Drinking violation Morristown local attorneysWhen you are placed on probation or a similar restriction in New Jersey, you may not be able to do some of the things that you would normally do. In some circumstances, drinking alcohol is among them. Below we take a look at various types of restrictions that may be in place while on probation, Pre-Trial Intervention, conditional discharge, or another alternative sentencing option in New Jersey.

Is Drinking Allowed while on Probation?

Being placed on probation is essentially a way to avoid jail or prison for a criminal offense. However, you have to meet certain requirements to remain on probation. If you fail to meet those standards, you may be violated by your probation officer. Once a probation violation has been alleged, you must appear before a judge for a probation violation hearing. If you are found to have violated one of the terms, you may end up going to jail, sometimes for as long as your original sentence may have been. Other possible outcomes include extending the probationary term or imposing new restrictions.

Restrictions on how much you can drink are fairly common terms associated with probation in New Jersey. Specifically, you are not to have “excessive” alcohol. You can usually have one or two drinks, but it is important to specifically talk to your probation officer about drinking to avoid accidentally breaking any rules. If the crime that resulted in probation was related to alcohol, then your ability to drink will likely be further limited.

Can I Drink in the Pre-trial Intervention Program (PTI) Program?

Pre-trial Intervention (PTI) is a program that is available to some first-time offenders in New Jersey. Their crimes must be non-violent and typically classified as third or fourth degree indictable offenses. The program is available to some individuals, allowing them to avoid the significant negative consequences of having a criminal record. However, like probation, PTI has certain terms and requirements that must be met while in the program. One of those requirements may be that you have to restrict your alcohol consumption or undergo periodic drug and alcohol evaluations in compliance with a treatment program.

Alcohol Consumption & Conditional Discharge

Another option that is available for first-time offenders charged with certain disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey is called “conditional discharge.” This program allows an individual to avoid a judgment or conviction and the resulting criminal record. During conditional discharge, all proceedings are suspended and the person is placed under a status that is similar to probation. Conditional discharge may require that you undergo periodic drug testing, but alcohol is not monitored nearly as closely. However, the terms will likely be similar to probation, which means the requirement to avoid “excessive” drinking may be still be in place.

Notably, conditional discharge is not available to those who are charged with DWI. While a person charged with drunk driving is not prohibited from drinking if they are ultimately convicted of the offense, you will be required to attend alcohol education classes at a state-approved Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (IDRC). In addition, under certain circumstances, an ignition interlock device may be mandatory to install in your vehicle during the period of license suspension and for six months after license restoration. If you have an interlock, you will not be able to start or drive your car until blowing into the machine, which tests the amount of alcohol in your blood.

Have Questions after being Charged with a Crime? Get Help from an Experienced Morristown Criminal Lawyer

If you have been charged with a crime, you need answers from a knowledgeable source. Our criminal defense attorneys in Morristown, NJ have the experience to help you work through these complicated issues, as we have provided defense in municipal and superior courts throughout Morris County for years. Get in touch today to receive a free consultation.

What to Know if You Have Court for a Pre-Indictment Conference in Morristown NJ

Need a Lawyer for Morris County Pre Indictment Conference You have been charged with a criminal offense, appeared in front of a judge for your first appearance, and were given a Pre-Indictment Conference date. Now what? As a criminal defense lawyer who regularly appears in Morris County Superior Court in Morristown on behalf of clients facing criminal charges, I will explain the details of Pre-Indictment proceedings and answer some questions that I am often asked before we head to court.

What is a Pre-Indictment Conference?

You will likely have a Pre-Indictment Conference if you have been charged with an indictable offense, meaning a first degree, second degree, third degree, or fourth degree crime. Other States may refer to indictable crimes as felonies. These cases are handled by the county prosecutor’s office in the Superior Court, Criminal Division, of the county in which the alleged offense occurred. Municipal court cases involving disorderly persons offenses do not entail a PIC conference, as only felonies are subject to indictment in New Jersey.

