If you drive drunk, you do not want to get stopped by law enforcement on federal property. You will most likely end up in federal court rather than the local municipal court for a traffic offense. That could be bad news for you. Once you are in the federal criminal system, you could be up against notoriously tough prosecutors and laws. For that reason, a criminal defense attorney with extensive federal court experience is a must when you have been charged with a crime on federal property in New Jersey. You need a strong advocate who knows how to deal with stringent laws and prosecutors who have the upper hand, someone who is familiar with both state and federal laws, rules, and systems.

The state and federal systems overlap in some areas, for instance, when a state law is violated on federal property. As a defendant charged with a state law violation, you will probably be tried in federal court using either state or federal law and federal rules and procedures. Because federal law is more stringent, you may need to present strong evidence to challenge the charges and be acquitted of the crime. Fines are typically higher in federal court too, compared to state court, and federal prison sentences are longer and harsher than state sentences.

Why are Charges Worse when on Federal Land in NJ?

One reason the punishment is tougher for crimes committed on federal property may be that federal lands contain dangerous or protected items that would cause harm to the federal government if trespassed, such as buildings that contain confidential files or dangerous chemicals sitting in underground storage. Drunk driving on federal property constitutes just such a threat to federal property, but other crimes too, like trespassing, vandalism, and reckless driving. Likewise, crimes committed on military forts and bases, government buildings or parking lots, national parks and forests, airports and courthouses lead to federal charges, whether the crime is a state violation or a specific federal law violation, and the stricter penalties reflect the necessity to protect federal property. However, any crime that can be committed on state property can be committed on federal property, like theft, lewdness, obstruction of law, criminal mischief, terroristic threats, drug distribution or possession, or DWI/DUI for operating a motor vehicle or vessel while under the influence.

Charged with DWI on Federal Property in New Jersey

When an officer stops you for drunk driving on federal property, such as at a federal park, in a national forest, or on a military base, like McGuire Air Force Base, you may be charged under federal laws for breaking state laws against offenses like DUI. Since there is no drunk driving federal law, the state law is “assimilated,” by the Federal Assimilative Crimes Act, or made part of the federal law, and you are charged for a federal crime. So, what would have been a traffic infraction on non-federal property is an offense on federal property, with a harsher sentence.

For example, if you were caught driving while intoxicated in a national park, such as Sandy Hook National Park, or a military base like McGuire Air Force Base, or another eligible location such as Picatinny Arsenal, you may be subject to federal prosecution as opposed to typical state prosecution. If the offense does not exist explicitly according to existing federal law, the case will be determined by state law as assimilated into federal law. A DUI in a national park may lead to a sentence of six months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.00. In contrast, state sentences typically do not include jail time for first DWI offenses but could result in up to 30 days in county jail, just to lend some perspective on how severe federal sentences are compared to state sentences. And if your DUI occurred on a military base, you may face additional military charges on top of the federal and state charges. It makes a difference whether federal or state law determines your outcome.

Laws Governing Federal Crimes in NJ

The laws that govern federal cases are United States Code and the Code of Federal Regulations, which define federal crimes. Federal Agencies, however, have their own sets of laws that define certain crimes. The Justice Department, for instance, handles federal cases, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigate crimes committed on federal property or any federal crime. The United States Attorney’s office prosecutes federal crimes, following the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and the Federal Rules of Evidence. Federal crimes are not limited to agency rules and laws, however. They are also those committed on specific places designated as U.S. territories or on certain bodies of water, like the Great Lakes, or airspace over the high seas, or any other places outside national borders or pertaining to aircraft, like crimes in an airplane flying over U.S. territory.

Who Hears Federal Cases when they Happen in Morris County?

Federal cases are heard by federal judges or magistrates of the United States District Courts. However, the U.S. military handles court martials in military courts. Magistrates handle petty offenses, those with maximum fines of $5,000.00 and a maximum prison sentence of six months, though they may have federal misdemeanors delegated to them from federal judges with the defendant’s consent. Federal misdemeanors carry prison sentences up to a year and fines of up to $250,000.00, and magistrates preside over petty offenses or misdemeanor cases in various locations, not just where federal judges in Trenton, Camden, and Newark usually hear cases.

Common Criminal & DUI Offenses on Federal Property

You may be charged and prosecuted in New Jersey after a specific federal department has gathered evidence. The federal law enforcement departments at Fort Dix, Fort Monmouth, Gateway National Recreation Area at Sandy Hook and Fort Hancock, and the United States Park Service, Picatinny Arsenal, Naval Weapons Station Earle, and Lakehurst Naval Air Station may be the source of the criminal complaint against you, depending upon where you were caught committing a crime on federal property. Essentially, DWI/DUI, refusal charges, traffic offenses, and other state criminal charges, become federal crimes just by where they are committed. And Title 18, section 13 of the U.S. Code covers crimes occurring within a state but on federal property. As previously mentioned, the laws of the state crimes and their interpretations are used in these cases.

Federal courts typically handle federal crimes, like drug, immigration, fraud, trafficking, money laundering, weapons, conspiracy, kidnapping across state lines, bank robbery crimes, organized crime (RICO statutes), white collar crimes, as well as those committed against federal employees or on federal property. Crimes on government property, such as bank fraud, bank robbery, conspiracy cases, counterfeiting, bribery of public official, computer crimes, Homeland Security Offenses, offenses related to interstate commerce, violent crimes, internet crimes, interstate crimes, pornography, and drug smuggling are prosecuted as federal crimes. When sentencing a defendant for any of these and other federal and state crimes, judges and prosecutors consider the nature of the offense, circumstances of the offense, criminal history, deterrence, respect for the law, public protection, rehabilitation of the defendant, sentence guidelines, and judicial consistency.

