If you have recently been accused of a crime in New Jersey, there’s no doubt you have plenty of questions about all the terms and rules that could apply to your case. In this difficult situation, knowing what to expect and how to interpret different terms could make a big difference in your ability to navigate the situation and respond to criminal charges.

Criminal Complaints: Summons and Warrants

A criminal complaint in New Jersey can be started by any citizen or police officer, even though the police are the most likely to issue a complaint. They come in two different forms: warrant complaints and summons complaints. When a warrant complaint has been filed with the court, the judge reviews it. If the judge signs the complaint, this authorizes police officers to arrest the accused individual named in the complaint. Warrant complaints are issued in cases involving more serious crimes, including: homicide, aggravated manslaughter, manslaughter, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, robbery, carjacking, or escape, or an attempt to commit any of these crimes. A warrant complaint may also be issued if a defendant has been extradited from another state in connection with a criminal charge.

Warrant complaints are usually filed for serious crimes, whereas summons complaints are generally issued for disorderly persons offenses. Under a summons complaint, this formally orders the person to appear in court in relation to the issue named in the complaint, but does not empower officers to seek out the person and arrest them. However, it should be noted that you may be arrested at the time that the summons complaint is issued. In other words, a summons complaint may be issued for a disorderly persons offense after your initial arrest and processing or “booking” at the police station. Also, in cases involving domestic violence disorderly persons offenses such as simple assault, bail reform in New Jersey now requires an initial arrest and detention hearing for any person charged with an act of domestic violence.

Offenses: Indictable, Disorderly Persons, & Petty Disorderly Persons 

Crimes in New Jersey are charged at various levels, depending on the severity of the crime and other factors. Indictable offenses in NJ are similar to what other states would call felonies, referring to more serious crimes. Other terms used to describe what most states would call misdemeanors are known as petty disorderly person offenses and disorderly person offenses in New Jersey. A few factors could lead the prosecution to elevate a disorderly persons offense to the level of indictable offense, or vice versa.

Complaint Administrative Dismissal

Not all complaints go through the formal legal process ending in criminal charges. For instance, a complaint could be dismissed based on a court determination that there’s not enough evidence to proceed. A complaint could also be dismissed at the request of the victim, but the court does not always have to honor the victim’s wishes. When evaluating whether or not to dismiss a complaint, factors like prior criminal history of the defendant, whether there are any other pending charges, and the severity of the crime, are all taken into account.

Municipal Remand

Certain complaints might be subject to something known as municipal remand. This is done when the prosecutors on the case believe that the case can be fully dealt with at the municipal level. The charge will be amended to a disorderly persons offense and then transferred down to the local Municipal Court, where the case will then be adjudicated. A municipal remand is a very positive thing for a defendant, as it means they will be exposed to less severe penalties than those that are on the line in a Superior Court case for a felony.

Under certain circumstances, your attorney may be able to negotiate a charge reduction down to a disorderly persons offense and secure a transfer from the County Superior Court to the local Municipal Court. This always depends on the facts of your case and the specific charge you are facing, but if a downgrade and remand is successful, the punishments associated with a conviction can be significantly reduced.

Bench Warrant

A bench warrant is an order issued by the court when there is a claim that the person in question has failed to do something that he/she was required to do through orders from the court. There are a few different reasons why the court would issue a bench warrant, including a parole violation, failure to appear for a court date, contempt for failure to comply with court-ordered conditions, violation of a condition of bail, failure to pay child support, or failure to pay fines. Once a person has been arrested on a bench warrant, that person stays in custody until the warrant is recalled, the conditions of the warrant have been satisfied, or the person satisfies the conditions of bail, depending on the specific circumstances of the case.

Arraignment

An arraignment is also known as a first appearance in court for a criminal case. This is the point in time at which the defendant is read the specific charges against them and enters a plea of guilty or not guilty. If the defendant enters a plea of not guilty, there are several options for what happens next. The state might make a plea offer, or the case could be resolved by way of entrance into the Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program. Typically, these decisions are made during pre-indictement conferences and pre-trial hearings. If the case is not resolved in the pre-trial phases, it will proceed to trial. The case is scheduled for sentencing only if the defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty after a trial.

Grand Jury

Both state and federal constitutions guarantee that every person charged with a crime have the right to an independent review by a Grand Jury. Remember, a “crime” in New Jersey solely refers to indictable crimes (also known as felonies). Other criminal offenses that are not subject to indictment are classified as either disorderly persons offenses or petty disorderly persons offenses. A  case could also be referred by the prosecutor to the Grand Jury. The job of the grand jury is to hear and decide whether or not there is enough evidence to proceed with a criminal charge. The case will be dismissed as “no bill” if there is not sufficient evidence to move forward.