A Pre-Indictment Conference is sometimes called a PIC, CC or Early disposition date. Regardless of what it is called, it is relatively the same across the State of New Jersey. The court sets the date and requires you, your attorney, and the prosecutor to attend. The hope is that the case resolves at the earliest stage in the criminal process.

What happens before I go to court for a Pre-Indictment Conference?

You will need to have an attorney before you go to court for the Pre-Indictment Conference. An experienced criminal defense attorney plays an important role in your court process and can help you achieve the best result. Your lawyer will obtain the discovery in your case from the Prosecutor, also known as the evidence. Discovery is anything that the State has and intends to use against you. Some examples of discovery are police reports, videos, dash-cams, photographs, drug samples, and  statements.

Depending on the nature of the charges you are facing, the discovery may be different. Some of the common charges that result in PIC dates in Morris County Superior Court include robbery, possession of CDS, burglary, and unlawful possession of a weapon. Regardless of the specific charges, you should review your discovery and speak with your attorney before your court date. Tell your attorney what is right or wrong with the information or what may be missing from the police officers’ reports. Your attorney will discuss the merits of the case with you to help you make an educated decision.

What if I Take a Plea offer?

Typically, the prosecutor will give your attorney a plea offer and ask that you take the “deal.” A deal may require you to plead guilty to a crime or lesser offense in exchange for a promise of a lower sentence than you would receive if you were convicted after a trial. If you decided to take the deal, the judge could not sentence you to any more than you bargained for in the agreement. If he did, then you can take your plea back.

If you choose to move forward with a plea agreement, your attorney will explain all of the rights you are giving up such as a right to a trial. The deal is written in the plea forms and signed by the prosecutor, the judge, your attorney, and you. An experienced attorney will make sure that the terms of your agreement are in the paperwork so that there are no surprises and you are protected. They can also advise you not to take a deal if the discovery shows clear errors on the part of police or if the evidence is simply too weak to support a conviction. Your lawyer can also explain other possible options, like a diversionary program, whereby you could get your charges dismissed.

In most cases, you go in front of the judge on your PIC date and plead guilty to what you bargained for. You will tell the judge what it is that makes you guilty of the offense.

Will I be sentenced that day?

If you plead to a criminal offense, you will be sentenced on a later date after the court staff interviews you and puts together a pre-sentence report.

Do I have to take the deal at the Pre-Indictment Conference?
No, you do not have to take the deal and you may plead not guilty and have the case referred to the grand jury. You have a right to have a trial on another date.

Why would I reject the deal?

Maybe the deal is not right for you, it is not the right time to make a deal, or you may just want a trial. Whatever the reason may be, the choice is up to you. If you choose not to take the deal, the prosecutor does not have to offer it to you again.

How long will I be in court on the date of my Pre-Indictment conference?

You may be in court from as little as a few minutes to as long as the entire day. You cannot leave until excused.

Will I go home at the end of the day after my Pre-Indictment Conference?

Yes, in most cases, you will go home after your case is heard.

Do I have to go to my Pre-Indictment Conference?

Yes, you must go this court unless excused by the court. If you are not excused, and do not go, a bench warrant may be issued and you may be arrested and held in jail.

Get Help with Your Morris County Pre-Indictment Conference

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, our attorneys can help. We represent clients at Pre-Indictment Conferences in Morris County Superior Court on a regular basis and we will guide you through the criminal process.  It can be a frightening experience to be charged with a crime, but we can help lessen your fears, help you understand your options, and fight for the best possible outcome in your case.  Contact us today for a free consultation.

File Motion to Vacate Permanent Restraining Order NJ

Remove Permanent Restraining Order NJ Help Need LawyerDo you need to remove an old final restraining order (FRO) from your record in New Jersey? We can help. Here is a case we handled for a client in Sussex County in early 2019 who hired us to do just that and we delivered with great success.

A client hired us in early 2019 to file a motion to remove an old final restraining order that was issued against her in 2003 in the Sussex County Superior Court in Newton, NJ.