Consult a Defense Lawyer in Morristown if You Have been Arrested on Federal Lands

Whether you have allegedly committed a state or federal crime on federal property, you are going to need a good attorney to show that your history and good standing as a citizen, as well as your respect for the law, qualifies you for a lighter sentence, at the very least. The federal government is better resourced than state courts, so prosecutors can take cases to trial rather than plea bargain. In addition, the rules of procedure in federal court are skewed toward the prosecution with bail and pre-trial release much more difficult than in state court. Federal prosecutors are not as overworked so they can spend more time and be tougher on your case, so enlisting help from a highly skilled NJ federal court defense attorney to assist you with your case is absolutely advisable. A knowledgeable federal charge lawyer can often ensure that you are dealt with fairly in federal court and possibly prove to the prosecutor and judge that you did not commit the crime charged or deserve a lighter sentence. And if the circumstances call for negotiation with the prosecution, your attorney can help you negotiate a plea bargain to avoid trial and the worst case scenario. Receive a free consultation by contacting us today.

Charged with Eluding Police in Morris County?

If you have ever been pulled over, you know that feeling. Your stomach sinks as you glance in the rearview mirror blasted with blue and red flashing lights, probably followed by a siren if you have not noticed the lights soon enough. Maybe you know what you did, but maybe you do not. Either way, if you do not pull over when a police officer commands you to by their lights, siren, or other clear signals, you could be breaking the law. Eluding the police can be charged as a third degree crime in New Jersey, but it can also be charged as a second degree crime depending on the circumstances. The severity of the risk posed to others and the intention of the person eluding the police determines how the crime is charged. The range subsumed under the eluding statute covers anything from a delayed reaction, to pulling over when police signal you to do so, to a high-speed car chase. Whether you are charged for a third or second degree crime, you are looking at significant fines and prison terms. And yet, it is not uncommon to fall into the trap of committing the crime of eluding an officer and violating N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2, over a simple mistake or panic reaction.

Need a Top Morristown Lawyer for Eluding Charges

Given how easy it is to commit this crime, knowingly or unknowingly, and the seriousness of the consequences, you should not hesitate about getting the best legal advice and representation for your eluding charges. A talented defense lawyer can convince the prosecuting attorney and the judge that your intentions were not to escape the police, which helps to lessen the charge, prison time and fees, or get the case dismissed completely in some cases. If possible, you want to avoid a criminal record, which is an unfortunate consequence of conviction. Contact our New Jersey eluding lawyer if you need help defending an eluding case in Morris County, NJ, including in Morristown, Parsippany, Boonton, Rockaway, East Hanover, Roxbury, and Mount Olive. Here is some crucial information that you need to know if you are facing eluding charges in New Jersey.

Meaning of Eluding in New Jersey

The core of the offense of eluding police is not stopping when signaled to stop by a law enforcement officer. N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2 is the eluding statute that describes how you can be guilty of this crime. You commit a fourth degree crime when you try to evade an arrest. However, it is a third degree crime to flee an officer while operating a vehicle on the roadways or a vessel on the waterways when the officer clearly indicates they want you to stop, say, by a siren, lights, announcement, wave of the arm, or any combination of those. Further, it is a second degree crime if the escape from arrest creates a safety risk for others.

How much time do you get for Eluding an Officer in NJ?

If you are arrested for driving on any road in the state of New Jersey and do not stop, you may be charged with a third degree crime and face three (3) to five (5) years in prison and up to $15,000.00 in fines. If you kept driving on a major highway going 50 to 65 miles an hour after a police car behind you turned on their lights, risking injury to the officer or anyone else, you may be charged with second degree eluding the police. And if the police must get you to stop by pulling alongside your car, commanding you to pull over by megaphone or loudspeaker, even trying to force you to the side of the road, your eluding arrest arguably distracts other drivers on the road and so, risks the police officer’s life as well as others’. If convicted of a second degree crime, you face five (5) to ten (10) years in prison and up to $150,000.00 in fines.

In addition, your license will be suspended or revoked for six months to two years for eluding the police. A driver under the age of 18 may likewise have their license suspended, revoked, or delayed (if they have no license) pending the completion of the suspension or delay period.

What if You Didn’t Know You Failed to Stop when Signaled by an Officer?

You may not even have even understood that the police were trying to pull you over, as you did not think you committed any infractions. For example, you may be driving with your friend, enjoying a conversation, but not realizing that you passed a sign that prohibits making a left turn at the light. After making the forbidden left turn, you see a police car with flashing lights, so you slowly move over to the right but keep the car going in slow motion until the police car passes. Much to your surprise, the police car pulls up to your side angrily shouting at you to pull over and stop the car. You may be suspected and charged with eluding the police, even without the notorious high-speed chase. It is also not uncommon for some people, especially the elderly, to be confused and panicked when they see the lights and sirens behind them, and they simply do not react properly or in time to pull over and stop their car.

Defending N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2 Eluding Charges

No doubt, evading police is serious, but an experienced criminal defense attorney can examine the evidence against you and cast doubt on some of the elements the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to convict you of this crime or any of its related crimes. For example, if you did not intend to elude the police but were confused or mistaken as to whether the police were signaling you to stop, you may not be guilty of eluding. In addition, the police may not have clearly signaled for you to pull over, turning on their lights only after you were out of range.

Since intent and risk of harm are key components to the crime of eluding, your attorney can convince the prosecuting attorney that the facts show you did not intend to elude the police; for example, you failed to stop because you were confused, mistaken, or panicked, and no one was harmed. As such, they may be able to convince the prosecuting attorney to lower the charges from a second degree to a third or fourth degree charge or even a disorderly persons offense, if not outright dismissing the charges by showing the prosecutor or the court the weaknesses of the case. The prosecutor must convince a jury that beyond a reasonable doubt you intended to commit the charged crime. It is a tough burden of proof and the case should be challenged at every turn.