It is important to note that grand jury proceedings only apply to indictable crimes in New Jersey, which are essentially equivalent to felonies in states other than New Jersey. An indictable crime must be formally indicted by a Grand Jury before the case proceeds to trial. This process only occurs in New Jersey Superior Court. Municipal court cases are heard and decided by the individual presiding judge in the local court in the municipality where the charges were issued.

Have a Criminal Case? Get a Morristown Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Help

It is very important for anyone accused of any criminal offense in Morris County or elsewhere in New Jersey to have a dedicated criminal defense attorney’s help. Understanding the criminal justice process, your rights, and what your specific charges mean is imperative if you want to pursue your best option. Our lawyers have extensive experience practicing criminal defense in Morristown, Morris County, and throughout NJ and we are here to help you. Simply contact us to receive a free consultation and get the essential information you need now.

Arrested with Gun CDS in Morris County NJ top attorneys near meDisorderly persons offenses and indictable offenses in New Jersey can carry heightened penalties when more than one crime is charged at the same time. When drugs and weapons allegations are included in the same case, the accused party must understand how these offenses interact with one another and change the landscape for potential consequences. Specifically, drugs and gun violations carry between 5 to 10-year prison terms in addition to separate sentences for the other offenses. Each of those assigned sentences may be served consecutively, with the entirety of one term required to be completely finished before the subsequent sentence begins.

Any time that more than one charge is assessed, the most effective criminal defense strategy must be mounted immediately. If you or a loved one has been charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, illegal possession of a firearm, intent to distribute a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), or more than one gun charge or drug offense, contact a skilled Morris County criminal defense attorney for immediate assistance with your case. Please contact us 24/7 for a free legal consultation and discuss the implications of your specific criminal charges.

Drug Possession Charges in New Jersey

When a person receives a summons or complaint for a drug charge, the statute or statutes in question will be listed on the document starting with the letters “N.J.S.A.” These details explain the specifics of the individual offense and where the case will be handled. This information can also be used to determine sentencing consequences.

For example, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10 governs most of the controlled dangerous substances charges in New Jersey. These offenses are often charged in conjunction with complaint for possession of drug paraphernalia.

These charges are graded on a schedule based on the type of drug. Commonly used substances other than hashish and marijuana become offenses in the third degree. This includes oxycontin, heroin, and ecstasy. These crimes carry fines up to $35,000 and jail time between 3-5 years. Every drug charge in New Jersey also levies a mandatory 6-month driver’s license suspension even if the crime in question did not happen in a vehicle.

Additional drug possession offenses in New Jersey include:

  • A controlled Schedule V substance is a fourth degree offense
  • Possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana is a fourth degree offense
  • Possession of 50 grams or less or marijuana is a disorderly persons offense

Possession of a Weapon During the Commission of a Controlled Dangerous Substance (CDS) Offense in NJ

When drugs and weapons occur in the same case, additional laws carry mandatory stipulations beyond the original charge. As an example, if a person was found to have possessed a firearm during the commission of a heroin distribution crime, that person could be charged with possession of a firearm while committing a drug crime, unlawful possession of a weapon, and heroin distribution. The sentences for each of these offenses do not merge.

If the accused party has already been charged with a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) offense, an additional charge under N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4.1 involves a person who has a weapon during a bias offense or drug crime. A weapon under this charge can include a rifle, shotgun, handgun, knife, or other item classified as a weapon.

This is a second degree crime if the person has a weapon during the commission of a crime, attempt of a crime, or the flight from a crime and if the conduct in question is deemed “manifestly appropriate.” If other elements of the crime are present but the facts of the crime with regard to time, place, actions, size and concealment of the weapon do not meet the grounds for what is classified as manifestly appropriate, the conviction becomes a third degree crime.

Common Drug Charges involving Weapons in Morris County NJ

There are several offenses that fall under the category of controlled dangerous substance charges, including:

  • Maintaining or operating a CDS production facility
  • Distributing drugs in a school zone
  • Leading a narcotics trafficking network

Due to the stiff mandatory ramifications in consecutive sentences charged when a person is accused of possession a firearm during the commission of a crime, a full investigation of the circumstances should be completed as soon as possible to determine whether each of the individual offenses is applicable.

