There are Specific Requirements for Buying and Possessing Assault Weapons in NJ, as Well as Severe Consequences for Unlawful Possession.

New Jersey has strict laws regarding firearms. In order to own a firearm, you must go through an application process discussed later in this article.  It is illegal to purchase or own an assault weapon unless you have a specific permit. The terms assault rifle/pistol category refers to firearms that can be fired in bursts or completely automatically (as long as the trigger is pressed, the weapon will continue firing).

Main Features of An Assault Rifle in NJ

A semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine and any two features listed is considered an assault rifle.  Those features are a grenade launcher, bayonet mount, a pistol grip that sticks out under the weapon’s action, a flash suppressor, or a folding or telescoping stock. Also, it should have a range of 300 meters.

Distinctive Characteristics of an Assault Firearm

A semi-automatic pistol that has a detachable magazine and at least two of these features:  an ammunition magazine that attaches outside of the pistol grip, a threaded barrel designed for an extender, a flash suppressor, forward handgrip, or silencer, a weight of 50 ounces or more, and a shroud that allows the shooter to hold the firearm with the non-trigger hand without getting burned, and an automatic firearm that has been converted to a semi-automatic.

Examples of Firearms Categorized as Assault Weapons

Examples of assault weapons are Weaver Arms Nighthawk, Sterling MK-6, MK-7, SAR, PJK M-68 carbine type, Colt AR-15 and CAR-15 series, Bushmaster Assault Rifle, Armalite AR-180, CETME 63, and G35A. 

What Do I Need to Purchase or Possess an Assault Weapon in NJ?

If you want to purchase a firearm, you need an FPIC (Firearms Purchaser Identification Card).  If you want to purchase a handgun, you need a handgun purchaser permit and are allowed only one gun per permit.  If you want to carry your handgun, you must get a permit, which must be renewed every two years. You can also apply for an FPIC (Firearms Purchaser Identification Card), which allows unlimited shotgun and rifle purchases.

To begin the process, it is necessary to inform your local police department and obtain an Originating Agency Identification Number (AGI). The AGI is crucial, as an incorrect or missing number will result in an immediate denial of your application.  It is a sort of routing number assigned to each applicant. Following this, you will need to complete the Firearms Application and Registration System (FARS). The application requires you to provide various details, including your physical characteristics (such as height, weight, hair, and eye color), address, criminal history (including any involvement in domestic violence), and information regarding any mental illnesses that have led to your being hospitalized for conditions such as severe depression, or suicidal thoughts.

Additionally, you will be asked about substance abuse problems and need to disavow any interest in organizations seeking to overthrow the government. Several references, excluding relatives, must be provided, and you will also be required to undergo fingerprinting. You must also complete gun training, how to handle firearms safely, and target training.

To possess an assault weapon legally in New Jersey you must have a license for the assault weapon. This is not a standard handgun permit; you will also need a permit for an assault weapon, which is rarely issued in New Jersey except in very specific situations. To get a special permit for assault weapons, you must fill out an application with the county superior court, where the court determines if you are qualified.  The license has a two-year limit.

Steps to Register Assault Weapons in NJ

To register an assault weapon, you must apply for a license in the county where you live in the Superior Court, giving the reasons why you need a license.  The Court will give the application to the county prosecutor, who will conduct an investigation.  If the prosecutor does not find cause to deny the application, it will be sent to the chief police officer in the municipalities where the applicant intends to carry the assault firearm. You will not be granted a license if you do not qualify for a handgun permit.  If you are given a license, it must be renewed every year through the same process.

Regulations on the Possession and Transfer of Assault Weapons upon the Owner’s Death

According to N.J.A.C. 13:54-1.13, a permit to purchase a handgun or an FPIC is not required to receive a firearm as an heir or legatee.  The firearm may be kept permanently if the recipient meets the requirements for a permit.  If the recipient is not qualified, there is a 180-day period that can be used to sell the weapon.  If an extension of time is needed, the weapon can be placed in the custody of the chief of police or Superintendent while a buyer is found.

Legal Consequences For Unlawful Possession of Assault Firearms in NJ

The type of weapon possessed plays a crucial role in determining the degree of the offense. It also affects the application of mandatory sentencing guidelines, such as those outlined in the New Jersey Graves Act, that pertains to various firearms offenses. Usually, the deadlier a weapon can be, the more severe the penalties given.  That is to say, if you walked into a store with a weapon that is not a gun, you may be charged with a fourth degree crime, while if you came in with a handgun, you are facing second degree charges instead.

Charges for unlawful possession of assault weapons are considered second degree offenses, resulting in a five-to-ten-year sentence and a fine of up to $150,000.  There is a presumption of incarceration and due to the Graves Act, a mandatory minimum of 42 months, or one-half to one-third of your sentence, whichever is greater, that must be served before you are eligible for parole.

An Assault Firearm Defense Attorney in Morris County can Assist You

Weapons charges are a serious matter.  You need an attorney who knows the gun laws and can offer stellar representation.  Being proactive and getting an early start on preparing your case is to your advantage. Our attorneys are skilled, knowledgeable, and committed to building the best defense possible for your assault firearms charges.  We will explain step by step how we will use time-tested strategies to zealously defend you against assault weapons possession charges in East Hanover, Dover, Chatham, Parsippany, Morristown, Denville, Rockaway, and across Morris County and New Jersey.  If you need legal representation in this matter, call us today at 973-524-7238.