Your attorney can also help you apply for the first-time offender’s diversionary program, the Pre-Trial Intervention Program if the charges are reduced from a second degree to a third or fourth degree crime, so that you may avoid a conviction on your record after completing it. Finally, your attorney may also be successful in securing a plea bargain to lesser charges in exchange for your guilty plea.

Dedicated NJ Defense Attorneys for Eluding Charges

Since the stakes are extremely high, be sure to find a top criminal lawyer to defend you. Contact us for a free consultation.

Crimes in New Jersey are predominantly defined by the surrounding circumstances of an alleged act. Thus, it is no different for crimes involving theft. Crimes of “taking” in New Jersey are delineated as theft, robbery, shoplifting, embezzlement, theft by deception, receiving stolen property and more. Each offense has qualifying elements that define the respective crime. These offenses in New Jersey are often referred to as intent crimes. The physical act itself, the mental act (or intent), causation and the concurrence between the physical and mental act, are what the State uses to prove a crime. Here, intent means that a defendant engaged in an act to derive a certain result. Intent is considered an element of theft offenses, as well as other offenses violating the NJ Criminal Statutes. The Model Penal Code looks to four distinct ways to determine the mental state to meet this element of a crime. The State of New Jersey also follows similar means to prove the requisite intent to commit a crime. Overall, if the State cannot prove intent, then the crime cannot be proven.

One may ask, how can the State prove what someone else thinks or intends to do? This is considered one’s state of mind to commit a crime, or mens rea. Mens rea can be proven through the State showing a defendant acted purposefully through a conscious act. It can also be proven that the defendant acted knowingly, meaning that he or she was aware one’s conduct would lead to a certain result. It can similarly be proven that a defendant acted recklessly, meaning that he or she consciously disregarded a risk, or negligently, meaning that he or she ignored the risk that a crime would result from one’s actions. This means in order to be proven guilty of one of these offenses, he or she must meet this element of intent, in addition to the other elements involved in the crime. Intent can easily be understood when someone commits identity theft. For cases of identity theft, a defendant uses someone else’s identification with the intent to obtain a benefit of doing so whether it is a financial benefit or something else.

What are the most common theft, or taking, offenses in New Jersey? Theft by unlawful taking, shoplifting, and robbery are generally the most common taking offenses.

What is the difference between theft and robbery?

  • Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3, theft is the unlawful taking, or exercise of control over movable property of another with the purpose to deprive its owner of the property. Theft can also be defined as unlawfully transferring immovable property with purpose to benefit oneself or another.
  • Robbery, according to N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1, is when someone commits theft but in the process of doing so either: inflicts bodily injury, threatens another with immediate bodily injury or threatens to commit a crime of the first or second degree. One may be found guilty of robbery “in the course of” committing theft, which means that it arises in the attempt or in immediate flight after the attempt or commission of the theft.

The premise of robbery and theft is, in fact, fundamentally the same, as both require there being intent to deprive an actual owner of his or her property. The true difference between the two, however, is the threat of force involved. Essentially, robbery adds an additional component or layer to theft. Overall, they are each classified as intent crimes that deprive the owner of his or her property.

Theft offenses are classified as second, third or fourth degree felonies when the amount of the property involved exceeds specific values. In addition, the amount of property valued at $200 or less would be classified as a disorderly persons offense. On the other hand, robbery is a first or second degree crime. Thus, a defendant faces serious prison time and hefty fines with that serious of a crime at hand.

What is the difference between shoplifting and robbery?

The difference between robbery and shoplifting is that shoplifting occurs in a retail establishment, whereas robbery can occur anywhere. Shoplifting is also broad in what conduct is defined as such and is usually the taking or concealment of an item in a store or similar retail establishment. Oppositely, robbery poses a physical threat to another denoting the severity of the crime by being a second or first degree offense. An indictable conviction for a shoplifting charge can range from either a second to a fourth degree crime. In addition, shoplifting offenses can also be classified as disorderly persons offenses. When it comes to shoplifting crimes, using force to resist being taken into custody or detainment can lead to robbery charges through the creation of physical bodily harm. Ultimately, the line can quickly and easily become blurred whether a defendant’s action is a shoplifting or robbery offense under the law.

Get Help with Your Theft Charge in Morristown and Morris County NJ

Theft offenses come with strong penalties that can alter your life significantly. Contact an attorney for help today to start building a strong defense strategy for your theft charges in Morristown and throughout Morris County, NJ. Remember robbery, shoplifting, motor vehicle theft, credit card theft and fraud, and similar charges can lead to serious fines, penalties and prison time so it is important to speak with a lawyer regarding your individual case. You can reach out anytime for a free legal consultation.

Relationships can turn sour quickly or slowly over time. Financial hardship, children, and differing philosophies regarding money and childrearing can tear down many short and long-term marriages. Substance abuse can also wear a relationship down. Spouses feel trapped, degraded, unwanted, and alone, often reacting in desperate ways to stay or leave the relationship, especially when one party files for divorce and the other resists the possibility of losing the life they know. Sometimes arguments escalate and violence occurs, a slap, a kick, a thrown object, or a brandished weapon. It may be the first time, or it may be one violent fight in a growing number of them. Once the police are called, however, you may be the subject of a restraining order. People in families, dating relationships, marriages, current or former shared living situations, and many others seek protection and face protection orders against them in New Jersey. If either of these applies to you, one of the most important things to know about is the available defenses and challenges that can be used in a restraining order case.