The defenses and options available for a first-time drug offense might not be available if the person has been accused of a drug crime in association with possession of a weapon. For example, first-time drug offenses often present the opportunity to participate in the Pretrial Intervention Program and a possible expungement following conviction. When a gun or another weapon is involved in your case, this can significantly limit your options and ability to use them.

Need Help with Drugs and Guns Charges in Morristown?

The good news is, a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in Morris County and throughout New Jersey can assist you with the strategy to fight back against drug and weapons offenses in Morristown, Parsippany, Dover, Washington Township, Jefferson, Rockaway, Denville, and other local municipalities in the greater Morris County area. Potential defenses include errors in the chain of custody, invalid reports, and illegal search and seizure, among others. The first thing to do when arrested for a gun, drug possession, or another charge is to contact an experienced criminal lawyer who can evaluate your case to find the most effective defenses and other available options. Contact our attorneys now for more information. Consultations are free and provided around the clock, including nights and weekends.

If you have been arrested for or convicted of a crime or quasi-criminal offense in New Jersey, your criminal record may cause problems for you when you are applying for jobs, professional licenses, or even attempting to coach your child’s sports team.  Thankfully, New Jersey provides a way for you to remove the records of certain arrests or convictions, provided you meet a number of legal requirements and satisfy a waiting period following the date of your conviction.  The process of getting your records removed from the files of courts and law enforcement agencies is called expungement. Here, we answer many of the frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) about expungements in New Jersey. To talk to a lawyer who can assist with determining your eligibility and completing the process of getting your record expunged, contact us today.

Who Can Get an Expungement in NJ?

Expungement requirements can be different depending on the type of record, arrest, or conviction you want to eliminate. For instance, axpunging a disorderly persons offense or a municipal ordinance violation has a different set of requirements than does expunging an indictable offense, or felony crime. The following are some general guidelines to help you determine whether you might be eligible for expungement. You can contact an experienced NJ expungement lawyer at our Morristown criminal law office to learn more about whether expungement is an option for you.

How do I Expunge a Municipal Ordinance Violation in New Jersey?

It is easier to expunge a municipal ordinance violation than it is most other violations you may have on your permanent record. To expunge a municipal ordinance violation, you need to wait a minimum of two years following the date you were convicted, the date your fine was paid, or the date you completed any probationary period, whichever is later. You must never have been convicted of an indictable offense, and you must have two or fewer disorderly persons offenses or petty disorderly persons offenses on your criminal record in order for the two-year waiting period to apply.

What are the Requirements for Expunging a Disorderly Persons Offense in NJ?

If you wish to expunge a disorderly persons offense, you must normally wait for five years after the date of your conviction, termination of probation, or payment of your fine, whichever is later, before your offense can be expunged. You must not have been convicted of a felony-level charge for the 5-year waiting period to apply. Further, if you have been convicted of three or more disorderly persons offenses, the combined total of disorderly persons offense convictions may make you ineligible for expungement.

Does New Jersey Allow Expungement of a Felony?

If you want to expunge an indictable felony crime, the specific crime must be eligible for expungement in New Jersey. Many very serious crimes like perjury, terrorism, human trafficking, homicide, producing chemical weapons, engandering the welfare of a child sex crimes, robbery, false imprisonment, and some child pornography offenses are simply ineligible for expungement. If, however, the indictable offense you have been convicted of is eligible for expungement, you must wait until six years must have passed since your conviction, the date you paid your fine, and termination of your probation or parole, whichever is later, before applying for the expungment. And you must only have one felony conviction on your record. If you have been convicted of three or more disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense and a felony crime, you may be ineligible for expungement.

It is important to note that in certain cases, you may be able to complete the expungement process before you finish paying all of the fines applicable to your case. However, the rules that apply to fines are very specific and you should have your case examined by a lawyer if you haven’t finished paying fines yet.

Need Help Getting an Expungement in NJ? Contact us Now

If you want to know if you are eligible for an expungement or want help from an experienced New Jersey expungement attorney to expunge your criminal record, contact us now for a free consultation. Our attorneys have successfully handled thousands of expungements in NJ and we are here to help you.

DUI Checkpoint to be held in Morris Twp. This Evening

Arrested for DWI in Morris Twp.? Cases Prosecuted in Madison Joint Municipal Court

DWI Checkpoint Morris Township NJIf you are on the roads tonight in Morris Township you should keep an eye out for a DWI checkpoint being conducted by the Morris Township police department. The Morris Township police are conducting a sobriety checkpoint tonightat 9 p.m. at an undisclosed location in Morris Township. Police will be stopping vehicles to determine if any drivers are impaired based on the consumption of alcohol or drugs. DWI checkpoints are legal in New Jersey under State v. Moskal as long as certain criteria are met.