The client was a perfect candidate to have this removed. She never had any alleged violations of the restraining order. She had never had any contact with the plaintiff in 15 years. The initial restraining order was issued based on excessive phone calls (harassment) and there had never been any allegations of violence. Our client has no criminal record and no history of substance abuse. She also has no other restraining orders issued against her. She has been happily married for 9 years and has a one year old child. She is gainfully employed. Based on all of these factors, and the massive amount of time that has elapsed since the issuance of the FRO (15 years), we filed a motion to have the restraining order vacated and dismissed based on a significant change in circumstances.

We filed a brief and a certification from the client detailing all of this information for the judge. We have to order the transcript from the original hearing and attach that to our motion papers according to the court rules. We also have to serve the motion papers on the plaintiff so they are aware of our application and they have an opportunity to object.

In this case, the motion was scheduled for a hearing before the Judge in Sussex County court. The judge reviewed our application and agreed with our motion to remove the final restraining order. The motion was granted and the FRO was vacated and dismissed. Now, she no longer has this permanent restraining order hanging over her head. Her fingerprints are removed from the domestic violence database and registry. She no longer can be arrested for contempt of court for violating the restraining order as it no longer exists.

Remove Restraining Order Sussex County NJ? Contact Us

This was a great result for our client and the law firm. Contact us anytime for a free initial consultation regarding your case.

Final Restraining Order (FRO) Dismissed on Appeal

Appeal Restraining Order NJ help lawyer needed
Appeal Restraining Order NJ

Do you need to appeal a final restraining order (FRO) that was issued against you? We can help you with that.

Here is an appeal that we won in early 2019 for a client who had a final restraining order (FRO) issued against him in late 2016 based on harassment as the predicate act of domestic violence. We felt that the evidence did not support a finding of harassment and that there was no need for a permanent restraining order to protect the plaintiff. As a result, we filed an appeal on these two issues.

The plaintiff and defendant were previously married and had two children together. The plaintiff now resides in New Jersey with the children while the defendant resides in California with his new wife and their young child. The incident that gave rise to the plaintiff filing for a temporary restraining order was concerning the children, when they were on vacation visiting their father in California. The plaintiff alleged that there were some harassing text messages sent when the parties were arguing about the children. However, these text messages were never provided or admitted into evidence.

The appellate court found that these 7 text messages did not constitute harassment in this circumstance. Clearly, both parties sent text messages back and forth and the purpose was a dispute over the parenting of their children. The plaintiff failed to produce the text messages and prove that they were harassing or that they were sent to harass the plaintiff. As a result, the court found that there was no harassment and no predicate act of domestic violence.

In addition, the court found that no evidence was produced to show that the plaintiff was reasonable to be in fear for her safety and that she needed the protection of the courts with a restraining order. The parties live across the country from each other (one in New Jersey and one in California) so it is difficult to prove a reasonable fear for your safety. Therefore, the court dismissed the case completely based on a lack of domestic violence and a lack of a need for a restraining order.

Here is a link to the NJ Courts website where you can read the entire opinion from the Appellate Court.

Lawyer Needed to Appeal Final Restraining Order NJ? Contact Us

This was a tremendous result for our client and the Tormey Law Firm. If you need a lawyer to file an appeal after a final restraining order (FRO) was issued against you, contact our offices anytime for a free initial consultation.

Fight DWI Charge Florham Park NJ lawyer
Florham Park DWI Charges

Have you been arrested and charged with DWI in Florham Park? Do you need a lawyer to fight these charges for you in court? We can help.

Our Morris County DWI defense lawyers recently represented a client facing a first offense DWI ticket arising out of Florham Park, NJ. He also received summonses for careless driving, speeding, and unsafe lane change. His purported blood alcohol content (BAC) was .09%, just over the legal limit in New Jersey of .08%. If convicted of the DWI, as a first offender, he would lose his driving privileges in NJ for 90 days, he would be sentenced to 12-48 hours of alcohol classes at DMV, pay a fine close to $800, and would be subject to 30 days in jail.