Temporary restraining orders are issued by a judge after a victim of one or more crimes enumerated in The Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (the Act) appears before a judge, either by telephone or in person, and tells the judge what violence occurred. If the judge finds the victim, who is over 18 and in an intimate relationship with the abuser (spouse, ex-spouse, date, partner or parent of mutual children), suffered domestic violence and needs protection from further violence, the judge orders the temporary restraining order. If the judge finds the victim unbelievable or not a victim of one of the crimes listed in the Act, the restraining order is not granted. Typically, temporary restraining orders are granted.

Ten days after, a hearing to turn the temporary restraining order into a permanent order occurs.  At that hearing, you have an opportunity to challenge the victim’s portrayal of the facts and relationship to avoid the temporary order becoming permanent. To approve a final restraining order, the judge must find a predicate act of domestic violence occurred, meaning one of the 19 crimes listed in the Act, such as assault, harassment, stalking or lewd conduct, for example, that a history of such violence exists, and that the victim needs protection.

Ways to Challenge a Restraining Order in NJ

To overcome the necessary elements for a permanent protection order in New Jersey, an experienced restraining order defense attorney can help you defeat the plaintiff’s story and credibility. Your counsel may present evidence to show that a predicate act of domestic violence did not occur. Without evidence of physical injury through medical reports, photos, or other convincing evidence, a plaintiff may not be able to convince a judge by a preponderance of the evidence that a history of domestic violence exists between the parties. If the only evidence is plaintiff’s testimony of physical injury, harassment, stalking, or other predicate act, an important element of proving their case is a mere contest of each party’s word against the other’s. In that case, cross-examination of witnesses is critical, showing the plaintiff or other witness is not credible. Defenses may involve the alleged victim’s inconsistent assertions, faulty memory, or clear bias, to name a few strategies that place a witness’s testimony in question.

By attacking the credibility of plaintiff and their witnesses, your attorney can create questions in the judge’s mind about the other element, that the plaintiff is in danger from the defendant and needs protection from the court. To further place doubt, a good lawyer can show that no evidence exists to show prior domestic violence between the parties, and there are no police reports or prior domestic violence filings with the court. After creating doubt, you can clear the way to show ulterior motives. Not only may your attorney show that the violence that the plaintiff claims occurred did not rise to the required level of domestic violence or that the plaintiff is not reasonably afraid of future violence because the accused abuser is not a threat, but may also show the domestic violence complaint was filed to derail a divorce proceeding or to win custody of the children.

New Jersey Permanent Protection Order Consequences without the Proper Defense

If a final restraining order is granted, the judge may order the defendant to stay away from the plaintiff and their household or employer, to turn over any weapons the defendant possesses, to leave the residence where the plaintiff resides, to support the plaintiff and children, if applicable, to submit to a risk assessment before visiting with children, and to attend domestic violence counseling, among other necessary orders the judge sees fit under the circumstances. Some are required orders regardless of the case. For example, the defendant will be ordered not to possess weapons, barring their ability to have a firearms purchaser identification card, which is necessary to purchase firearms in New Jersey. Restraining orders are permanent, ending only when a court terminates the order upon a clear showing that the order is no longer needed. All provisions contained in the order are active while the restraining order is in effect.

Defense Lawyer Help with a Morris County Restraining Order Case

Given the high stakes of a permanent restraining order, you probably want to retain the most experienced defense attorney to challenge the plaintiff’s claims. Since a final restraining order often means limited contact with your children, being cut off from the family life you once enjoyed, never owning a weapon, and living under the threat of prosecution for violating the restraining order, you want to make sure your lawyer knows what to do to challenge the plaintiff’s side of the story, present your side persuasively, and advocate for your rights, including visiting with your children and retrieving your possessions. Contact a New Jersey restraining order defense lawyer who often defends clients in Morris County for dedicated guidance and representation now.

Someone Pressed Charges in Morris County NJ?

When we hear about someone pressing charges against another who committed a crime, typically in movies or on television shows, we usually think of a person going to the police department or calling the police to a site and filing a complaint or registering a report. Typically, the police do take a report or investigate a crime and file a criminal complaint accusing someone of a crime or crimes, but either the police or the victim can file a criminal complaint. Then, it is the city, state or federal prosecuting attorneys who ultimately decide if a case goes forward or is dismissed.

What does it mean when a person presses charges in New Jersey?

Pressing charges against someone means making a formal accusation, which is decided in a court of law. It may start with an arrest at a crime scene if the police have probable cause to arrest someone for a crime, meaning evidence exists that a crime occurred and that the defendant committed the crime. Probable cause to arrest must be based on sufficient evidence, such as medical reports showing the victim’s injuries or police reports documenting property destruction, any video or audio evidence of the crime, or witness testimony that support the victim’s facts of the crime. A criminal complaint may be filed by the police or victim after arrest. Alternatively, the arrest may follow the filing of a criminal complaint when an arrest warrant is issued from the court.

Where does a case go when charges are filed in NJ?

Either way, the criminal complaint eventually lands in the municipal court or the county prosecutor’s office, depending on the nature of the crime and the degree of the charge or charges in question. If the defendant is charged with a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense, these cases are sent to municipal court, where municipal prosecutors there handle the case and a judge, not a jury, decides the case. The sentence maximum is 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Conversely, indictable felony charges in the first through fourth degree are sent to the prosecutor’s office for review and decision whether to plea bargain, dismiss or proceed to trial based on the evidence, severity of the crime, and the defendant’s prior record. They may decide the case should be dismissed, sent to the municipal court for disposition or prosecuted in superior court. A case may be dismissed for minor offenses committed by an accused with no prior involvement with the criminal justice system. Charges reduced to disorderly persons offenses are remanded to the the lower court, which  in criminal cases is the municipality’s court where the charges were initially filed.