The police must show historical data that there are a number of DWI arrests in that area which justifies the need to conduct a DWI checkpoint. They also must provide notice to the public of the checkpoint being conducted. Tonight, they posted notice of the DWI checkpoint in the newspaper and online at the patch.com. In addition, there must be proper supervision by law enforcement. This typically means a sergeant, lieutenant or captain must be present to oversee the operation and to assist in any arrests, prosecutions. Also, the police officers must conduct the stops at random without using any bias such as race, gender, type of vehicle, etc. They typically do that by choosing every 3rd car for example for the random stop.

If you are stopped at a DWI checkpoint you should comply with the directions of law enforcement and provide your driving credentials (license, registration, insurance). If police suspect that you have been drinking, they will ask you to get out of the vehicle and perform field sobriety tests.

Typical signs of impairment include odor of alcohol in the vehicle or on your breath, slow or stuttered speech, failure to answer their questions properly, or open containers of alcohol in the motor vehicle. If you are asked to get out of the vehicle to perform field sobriety tests, you should do so.

Otherwise, they will place you under arrest for DWI and take you to the station to perform a breath test. The typical field sobriety tests that are conducted are the horizontal gaze nystagmus test (known as the “HGN”), the “walk and turn test”, and the “one leg stand test”. These are standardized tests that must be demonstrated for you and the proper instructions must be given by police in order for the tests to be valid.

If you fail the field sobriety tests, you will be arrested and taken to the Morris Township police station to provide samples of your breath on the Alcotest 7110 breath testing machine.

Charged with DWI in Morris Twp? Contact Us Now for Assistance

If you have been arrested for DWI in Morris Township and you need an attorney, we can help. These cases are prosecuted at the Madison Joint Municipal Court where Mr. Tormey has literally handled hundreds of cases over the years with great results. This experience and expertise allows him to fight these charges for you in court. Contact us now for a free initial consultation.

If you have been arrested or charged with possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) or unlawful possession of a weapon, you may be overwhelmed and confused. Often, it is difficult to understand why drivers and passengers in the same vehicle were charged with possession no matter where the illegal item was found. The state of New Jersey recognizes several different types of legal possession under the NJ Criminal Code. Understanding the differences between these types of legal possession can help you understand why you were charged with in the first place and what the state needs to prove to obtain a conviction.

Why Was I Charged with Possession in Morris County NJ?

Before explaining the different types of legal possession in New Jersey, it is important to note that there is a difference between possession and ownership. A person does not need to have any kind of ownership of an item or property in order to be in possession of it. Lack of ownership does not prevent you from being charged with any of the possession crime involving possession.

Types of Criminal Possession in New Jersey

Actual possession is the easiest type of possession to explain and understand. In these cases, you would have had to have actual possession of an illegal object on your physical person. Some of the common charges of actual possession include a firearm, BB gun, stolen property, underage possession of alcohol, fake identification (ID), or illegal drugs.

Constructive possession typically occurs when there are multiple people in a vehicle where an illegal substance or item is discovered by law enforcement. In cases of constructive possession, you do not need to be in actual possession of the illegal object, but rather the state must prove that you had knowledge that the item existed, understood what the item was, and had an ability to exert control over the item. In these cases, you can be charged with possession of drugs or an illegal item in your vehicle, even if it is not directly on your physical person at the time law enforcement discovered it.

Possession can also be divided into sole possession or joint possession. If charged with sole possession, one person alone has actual or constructive possession of an item. In joint possession, two or more persons know about, share information, or actual possession of an item. For example, if you are alone in a vehicle, and illegal drugs or a firearm is discovered, you will be considered to be in sole constructive possession of the item. If you are in a car with three other people, and drugs or a firearm is discovered by law enforcement, all of you can be charged with joint constructive possession. If one person actually has the item on their person, they may be charged with actual possession.

One final type of possession is called fleeting possession, which occurs when a person only has possession of an item for a very brief period of time. For example, if a customer provides a fraudulent 100-dollar bill to a shop owner, the shop owner will technically have possession of that illegal item. However, if the shop owner immediately returns it to the customer, then the possession will be considered a fleeting possession. If the owner is unaware that the item is fraudulent or takes step to contact the appropriate authorities after becoming aware of its existence, then the shop owner is unlikely to be charged with or convicted of a possession offense.