We received the discovery package from the Florham Park police department. Discovery is all the evidence the State possesses that they intend to rely upon to prove the charges against the defendant. Discovery in a DWI case typically includes police reports, video evidence, accident reports (if applicable), and all the documents relating to the Alcotest machine, the breath testing device they use in NJ. These Alcotest documents include solution change reports, calibration records, any repair records, and the Alcohol Influence Report which shows the breath samples taken and both the electrochemical and infrared results of the breath samples.

In this case, after reviewing all the evidence, we were able to challenge the breath reading and show that the defendant was not necessarily over the limit. In addition, he performed very well on the field sobriety tests so the State could not prove the DWI based on the psychophysical evidence.

As a result, the DWI charge was completely dismissed. The client plead guilty to careless driving and unsafe lane change. He lost his driver’s license for 60 days. This was a great result for our client and the law firm. The client avoided a DWI conviction on his record as well as $3,000 in DMV surcharges, fines, alcohol classes, and jail time. In addition, his car insurance would have significantly risen had he been convicted of the DWI.

Need lawyer for a DWI Arrest in Florham Park? Contact Us

If you or a loved one needs representation for a DWI charge in Florham Park or anywhere else in Morris County, contact our offices now for immediate assistance. The initial consultation is always provided free of charge.

arrested for a disorderly persons offense Morristown lawyer near meEvery crime in New Jersey is grouped into a classification based on the seriousness of the charge. As the crimes get more serious or violent, the penalties and consequences change. Essentially, the punishments get worse as the charges get more serious.

“Disorderly persons offenses” are one category of criminal charges under NJ law. They are actually one of the most common charges that lead to arrests for New Jersey citizens and people visiting from other states.

Arrested for a Disorderly Persons Offense in NJ

In other states, disorderly persons offenses are referred to as “misdemeanors.” They are simply less serious criminal offenses. In New Jersey, disorderly persons charges will be addressed in municipal court. Although these charges are less serious, you can still end up with a criminal conviction on your record because of this type of charge. They will stay on your criminal record for life, which means that they will show up on background checks run by potential employers, colleges and universities, and police department if you apply for a gun permit.

There are also two classifications of disorderly persons offenses: petty or regular disorderly persons charges. Petty disorderly offenses are less severe compared to a standard disorderly persons offense.

Common Disorderly Persons Offenses in New Jersey

Interestingly, disorderly conduct is actually a petty disorderly persons offense. The other very common petty disorderly persons offense is harassment.

Most other charges that fall under the disorderly persons “umbrella” of crimes will be disorderly persons offenses.  These types of offenses include things like shoplifting or criminal mischief that results in less than $200 in damages or loss. Simple assault, which may occur when there is a fight between two parties or an attempt to harm another person, is also a disorderly persons offense. Possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana is a disorderly persons offense, too.

Consequences of NJ Disorderly Persons Charges

Petty disorderly persons offenses have a fine of $500, and you can end up with jail time of up to 90 days. Disorderly persons offenses have maximum penalties of up $1,000, and the maximum time in jail is 6 months. You can also be sentenced to do community service, pay additional fines, and court costs if convicted of a DP offense. Of course, having this type of offense on your record can also affect you for years to come. It could hinder your employment situation, including your ability to get a job in the future. It may also affect professional licenses and create immigration issues. If you are convicted of another crime in the future, your first offense could have an effect on the sentence you receive in the second case too.

Need a Lawyer to Defend Me for Disorderly Persons Case near Morristown

Due to the wide-ranging consequences that a disorderly persons offense conviction could have, it is vital that you put up a vigorous defense in these cases. One of your potential options is to have the charge “downgraded” to a Municipal Ordinance infraction, which has less severe consequences, or have it dismissed altogether.

A talented Morristown, New Jersey criminal defense attorney at our firm can help you explore your options if you have been charged with a disorderly persons offense. We are here to help you determine what the best course of action is to minimize the impact that this charge has on the rest of your life. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.

Arrested for Creating False Public Alarm in Morristown?