If the case does go forward, a warrant is prepared by the police and signed by a judge, for the police to arrest the suspect and bring them before the court. For lesser crimes, suspects are summoned to municipal court on a specific date to appear before the judge. At their first appearance in court, the judge reads the defendant the charges and for indictable cases requiring a bail hearing, the judge decides whether to release the defendant or keep them incarcerated pending the next court hearing.

What if the state files charges in Superior Court?

In superior court, the prosecutor may first offer a plea bargain to the defendant or present the case evidence to a grand jury for review. After considering the evidence, the grand jury decides either sufficient evidence exists to proceed with the criminal action or insufficient evidence exists to go forward. If the grand jury concludes the case should not proceed, the case is dismissed as a no bill case, meaning there is insufficient evidence to indict the accused of a crime.

If indicted, the defendant is arraigned where they plead guilty or not guilty in front of the judge. A guilty plea triggers a sentencing date for the next hearing. A not-guilty plea sets off a series of future court dates, including a pre-trial and trial date. Before then, the defendant may apply to the Pre-Trial Intervention Program (PTI) to have the charges cleared from their record after completing the program. PTI is a rehabilitation option for those with existing clean criminal records, who have committed certain crimes. If admitted, the case basically ends with a dismissal, unless the defendant fails to complete the program, which would cause the case to be set for trial. At trial, the prosecutor must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to convict. Of note: either the defendant or state may appeal the verdict.

What is the Victim’s Role when Pressing Charges in New Jersey?

The role of a crime victim is to not only set the wheels in motion by calling the police, filing a police report, and filing a criminal complaint, but they may also be to provide testimony at trial. They may have some say in plea agreements or at trial to assist the prosecutor. As to pressing charges, a victim may want the perpetrator to be prosecuted but ultimately, it is up to the prosecutor to evaluate the evidence and the circumstances to see whether guilt can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Likewise, if a victim does not want the defendant to be prosecuted, a prosecutor may still prosecute the defendant against the victim’s wishes and without the victim’s cooperation. After all, the criminal complaint is filed against the defendant in the name of the state, not the victim.

Can a Lawyer Help with my Case if Someone Files Charges against me in Morristown NJ?

Pressing charges embroils both the victim and the accused in the criminal justice system. Neither party may have ultimate control over the case proceedings. The prosecutor may have reasons for prosecuting or not prosecuting a case that do not seem just or fair. Whether you are the victim or the defendant in a criminal investigation or action, you have rights that a qualified criminal defense attorney can protect while advancing your interests in a criminal proceeding from beginning to end. Find the right advocate for your needs. Contact us now to speak with a lawyer who can advise and assist you. Consultations are free of charge.

Additional Information:

You had a terrible fight that turned physical and your wife got a restraining order against you. But things were settling down and she agreed to let you come over and get some of your belongings at the house. Before long, the two of you were arguing, and she called the police. Now, you have been charged with contempt for violating the restraining order. Situations like these happen on a regular basis across the state, leading to legal troubles for individuals from all walks of life. It may have even happened to you. Here is everything you need to know about restraining order violations in New Jersey.

Is Violating a Restraining Order a Crime in NJ?

A violation of a restraining order is considered criminal contempt. The punishment, however, depends on whether the violation of the restraining order is also a separate crime or a disorderly persons offense. If a separate crime, the violation is classified as a fourth degree crime, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and $10,000.00 in fines. If the violation is not a separate crime or offense, the violation is a disorderly persons offense, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000.00 fine.

So, for instance, if a husband violates a restraining order by stalking or harassing the protected person, the wife, the contempt is based on the additional crime of stalking or harassment, specifically listed in the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act as an indictable crime of domestic violence, and is therefore a fourth degree crime. Merely texting the wife, however, does not constitute a separate crime, so the husband would be charged with a disorderly persons offense. If a second offense, however, the violator is required to spend 30 days in jail after their immediate arrest.

Violating a protective order has serious consequences. So, how does one get a New Jersey protective order in the first place?

Anyone over 18 years of age or an emancipated minor, who has been a victim of one or more of the enumerated crimes listed in the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, may get a restraining order against an intimate partner, which includes a spouse, former spouse, date, former date, parent of the applicant’s child, or against a household member, by applying for one to the court. Upon review by a judge, if the application is approved, a temporary restraining order is granted. The order serves the purpose of forbidding the abuser to contact or come near the protected party and their household and workplace. It may also come with additional orders, such as child support, child custody, or financial support. Weapons confiscation is also required when a person is accused of domestic violence and facing a restraining order.

A temporary restraining order (TRO) is typically filed with a domestic violence complaint in the Superior Court, Family Division, nearest to where the act or acts of domestic violence allegedly occurred. A victim may file the complaint, with the assistance of court staff, or the police may file the complaint if called out to a domestic violence crime scene. The police may assist a victim with filing the complaint and TRO at the police station, also, and may file a criminal complaint against the alleged abuser. In this case, the police contact the closest municipal court judge to grant the TRO in person or over the phone. The victim may also file a criminal complaint in the Superior Court against the alleged abuser. The TRO application, however, is filed and heard in Family Court, typically on an emergency basis in absence of the person named as the defendant.

If only a temporary restraining order has been granted, can you still violate it in New Jersey?

You can violate any restraining order in New Jersey, regardless of whether it is temporary or permanent. If the TRO is granted, law enforcement serves the defendant with the order and notice to appear in court for the final hearing. They also confiscate the defendant’s firearms at that time, and, if the defendant resides with the victim, law enforcement makes the defendant leave the residence. A hearing for the final restraining order (FRO) is generally held within 10 days following the temporary order.