Arrested on Possession Charges, What am I Facing?

The penalties for possession are diverse and ultimately depend on what specifically was discovered by law enforcement, and possibly the quantity of the item or items as well. For example, the penalties for possession of illegal controlled dangerous substances (CDS) varies. More dangerous drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine have no medicinal value and a high rate of abuse and addiction. When it comes to possession charges, these drugs will have higher penalties than marijuana possession. Additionally, the amount of an illegal drug in your possession may affect the penalties imposed. If the item possessed is a gun or another weapon, consequences can be extremely severe and even lead to mandatory prison time.

Getting Help for Your Possession Case in Morristown

If you were arrested and charged with possession of CDS, gun possession, unlawful possession of a weapon, or other item in New Jersey, contact us now for answers regarding your charges. A seasoned criminal defense attorney in Morristown, NJ can help you understand your rights and your legal options. If you so choose, we are thoroughly prepared to defend you in court in Morris County or a local municipal court in Rockaway, Dover, Denville, Boonton, Roxbury, Parsippany, Florham Park, and surrounding communities.

If your loved one has been arrested in New Jersey, you are likely going through some intense emotions. Confusion, anger, disappointment, sadness, and a sense of being overwhelmed are all normal reactions to this type of news. In this confusing and often scary time, having more information will help you understand what is happening and ensure that you know what to do next. Having information will help you be a better resource and advocate for your loved one as well. Below are just a few things that you should know if your loved one has been arrested in New Jersey. For a free consultation about your case, contact us today.

Someone I Know was Arrested in NJ, What Should I Do?

1. Stay calm, and do not share any information.

When you get the call that a loved one has been arrested, it may be from a jail phone. These calls are monitored. It is important that you stay calm and get any information your loved one has about what has happened with the arrest. Remind your loved one not to say anything that they should not over the phone. Ask about the charges and where they are being held, but do not discuss the matter much further.

2. Remind your loved one of their rights.

While you are discussing the facts of what is happening, it is a good idea to remind your loved one of their rights under New Jersey and federal law. He or she may not be thinking clearly enough to recall how they should assert those rights.

Declining to talk to anyone and immediately asking for a lawyer is always a good idea. Remind your loved one that they should do this if they haven’t already. It may not feel like they have much control over the situation, but their civil rights are a concrete and cannot be violated. How they can protect their own interests and their innocence should be at the forefront of their thinking.

3. Get the details on the case

It is a good idea to get more information about what is going on from someone else other than your loved one. Your loved one is likely feeling uncertain and frightened, just like you. Law enforcement may make this worse in an effort to get them to confess, make a statement, or cooperate in some way. Remember, police are on the side of the prosecutor, not the person arrested. You and your loved one should always be respectful to avoid further issues or an escalated situation with officers, but keeping in mind that police always want to make their case is important. In some cases, the police may also talk to you about what is going on.

If your loved one was driving a car when the incident occurred, you will need information about where the car has been towed, where it is stored, and how to get it. Under certain circumstances, the state will seize the vehicle indefinitely. However, this usually applies in cases in which the vehicle is connected with criminal activity or considered proceeds from a drug crime.

4. Prepare for the initial hearings.

Depending on the degree of the charges, your loved one may have a detention (bail) hearing within 48 hours of being booked in New Jersey. This generally occurs in cases involving felony charges or disorderly persons charges for domestic violence, such as simple assault. Not every person is detained pending a bail hearing and some will be released after processing. It is important to find out if and when your loved one is to be released or to appear before a judge. If they are being held and will have a detention hearing, it is critical to ascertain when this hearing will occur so you can attend and hire an attorney. The outcome of this hearing can mean that your loved one is released, released on certain conditions, or kept in jail until the resolution of their case. With this in mind, it is imperative to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can handle the complexities of the proceeding and argue for their release. Acting quickly to get an attorney lined up to participate can be very beneficial for your loved one.

Need a Lawyer for Loved One’s Criminal Case in Morris County, NJ

Our criminal defense attorneys in Morris County understand how overwhelming having a loved one charged with a crime can be, and we want to help. Taking action is the best thing you can do when your child, boyfriend or girlfriend, spouse, friend, or family member has been arrested in New Jersey. Contact our skilled team of criminal defense attorneys as soon as you can. We know criminal law inside and out and we can explain the charges, penalties, process, and get involved immediately.