Creating False Public Alarm Charges Morris County NJ
Creating False Public Alarm Charges Morris County NJ

If you or a loved one has been charged with creating a false public alarm in New Jersey under N.J.S. 2C:33-3, we can help.

Here is a case we handled in 2018 for a client facing those charges where we were able to keep this felony charge off of his record. Our client was a young professional who lives in Washington D.C. and is going to school for his masters. He was up in Morristown visiting his girlfriend and family and they were out drinking at some of the bars on the green. After their night was over, they went to the Morristown Diner for food. The establishment called the police because their crowd was creating a disturbance. The police asked the group to leave and they complied.

Unfortunately, our client was not happy with his interaction with the police and didn’t feel as though they were helping him. As a result, he called 9-1-1 for assistance. The police officers on scene responded and charged him with placing a false 9-1-1 call without an actual emergency under N.J.S.A. 2C:33-3(a), which is a fourth degree crime in New Jersey. He was facing a $10,000 fine, probation, up to eighteen (18) months in prison, and a permanent felony charge on his record if he was convicted of this serious offense.

Luckily, we were able to convince the Morris County Prosecutor’s office to downgrade the felony charge back to Morristown Municipal Court as a disorderly persons offense. Then, when we appeared in court and the prosecutor reviewed the police reports and circumstances of the arrest, Mr. Tormey was able to convince him to downgrade the case again to a town ordinance violation for disturbing the peace. This resulted in a fine and no criminal record for our client.

Lawyer Needed for 4th Degree Charge Morris County? Contact Us

The client was extemely satisfied with the service provided and the results in this case. With his promising career ahead of him, it was crucial to avoid any criminal convictions on his permanent record. If you or a loved one needs assistance with a criminal charge in Morris County, contact our offices anytime for a free initial consultation.

Rockaway Shoplifting Charges Result in No Jail Time on a Third Offense

Need lawyer for shoplifting case Morris County
Shoplifting Charges Morris County NJ

Have you been arrested for shoplifting in Morris County? We can help. Here is a case we successfully handled in 2018 for a client who was facing a third offense shoplifting conviction which requires a mandatory 90 days in the county jail if convicted.

Our client was a 61-year old married father who hadn’t had an arrest or conviction since 1990 (28 years ago). Unfortunately for him, his two prior convictions in 1989 and 1990 were for shoplifting. Under New Jersey law, a third conviction for shoplifting (at any time in person’s life, even almost 30 years ago), requires that the defendant serve 90 days in the county jail. This alleged shoplifting offense was in Rockaway Township in Nordstrom Rack in an amount of $74.00.

We were retained to handle the case and filed Laurick motions in the two courts where his prior convictions occurred (Wayne and Bridgewater). Because he was not represented by an attorney on those two prior cases, under New Jersey law they can not enhance his third offense to include that mandatory jail time. The argument is that he was not properly advised of his rights and the penalties involved for subsequent convictions because he did not have legal counsel.

Luckily for our client, the motion was granted in Bridgewater and the Judge there signed an Order stating that the prior conviction could not be used to enhance a subsequent conviction. This avoids the mandatory jail time.However, the Municipal Judge in Rockaway Township could still impose a jail sentence if he believed it was appropriate under the circumstances.

We submitted a sentencing brief to the Court which details our client’s age, medical issues, proof of employment, the hardship a jail sentence would impose on him and his family, the counseling he completed after this offense, and argued that he had been living a law abiding life for the last 28 years since his prior convictions and that should significantly mitigate the instant offense and the Judge agreed. He imposed a one year probationary sentence and 90 days SLAP (which is in lieu of county jail time). The SLAP program allows people to do community service instead of actual jail time.