At that hearing, the applicant and the named defendant appear to present evidence to the court, including witnesses, as to why the order should or should not be final. The court must assess whether the parties are those qualified under the Act and if one of the crimes listed under the Act occurred and are likely to occur again. If granted, the final restraining order becomes permanent. The defendant’s photo and fingerprints then become part of the police database and the defendant is forbidden from owning a firearm. The FRO remains in effect until one of the parties returns to court to get the order dismissed, which is not easy. The court is critical of either party seeking to remove an existing restraining order. For this reason, the process of dissolving a restraining order is best handled by a knowledgeable attorney.

Unless a motion to vacate a restraining order has been granted, the person subject to the order must follow its rules or risk being charged with a violation.

Accused of a NJ Restraining Order Violation, What Should I do?

The consequences for violating a restraining order, whether it be a temporary order or a final protection order, are life-altering. In fact, criminal contempt conviction can potentially restrict your freedoms for life. If you have been accused of violating a restraining order in Mendham, Chatham, Madison, Morristown, Boonton, Rockaway, Mount Olive, or elsewhere in the Morris County area, contact an experienced lawyer now for a free consultation. We are highly familiar with criminal contempt in domestic violence matters, and we can help you defend your rights and protect your liberty.

You have been charged with assault after a dispute with your ex-wife or ex-girlfriend turned violent. You did not hurt her, but she called the police anyhow because she said she was scared and needed protection against you. Now you are worried about what will happen to you next. These types of events happen on a regular basis throughout New Jersey. Sometimes, the allegations are founded. Other times, not. Despite the diversity among domestic violence assault cases, everyone involved in these situations should be informed and aware of certain critical information. To that end, here are some things you may need to know about assault and domestic violence in New Jersey.

Assault: A Predicate Act of Domestic Violence

Assault in New Jersey (N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1) is a serious crime, whether you have committed simple or aggravated assault. Simple assault is intentionally or recklessly injuring another physically or negligently placing another in fear of bodily harm. A simple assault becomes aggravated assault when committed against certain people or under certain circumstances. Aggravated assault is intentionally, recklessly, or negligently causing another serious physical harm with malice or callous disregard for their lives. Aggravated assault may be committed with a weapon, a vehicle, or other threatening device, like a laser or a fake gun. The intention to harm, threaten harm, or recklessly behave, like setting off an explosion, characterizes the crime. If convicted, you face imprisonment and fines.

Simple assault is a disorderly persons offense, with punishments that include six months in jail and a $1,000.00 fine, and is handled in the Municipal Court. Unlike simple assault, aggravated assault is an indictable crime handled in the Superior Courts. Aggravated assault may be second, third, or fourth degree crimes, depending on the type and circumstances of the assault. For example, when an assault occurs while fleeing a crime scene, it’s a second degree crime, punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison and a $150,000.00 fine, but assault with a deadly weapon or pointing a gun at a police officer is a third degree crime that comes with a three to five year prison sentence and a$15,000.00 fine.

Assault is Grounds for a Restraining Order in New Jersey

In addition to imprisonment and heavy fines, assault may lead to more serious consequences when committed against a person who qualifies as a victim of domestic violence under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. If physical force or a weapon is used to harm or threaten harm to a spouse, former spouse, dating partner or former dating partner, sibling, parent, or household member, a victim of domestic violence may obtain a protective order restraining the abuser from contacting the victim and the victim’s household, including mutual children.

A victim may obtain the restraining order by reporting the assault to the police or filing a domestic violence action in the Superior Court, Family Division. A separate criminal complaint for the assault (or other crimes committed) may also be filed in the criminal courts against the person accused, by the police or the victim. Restraining orders not only prevent an abuser from coming near or contacting the victim and their household but may include support, reparations, and counseling. Restraining orders also come with weapons forfeiture orders for the defendant. A final restraining order is permanent, unless the person restrained by the order successfully completes a motion to vacate the final restraining order.

Detention Hearings for Domestic Violence Assault in NJ

Moreover, if the police are called to the scene of domestic violence and the accused is arrested, they may be detained in jail until the court determines whether the accused can be released or must stay in jail until a plea is entered or the case concludes. All domestic violence defendants, whether for simple or aggravated assault, are subject to detention hearings per New Jersey’s Criminal Reform Act, which eliminated monetary bail. So, if a judge determines that the defendant should not be released, they could stay in jail until the conclusion of the criminal trial and longer still if convicted. If the person is released, they must report to court for the pre-trial hearings and trial in their criminal case.

If released and they contact the victim holding a restraining order, the defendant is in for even worse trouble. A violation of a restraining order results in a separate crime, contempt of court, and may compound the criminal charges against the person. Criminal contempt is usually a fourth degree crime if it involves the commission of some type of disorderly persons or felony offense. If convicted, these charges are punishable by 18 months in jail and a $10,000.00 fine, but it also may be a parole or probation violation, which means longer, harsher sentences. Additionally, another arrest and detention hearing are more likely to result in an extended jail stay until the conclusion of the trial on the criminal contempt.

Facing Assault Allegations for Domestic Violence in NJ

Clearly, you can see that a simple or aggravated assault, which is also an act of domestic violence, can potentially entangle you in the criminal and civil courts of New Jersey for a long time. Retaining an experienced NJ criminal and domestic violence attorney to defend you against an assault charge in the municipal and superior courts, as well as a restraining order trial, is important to ensure that you are treated fairly and within your legal rights throughout the criminal process. Contact us to speak with an attorney who can handle all components of your domestic violence case, including criminal court for assault and family court for a restraining order. Consultations are free and we look forward to hearing from you.

No city in the United States is immune to domestic violence. Even in a peaceful suburb, like Morristown, New Jersey, domestic violence occurs whenever one person seeks total control over another, especially over those closest to them. Of course, not everyone accused of domestic abuse actually committed the actions included in the subsequent criminal charges or restraining order. If you are involved in a Morristown domestic violence case, here’s what to know.