Police Can Search Your Vehicle in NJ: Here’s Why

Affected after a search of my car in Morristown NJ lawyer near me

Every person in New Jersey should be able to be secure in their vehicle, meaning that your car is protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. This is not a blanket protection, however. Instead, it is limited so that police officers can search your car ONLY IF they have a warrant, if they have a reasonable suspicion that your vehicle contains evidence of a crime, or if they suspect there is a threat to the officer’s safety in the vehicle. Protections are actually even more expansive in New Jersey than the federal constitution, which is often very beneficial for New Jersey citizens and visitors. Nevertheless, like all rights, they are qualified if safety or illegal activity are concerns. For example, if an officer suspects that your car contains drugs like marijuana, cocaine, heroin, or prescription medications, they may use the sheer smell of weed or other probable cause to justify searching it. Similarly, if it appears that a firearm or another weapon is inside, this would be considered valid reason for conducting a search. Here are the rules on vehicle searches in New Jersey. If you have been arrested following a search of your car, contact us today to discuss your defense.

Can Police Search my Car in New Jersey?

Yes, police can search your vehicle, even without a warrant, under certain circumstances. In general, the 4th Amendment requires a warrant for searches and seizures. However, the “automobile exception,” is an exception to this requirement. Also referred to as the “motor vehicle exception,” an officer can search your vehicle if he or she has reason to believe that the car contains some evidence of illegal activity. It is important to note that this suspicion must reasonable and based on real circumstances—it cannot be based on just a feeling or preexisting belief held by the officer.

Another exception that comes up often is the ability to search a car after a person has been arrested. Generally speaking, an officer can search a vehicle after arresting someone. This search is called a “search incident to arrest.” It encompasses all containers found within the car, including, for example, jacket pockets. Usually, the same facts that give rise to the arrest will also provide the officer with a reason to search the vehicle. However, being arrested does not mean that officers have unlimited power to search anything they wish.

What if I’m being Arrested, Is Searching a Vehicle Allowed in NJ?

In State v. Pierce, two individuals were in the vehicle. They were pulled over for routine traffic stop. The officer realized that the person driving was driving with a suspended license. He arrested her immediately and placed her in his squad car. He then proceeded to search the vehicle. The officer’s search revealed a large hunting knife, a loaded gun, and a trace amount of cocaine. They were both charged with weapons and drug offenses.

New Jersey is one of many states that permits officers to arrest individuals who violate traffic laws. As a result, the Court found that the officer had committed no error in making the arrest and detaining the individuals. The focus of their analysis was on the search of the car after the arrest was made.

The automobile exception allows officers to search vehicles when they have probable cause. Because an officer also has to have probable cause to make an arrest, the same reasons that the arrest occurred often allow the officer to search a vehicle as well. That means that an officer cannot automatically conduct a search after any arrest—but the officer must expect to find some type of illegal contraband in the car. They can also search the vehicle (or portions of the car) when there is a potential threat to their safety.

In Pierce’s case, the individual was arrested for operating a vehicle without a license. There really would not be any evidence of this crime that could be found in the car because the only action associated with this illegal activity is actually driving the car. The same could be said for any other type of traffic violation. Based on that analysis, the Court found that the police cannot search a vehicle unless they have probable cause to find contraband, or there is a threat to the officer’s safety. However, the officer can search the individual who was arrested (clothing, shoes, etc.).

Arrested after a Car Search in Morris County, What Should I do?

If you suspect you or a loved one has been through an unlawful search, you should consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer to discuss the issue further. Searches must meet strict requirements to be valid in New Jersey. Learn more about your rights by contacting our experienced Morristown criminal defense attorneys today.

Bail Court Appearances in Morristown NJ

Bail Hearing Morris County NJ top lawyersWhen you are arrested and accused of a crime, the State of New Jersey cannot always hold you while you await trial. Instead, the State must prove that you should be detained while your case progresses. This additional step helps keep people out of jail and decreases the strain on New Jersey’s jail system. Determining whether you should be detained takes place at a detention hearing.

Only those who are the subject of a warrant on indictment, are charged with an indictable offense, or charged with a disorderly persons offense involving domestic violence can be detained under New Jersey law. However, even if you meet one or more of these qualifications, the State must also prove some additional facts at a detention hearing in order for you to be held in jail until your case is resolved. If you have been arrested and have an upcoming court appearance for bail in Morris County, New Jersey, you need to know what happens next. Continue reading for more information about detention hearings in Morristown and contact an experienced Morris County criminal defense attorney to discuss your case.