This was a great result for our client and the Tormey Law Firm. Here is a review from our client on this case:

5.0 stars

Posted by John September 28, 2018

Hiring Mr. Tormey to defend my shoplifting charge was the best decision of my life. I was facing mandatory jail time due to two prior convictions. My case lasted 5 months, and was the most stressful time I have ever experienced. The judge was very unforgiving, and from the first court session we learn that he was going to give me the maximum mandatory jail sentence. However, with his skill and knowledge, Mr. Tormey uses ever possible strategy to get me from being incarcerated. At the sentencing date, the judge told me and quoted “This is a very lucky day for you, I have decided not to give you jail time, and you have to thank Mr. Tormey for he has worked very hard on your behalf”. With that I was given probation and no jail time. Mr. Tormey is a professional, very responsive and stayed focus to get you the best possible outcome. At one point I was ready to plead guilty, serve the time and then just move on with my life. He reassured me by saying “That is a terrible decision, just let me do what I can do and we will avoid the jail time”. I am glad I took his advice. I also wanted to thank Mr. Brent DiMarco, an associated with his firm who assisted the case by drafting and filing various motions with the other municipal courts, and in submitting the sentencing memo to the judge. His documents were comprehensive, timely filed and were instrumental in achieving the favorable outcome. If you need an attorney in this and other criminal matters, please do yourself a huge favor and call Mr. Tormey and his team of lawyers.

Lawyer Needed for Shoplifting Charge Morris County NJ? Call Us

If you or someone you know needs a lawyer for a shoplifting charge in Morris County, contact us anytime for a free consultation.

Juvenile Arrested for Marijuana in Morris County?

Child was arrested for marijuana Morristown lawyers near meMany of the same laws apply in full force to juveniles just as they do to adults in New Jersey. However, juveniles are often treated differently with more minor offenses, and some drug crimes will fall under this more lenient treatment. One of the most common drug crimes involving minors in New Jersey relates to simple marijuana possession, also known as possession of under 50 grams of marijuana. Below are just a few things that you should know as a minor or a parent if your child is charged with this type of offense.

1. Possession of Less Than 50 Grams of Marijuana is a Disorderly Persons Offense

If anyone is charged with simple possession of marijuana, this is a criminal misdemeanor, called a disorderly persons offense. The maximum amount of time in jail is six months, and you can face up to $1,000 in fines. If possession is over 50 grams, however, it is considered an indictable crime. In either type of charge, your driver’s license may be suspended for six months. Juveniles, however, face a different kind of penalty after a marijuana possession charge.

2. Sentences for Juvenile Marijuana Possession Charges are Flexible

If you get a possession charge as an adult, you may only have a couple of choices when it comes to a potential sentence. Most of those include jail time and fines, unless you have no prior criminal record, in which case you may be eligible for Conditional Discharge (explained below). As a minor, however, your sentence may involve things like probation, community service, drug rehabilitation, mental health counseling, or restitution. Suspension of driving privileges is also likely.

3. Your Child May Qualify for a Deferred Disposition

Individuals charged with marijuana possession who are first-time offenders are often eligible for a divisionary program called Conditional Discharge. This type of program allows them to stay out of jail and avoid a criminal record by completing a period of probation, during which they may have to submit to random drug testing. A deferred disposition in a juvenile case works very similar to having conditional discharge as an adult. Essentially, the minor can fulfill the requirements imposed by the juvenile judge and keep their juvenile record clean.

4. Paraphernalia Can Also Trigger a Weed Possession Charge in New Jersey

If a minor has a pipe that has marijuana residue, even if they do not have any marijuana on them, the minor can still be charged with possession of pot. The same can be said if an officer finds a joint nearby, even if it has already been mostly smoked. Essentially, any amount of a drug found in drug paraphernalia can lead to drug possession charges under New Jersey law.

5. Having Drug Paraphernalia is a Separate Charge

A minor might also be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia in addition to possession. That type of charge is also a disorderly persons offense. Even things like jars, pipes, rolling papers, bongs, scales, and electronic cigarettes could all be considered drug paraphernalia in some circumstances.

6. Marijuana Possession Charges for Juveniles Are Heard in Family Court

If you are under the age of 18, your possession charge will be heard in Family Court of the Superior Court in the county where you reside. It does not matter that you were charged in a different county—you must return to the county where you live to be charged as a juvenile. However, if you are over 18, then you will be prosecuted in Municipal Court where the incident occurred. If you or your child is a Morris County resident, your juvenile marijuana case will be heard in the Morris County Superior Court Family Division in Morristown, NJ.