Resources Available to Domestic Violence Victims in Morristown, New Jersey

When it comes to domestic violence, some believe substance abuse is to blame, while others believe past trauma or psychological disorders cause abuse. The profile of an abuser comes down to a controlling person, who believes they are victims of a society that denies them their absolute right to dominate their relationships. Sometimes a desperate attempt to keep a relationship drives physical, psychological, emotional, social, economic, and verbal abuse. And while there are few resources for batterers, victims have numerous options, like safe houses providing shelter, counseling, and other resources to protect and assist victims.

Morristown domestic violence victims also have rights under the law and protection by the police, as well as the criminal and family courts. Under New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, those who are victim of one or more specified crimes of varying degrees, from stalking to assault; are over 18 or an emancipated minor; and abused, threatened, or harassed by a current or former spouse, lover, household member, partner or parent of an existing or future child of the parties, are protected under the law. They may press criminal charges against the other party through the Morristown Police or on their own at the Morristown Municipal Court during regular court hours. They may also file a domestic violence complaint in the Morris County Superior Court, Family Division, concurrently with a petition for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). A TRO protects the petitioner and their household by a court order that forbids the defendant from contacting or communicating with the victim.

What Happens when Domestic Abuse Occurs in Morristown NJ

Criminal charges are typically filed by the police when called out to a domestic violence scene, where one party is visibly injured or claims to be. The police may arrest the alleged offender, confiscate any weapons, and help the victim file a criminal complaint, even taking the victim to the police station or courthouse. The criminal case is handled by the County or Municipal Prosecutor (depending on the degree of the offense), and the defendant may be charged with a domestic violence offense, as well as any other crimes committed in the act of domestic violence. The victim may additionally file a civil action in the family court division of the Superior Court. In the criminal action, the defendant may have an attorney appointed for them, while in the civil action, both parties may appear on their own or with their attorneys.

Both criminal complaints and civil complaints for domestic violence begin with filing the proper paperwork with the appropriate court. A police report, if the police were called out, is attached to both complaints. The criminal complaint is framed as the state against the defendant. As such, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant committed the acts alleged in the complaint. The victim’s role is to testify at the time of trial to the facts constituting the domestic violence.

In the restraining order case, the victim is the one prosecuting the complaint and must prove by a preponderance of the evidence (the evidence weighs more in the plaintiff’s favor) that an act of domestic violence occurred, there is a history of abuse among the respective parties, and the victim is reasonable in fearing for their safety. For the purposes of a TRO, the petitioner files papers with the family court swearing under oath to the facts of abuse, including the details of the incident: parties, witnesses, and location. The TRO application may request custody, visitation, and support arrangements in addition to protection. In some cases, the TRO is obtained in an emergency at the court or by phone. The judge hears the victim’s account of the abuse and, if convinced, orders the TRO. A full hearing follows ten days after, giving both parties the opportunity to tell their sides of the story, including bringing any witnesses to testify. Then, the court orders a permanent or final restraining order (FRO) if satisfied that the evidence supports such an order.

Accused of Domestic Violence in Morristown NJ?

A restraining order can have severe consequences for the defendant, potentially leading to criminal punishments, loss of civil liberties, and financial distress. While courts typically err to the side of caution when granting TRO’s, even without the defendant there, mistakes happen. Unfortunately, not every domestic violence claim is true. Given the emotional turmoil of strained domestic relationships, some claimed victims use the legal system to deny the other party parental rights or seek revenge by filing false domestic violence claims. In that case, the accused needs to be prepared at the final restraining order hearing to calmly and completely relay the true facts. To get the TRO and criminal charges dismissed, you need a skilled Morris County restraining order attorney fighting for you. If you have been falsely accused of domestic violence, find an experienced Morristown domestic violence lawyer to help defend you by contacting us today. Consultations are free and confidential.

Arrested in Morris County NJ – What if they Didn’t Read me my Rights?

Most people know that if they’re arrested they will be informed about their rights at that point in time, but the entire experience of being arrested can be very confusing and is a lot to take in at once. Understanding Miranda rights will help you if you’re accused of a crime and need to know how to act quickly in this situation before your criminal defense attorney is present. If you have already been arrested and the police failed to read you your rights, you may be wondering if this provides a valid defense against your criminal charges. In this article, you’ll learn more about what Miranda rights are, when the police are required to inform you of them, and how they impact the overall outcome of a criminal case in New Jersey. When facing charges for a crime in Morristown, Parsippany, Dover, Denville, Chatham, Madison, Boonton, Roxbury, Jefferson, or another town in the Morris County area, you are best advised to seek personalized guidance and legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can help. Contact us for a free consultation about your specific case today.

What are Miranda Rights?

Miranda rights refer to certain constitutional rights shared with a person who has been accused of a crime or is being questioned in relation to a crime in which statements could be made that are used against them in court. These rights explain a person’s right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, and the promise of due process in the criminal justice system.

When are Miranda Rights Required?

The most obvious time for rights to be read is when someone is taken into custody as a suspect for a crime. However, this does not mean that the Miranda warning has to be given at the scene of the arrest. So long as the officers gave you the legally required Miranda warning prior to questioning you, the information they obtain in this way could still be admissible in court. This becomes relevant if you did make a statement prior to those rights being read and the police will be using that statement in your case. Your criminal defense attorney may be able to challenge these statements, depending on the circumstances.

In some cases, just being questioned inside a police station is not enough of a situation to warrant your rights being read. It is always best to weigh all your options and rely on your right to remain silent and your right to speak with a lawyer even if you have not yet been accused of committing a crime. Some officers might rely on your lack of knowledge about these processes to try to get you to talk, but this is rarely in your best interests.

