal defenses rest on police pushing the limits or misinterpreting the limits of a police detention, search, and seizure. For this reason, a criminal defense attorney must examine the facts and evidence after their client’s arrest. Fourth Amendment violations occur all too often, and a motion to suppress keeps illegally obtained evidence implicating a defendant from reaching a jury. Our job as criminal defense lawyers is to ensure that our clients get fair trials, to protect the rights they are due under the constitution, and to ensure that the prosecution’s case does not hinge on evidence arising from illegal state activity. Contact 973-524-7238 to talk to a criminal defense attorney after an MDT-based stop and arrest on New Jersey roadways. We represent clients in Dover, Mount Olive, Morristown, East Hanover, Denville, Chatham, Madison, and other towns in the Morris County area.