The Purpose of Detention Hearings in New Jersey

Detention hearings are are now used instead of automatically requiring that a defendant post bail to stay out of jail. By getting rid of monetary bail requirements, the New Jersey court system no longer rewards people who can pay for their bail, but who also might be dangerous or more likely to not appear at later hearings. It also allows people who cannot afford bail to be released if detaining them is not appropriate.

Applying new rules to the process of detention hearings was part of a huge change to NJ law that occurred in 2014, which involved a constitutional amendment that is commonly referred to as New Jersey Bail Reform. Despite the changes in the NJ bail system, there are still some cases where bail is ordered.

What Occurs at a Bail Hearing in Morristown?

A detention hearing is forum to present evidence, which is then used by a judge to decide if a criminal defendant should be detained while he or she awaits trial. Both the prosecution and the defense are allowed to present evidence and arguments as to why a defendant should or should not be detained.

Typically, person charged with a criminal offense will be released on a summons and given a court date for their first appearance. However, defendants who fulfill the criteria listed above must be held and appear before a judge before being released. This is usually their first appearance. Notably, a detention hearing will only held if a prosecutor requests it with a “motion for detention.” This motion will generally be submitted prior to the defendant’s first appearance and the hearing must take place within three days of the prosecutor’s request (unless a continuance is warranted under certain limited circumstances).

How Does a Judge Make a Bail Decision in NJ?

The judge at a detention hearing is faced with the following determination: whether a defendant is likely to fail to appear at later hearings or trial, to threaten public safety, or to otherwise obstruct the criminal justice process. As part of this analysis, the judge will consider all of the evidence presented by both sides. They will also consider the result of a Public Safety Assessment (“PSA”) and a Decision Making Framework (“DMF”), both of which are designed to provide more consistent decisions from judges regarding whether to detain a criminal defendant.

The PSA will depend on the unique facts of the case, such as the charges involved, whether the defendant has any prior convictions, whether he or she has had any other instances in which they failed to appear, and the age of the defendant. If the charge is for a violent crime, for example, detention is more likely to be warranted based on the PSA and DMF.

Every case is different, but the judge will review very specific factors to determine whether detention is a good idea. If the judge decides that detention is appropriate, then the defendant will remain in jail until their trial, they take a plea, their case is dismissed in pre-trial motions, or the case is otherwise resolved through enrollment in a diversionary program or another alternative outcome.

Do I Need a Lawyer to get out on Bail in Morris County?

If you or a loved one has a detention hearing scheduled in Morris County, NJ, you need to arrange for competent legal representation at court and throughout this process. Bail determinations are very difficult to change once they have been made, which is why you need the best defense during your detention hearing. Our seasoned criminal defense lawyers in Morristown have successfully assisted clients at detention hearings in Morris County and across New Jersey. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one today.

Attacking Inadmissible Evidence in NJ Criminal Cases

When an officer arrests you in New Jersey, he or she must have evidence to support the arrest. Then, that evidence may be presented in an effort to convict you of the crime charged. As you might expect, the prosecution relies heavily on the evidence that police gather during the course of an investigation and resulting arrest. The evidence obtained and documented often allows law enforcement offices to make an arrest in the first place, and further creates the grounds for the charges.

For example, imagine the police search you and find that you have cocaine in your pocket. The fact that they found the cocaine is primary reason that you were charged with possessing an illegal substance. If that evidence, finding the cocaine, cannot be presented to a jury, then the State will likely have a very hard time showing that you had cocaine in your pocket. As you can imagine, the absence of key evidence like cocaine in a drug possession or intent to distribute case can quickly lead to an outright dismissal. This is why identifying evidence that can be excluded is so important to the success of your criminal case.

What Evidence Can be Suppressed?

Evidence that can be excluded is known as “inadmissible.” Evidence is inadmissible if it has been acquired unlawfully. If the police did not obtain evidence in a way that protects your rights as a citizen in New Jersey, then the evidence cannot be admissible in court. A motion to suppress is used to accomplish the suppression of inadmissible evidence. It is designed to keep specific types of evidence from being used against you.

The most common reason that a suppression motion is used is to stop evidence from coming in when it was the result of an illegal arrest, search, or seizure. However, things like coerced confessions and situations where you involuntarily give up your rights can sometimes be part of suppression motion as well. When a suppression motion is successful, the judge will prevent the evidence or information obtained from that evidence from being presented to a jury.