Failure to be Read Your Rights as a Criminal Defense

The police will almost always try to talk to you after you have been accused of a crime. This might be presented to you as a way to cooperate or you might even be told that you’ll have more options in front of you if you speak up now. It is rarely, if ever, recommended that you speak to the police or answer their questions if you are pressed to do so. However, if you do make statements during a custodial interrogation, it is important to understand if you had your Miranda rights read to you or not before doing so.

The failure to read someone’s Miranda rights can only be brought up as a challenge in the defense of a criminal case if it can be shown that there was a statement or confession being used against you when you were being detained and questioned, and did not have your rights read. The primary purpose of these rights being read, therefore, is to protect someone from a coerced confession. Another issue that can come up in NJ criminal defense cases is if the rights were read, but they were not honored by the relevant officers.

Other evidence can also be associated negatively with the failure to read Miranda rights. For example, physical evidence and testimonial evidence connected as “fruit of the poisonous tree” when the rights were never read, but should have been, is an option to explore with your defense attorney. As you can see, there are many complicating factors and these should be discussed with a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer.

Morristown Criminal Defense Lawyers can Defend Your Rights

If you have recently been arrested for a crime in Morris County, knowing your Miranda rights on your own is not enough to protect you and to ensure that you are prepared for each stage of the criminal justice process. Retaining a knowledgeable Morristown criminal defense attorney is a vital step to getting support for the legal aspects of your case. Even if the police are just asking you questions or have requested that you come down to the local police department, don’t wait to hire an attorney. Position yourself for the best outcome by exercising your right to a lawyer as soon as you can. For dedicated guidance and the answers you need now, contact a member of our criminal defense team today. Consultations are free and available 24/7 to best serve your needs.

Defense Lawyer Representing those Facing Criminal, DWI, Domestic Violence, and Violations of Morris County Coronavirus Order

Even though things have changed quite a bit, not just with courts in the U.S. but in New Jersey, crimes on the books can still lead to you being charged by the police. If you are accused of committing a crime during the Coronavirus pandemic, you need to know what your rights are and you should be prepared to defend yourself. Better yet, position yourself for the best possible results by hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney who knows how to handle your case. In addition to being charged with crimes that are already well known, that has been a crackdown on Coronavirus order violations in recent weeks in Morris County and throughout New Jersey, and you should recognize the possible risk. To discuss your case with an experienced defense lawyer who can advise you personally and address your concerns, contact a skilled Morristown criminal defense attorney today.

In this article, you’ll learn more about some of the most common offenses facing people in New Jersey right now and what to do in the event that you’re accused of violating an order or carrying out an offense.

Issued a Summons during COVID-19 in New Jersey

No resident of New Jersey should assume that because fewer people are out and that there’s a pandemic going on, that police officers and other authorities aren’t on the lookout for violations. Law enforcement has ramped up their efforts to respond to a broad range of issues, some of which can carry potential consequences for those accused. One report shows that towards the end of April, over 1,700 people in New Jersey have been handed order violation notices. In the neighboring state of Pennsylvania, only a handful of people have been accused of violations or crimes directly related to the Coronavirus, so this highlights just how seriously Garden State residents should take the risk.

Across the state, most people are aware of the risks of going out to attend large gatherings or opening their businesses when it comes to the possibility of getting sick, but you might have overlooked another potential downside: violations and resulting consequences if caught breaking these orders. The Attorney General’s Office recently released information about people who violated the emergency orders mandating the closure of all businesses not considered essential, and orders requiring people to avoid creating or attending large gatherings. When these statewide orders first came down, police had been giving warnings to those people who violated the rules, but that has evolved into a more serious response now.

Some people have received tickets or been hit with misdemeanor or felony charges. Some of these incidents have even involved people interacting with police officers who were accused of purposely coughing or spitting on them. The Coronavirus situation has brought more awareness to this situation, but it has not been legal to spit on police prior to the pandemic either. Several people who have been accused of doing this have been charged with second-degree terrorist threats or aggravated assault on police.

Other crimes that have emerged through news of charges against people include those attempting to sell alcohol illegally out of the back of a truck, child neglect and child endangerment for a group of people who held a large party while minors were also present in the home, and juvenile offenses for minors who allegedly tried to cough on or spit on a woman at a supermarket. For juvenile offenses, some of those cases involved the filing of petitions rather than charges. A petition requires the juvenile accused of the crime to show up in court in front of a judge who can decide whether or not the party in question should face charges.

Can I Be Punished for Coronavirus-related Offenses?

Yes. While crimes like the ones mentioned above already fall under the category of misdemeanors or felonies, summonses for disorderly persons offenses can also be handed out for people who violate the current emergency orders within the state, such as holding or attending a gathering. In Newark, for example, a total of 24 businesses were closed by enforcement in just one weekend and over 400 summonses were given to people who allegedly violated the emergency orders.

If you have been accused of anything from a minor violation of the current emergency orders or something more serious like assault, domestic violence, or terroristic threats, you need to be prepared with the top defense strategy. Even with court closures, you will either have a virtual court appearance or eventually have a day in court at some point in the future, and you should be ready to retain an experienced lawyer who can help you with the legal process. Although you might not assume this is a major issue, the cost of a negative outcome in court can be devastating for you and those you love.

Accused in Morris County during COVID Lockdown, What can I do?

Getting help from an experienced attorney handling criminal or DWI charges, domestic violence allegations, or a restraining order is essential if you want to protect your best interests and avoid the consequences you’re facing. Whether your case arose in Morristown, Parsippany, Dover, Denville, Boonton, Jefferson Township, Chatham, or another municipality in Morris County or New Jersey, contact us for a free consultation regarding what you can do today.