7. You Might Have More Defenses Available Than You Realize

When police find marijuana, it is often the result of a search. However, there are only certain conditions that searches are permitted. If the search was invalid and they found marijuana as a result of the invalid or illegal search, then the evidence that it existed at all could be thrown out. Even questioning and telling someone about their rights must be done in a specific way. Any of these factors could create a defense to a juvenile marijuana possession charge.

8. Juveniles Will Still Face Drug Charges if Marijuana is Legalized in NJ

Although the question of whether marijuana will be legalized in New Jersey is still up in the air, one thing is certain: juveniles will still be charged with criminal offenses for marijuana possession if it is legalized. Minors and parents should keep this in mind regardless of what happens with any new marijuana laws in the coming months.

If you or your child has been charged with marijuana possession, get help formulating the best defense from our Morris County marijuana possession lawyers. Learn more about how we can help by contacting us today for a free consultation.

Need a Lawyer for Parsippany juvenile caseNot every juvenile case in New Jersey will go to a formal hearing before a Juvenile Judge. Some cases will be referred to “Juvenile Referees.” These individuals act as a go-between for the minor facing the charges and the judge. Juvenile referees hold hearings, but the proceedings are much less formal. The juvenile referee is trained and certified to fulfill their role. They will often decide cases using much less stringent evidence requirements. They may also make more creative recommendations regarding how a juvenile should be treated if the child is found to be “delinquent.” Here are the basics of what you need to know about Juvenile Referees if your son or daughter needs to appear for a juvenile case in New Jersey.

What is a Juvenile Referee in New Jersey?

A Juvenile Referee is appointed by the Family Court Judge. He or she is also approved by the Chief Justice. The State of New Jersey also has specific requirements that this person must meet to serve in this role, including undergoing training and education. Generally, the Juvenile Referee will hear pleas from juveniles and conduct hearings if the juvenile pleads “not guilty.” As a rule, more serious offenses (those that are considered at least third degree crimes) will not be heard by a Juvenile Referee. Sometimes, turning to a Referee is a logical next step if you have had an unsuccessful Juvenile Conference Committee meeting or if the case involves a repeat offender or violation of probation.

Hearing Before a Juvenile Referee in NJ

Trials that involve Juvenile Referees are far more informal than traditional juvenile hearings. Nonetheless, like a conventional hearing, both the state and the juvenile can call witnesses and submit evidence. The minor can testify on his or her own behalf if they wish as well. Once all of the evidence is presented, the Juvenile Referee will determine whether the juvenile is “delinquent” or “not delinquent,” just as they would do in an adult hearing that involves a “guilty” or “not guilty” verdict from a jury. However, there are no juries used in these types of hearings.

The Juvenile Referee will take recommendations from the law enforcement officer and the victim as to how the case should be decided. Nonetheless, the Referee has the ultimate decision-making power. He or she will then make a recommendation as to how the case should be resolved. That recommendation is then passed along to the Juvenile Judge for a final decision. Many times, the Juvenile Judge will use the advice of the Referee and defer to his or her judgment regarding any factual disputes, but not always.

Need a Lawyer for Morristown Juvenile Referee Hearing

The Juvenile Referee will ultimately recommend how the juvenile’s case should be handled. There are a wide variety of potential options that the Referee can suggest to the judge. For example, he or she may recommend dismissal, community service, fines, mental health evaluations, supervised probation, suspension of a driver’s license, and other more creative options.

Although a Juvenile Referee hearing is informal, it is still highly advisable to have an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you and your child obtain the best outcome. Presenting evidence and arguments in your son or daughter’s defense is a vital part of the process. The recommendations that the Referee makes are often used by the Juvenile Court, so getting it right the first time is very important. You certainly have a right to a lawyer in these proceedings and making that decision early in the process can help you be best prepared for what happens next. Call our Morris County Juvenile Defense Attorneys at (908) 336-5008 for more information on this unique juvenile process and find out how we can help you.