How do You get Evidence Thrown out of Court?

When your attorney discovers that your rights were violated in the course of a search or arrest, after which certain evidence was obtained, he or she will file a Motion to Suppress evidence. The motion will set out the particular evidence that should be excluded and why it should be omitted based on New Jersey criminal procedure laws.

Because suppression hearings occur most often in the context of searches, we will use that as an example to provide you with a better understanding of how it works. Every search that does not have a warrant is invalid unless it falls under some exception to the warrant requirement under New Jersey law. In a suppression hearing on a warrantless search, the State has the burden to show that the search falls under some type of exception to the rule that a search can only be conducted after obtaining a warrant.

If your attorney can show that police conducted the search without having one of the exceptions to the warrant requirement, then the judge may deem any evidence obtained during the search “fruit of the poisonous tree,” and thus, unusable when making the case against you. Often, this is because officers conducted a search without probable cause that a crime was being committed, was going to be committed, or that there was evidence of a crime in the location where they searched.

How a Criminal Defense Lawyer can Help with Your Case in Morris County

A suppression hearing can be very helpful to your case. In some situations, it can force the State to drop the charges against you entirely because they do not have the evidence they need to convict you. However, successfully using a motion to get evidence excluded is a highly complex and challenging process, best left to an experienced NJ criminal defense attorney. A top-quality lawyer will know how to gather and present this information to position you for the best possible result. Learn more about how our skilled Morristown criminal defense lawyers may be able to use this defense to beat the charges you’re facing by contacting us today.

Being indicted in Morris County NJ defense lawyers near meThe term “indictment” is another word for a formal charge or accusation of a crime. Only certain types of crimes in New Jersey are considered indictable offenses. These are much more serious allegations when compared with disorderly persons charges.  Before an indictment, however, a complaint will be issued from a law enforcement officer or a citizen. The complaint will set out the reasons for the charges, including some general factual allegations. If the claim is serious, the complaint will be steered toward indictment procedures, which only occur in Superior Court. In other words, if you are charged with an indictable crime in Morris County, your case will proceed per the indictment process in the Morris County Superior Court in Morristown, NJ. Here is a basic outline of the steps involved when you are facing indictable (felony) criminal charges in New Jersey.

Facing an Indictment in Morris County, New Jersey

The First Appearance

Regardless of whether the charge is considered an indictable offense or a disorderly persons offense, you will first be required to appear in court before a judge, either in municipal court (for disorderly persons offenses) or Superior Court (for indictable offenses). If you have been charged with an indictable crime and are being held in jail, the appearance occurs within 48 hours of being remitted to county jail. Your first appearance for indictable charges is known as a detention hearing, at which time a judge will consider whether you can be released or will be required to be detained while you wait for your trial.

Pre-Indictment Matters

Once the complaint has been filed and you have been through the first appearance, the prosecutor will decide whether he or she will pursue the case any further at the Superior Court level. This process requires looking at the evidence that they have and determining whether the information they have gathered is enough to find that a crime took place. If the evidence is insufficient, the case will either be “downgraded” to a disorderly persons offense and remanded (sent down) to Municipal Court, or it will be dismissed. There are other options to divert a case to avoid an indictment as well.

The Indictment Process in New Jersey

If a case needs to move forward through the indictment process, then the prosecutor will present the case to the grand jury. A grand jury is made up of a panel of citizens. These citizens will determine if the evidence that a prosecutor has is enough to formally charge the defendant and require him or her to respond to the charges. If a majority of the panel of 23 people find that there is enough evidence, then a “true bill” will trigger additional proceedings in the Criminal Division of the Superior Court. If there is not enough evidence, then the grand jury will dismiss the charges outright. If the charges are dismissed, the defendant may never have to appear in court following the first appearance. However, the prosecutor can also choose to downgrade the charge to a disorderly persons offense at that time as well.

It is important to note that the defendant is not involved in the indictment process. Instead, the prosecutor is the only attorney or individual who can present evidence and information. It is also held in private, and the proceedings are kept from the defendant in their entirety.

Defense for Indictment in Morris County, NJ

An indictment does not mean that a person is guilty of a crime—it is not a conviction. Instead, it is just the first step in the process. The standards are lower to indict than they are to convict. Many more cases will go through an indictment than those that ultimately result in the defendant being convicted. Even if you have already been indicted, you still have options to present a compelling defense—and you should! Our Morris County indictment defense attorneys can help. Learn more by contacting our team today.