You are Exposed to Serious Repercussions for Drugged Driving in NJ, as Penalties are Distinct from Drunk Driving

If you turn on the local news for five minutes or visit any local news website, you would not be hard-pressed to see that drugs are taking over the minds and bodies of all those around us. There have been very serious accidents that have been the result of drivers under the influence of serious and dangerous drugs. These drugs have been both prescribed and obtained illegally. It is important to note that it does not matter how legal the drugs are; what matters is if you were under the influence of these drugs while you were driving a vehicle.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs versus Alcohol Consumption for DWI in NJ

Under New Jersey state law, there is no difference in the statute that you are charged with if you are caught driving under the influence of drugs versus alcohol. However, the penalties of such are greatly affected, and the consequences can be different as well. For example, 39:4-50 relies heavily on the Blood Alcohol Content of the driver in terms of sentencing, however, with drugs, obviously there is not a BAC level to refer to. Therefore, sentencing may depend upon other factors that your attorney can coach you on.

What Substances Can Lead to a New Jersey Drug DUI Offense?

Driving Under the Influence can arise from driving under the influence of illicit substances such as heroin, cocaine, fentanyl and hallucinogens such as acid, mushrooms and/or PCP. People typically take these drugs not realizing that they will be driving later on. Regardless of the reason, if you drive under the influence of a controlled and dangerous substance, you are liable to cause a lot of damage.

Oftentimes, people drive while under the influence of prescription drugs that they have obtained completely legally. It does not matter how you obtained the drugs, what matters is that you drove under the influence of a mood and/or mind altering drug. You will be charged either way.

Consequences for First, Second, Third Offenses in DUI on Drugs Cases in New Jersey

Driving under the influence of drugs can still result in a loss of license, even though no alcohol was involved and your blood alcohol content cannot be ascertained. Specifically, driving under the influence of CDS can lead to losing your driving privileges for seven to twelve months for a first offense if you are convicted.

For a first offense the accused faces fines between $300 and $500 thirty days incarceration, attendance at the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center between 12 and 48 hours, as well as a $230 IDRC fee. They also pay $100 to Drunk Driving Enforcement Fund, $100 to the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Fund, $75 to the Safe Neighborhood Services Fund, $50 to the Violent Crimes Compensation Board, as well as $1,000 motor vehicle surcharge fee for three years. You may also face license suspension from 7 months to one year and up to 30 days in jail.

For a second offense within 10 years of the first offense, fines jump up to between $500 and $1000, 2 year loss of license, 30 days community service, 48 hours in jail (or in the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center), no more than 90 days in jail, as well as an ignition interlock device to be installed and used for one to three years.

A third offense is a $1,000 fine, 10-year loss of license and 180 days in jail. Half of the jail sentence may be spent in an inpatient facility as long as it is approved by the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center.

How are Driving Under the Influence of Drugs Charges Proven in New Jersey?

Typically, state cases for driving under the influence are proven through circumstantial evidence. This is usually the case for driving while intoxicated cases in which the driver was inebriated. The state will try to introduce evidence that shows the driving patterns of the driver before they were pulled over, they will try to show the behavior of the driver (possibly through dash cam footage or body cam footage), and they may try to introduce evidence such as field sobriety tests.

It’s important to remember that the police may also administer a blood test and/or a urine test, that you are unable to refuse given that there is sufficient probable cause. If you do refuse to submit to a blood and/or urine test, then you face another charge with severe consequences if you are convicted.

Another tool in the arsenal of many police stations throughout New Jersey is that they use Drug Recognition Experts (DREs). These police officer are specially-qualified to respond to a scene of suspected driving under the influence of drugs and administer several tests in order to ascertain if the driver was under the influence while they were driving and what drug they were possibly using before they drove.

Get Help with DUI vs. DWI in NJ

There are many reasons to hire a solid New Jersey DUI defense lawyer, the first being that the experience of your attorney will prove invaluable when attempting to circumvent the life-altering consequences of the charges against you. Since these cases are proven largely on circumstantial evidence, witness testimony, expert testimony, etc., an experienced lawyer can attack every minute aspect of the process of your arrest to charge and show the judge exactly where reasonable doubt exists.

A talented DUI attorney can also help you with the mitigating aspects that may help you after the fact, such as enrolling in treatment and proactively addressing any issues that may have initially led you to the charges in Randolph, Mendham, Mount Olive, Morristown, Parsippany, East Hanover, Rockaway, Denville, and other towns in Morris County and New Jersey. These cases are very difficult for both parties because there is a lot at stake, but you can put your best foot forward by enlisting the assistance of a DUI attorney for your best defense. Call 973-524-7238 or message us to talk to an attorney as soon as possible.

Marijuana Use and the Law in New Jersey

Over recent decades, cannabis has been a hot topic across the United States. In 2021, Governor Murphy signed the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act into law. This law legalized cannabis possession for some New Jersey citizens and decriminalized possession of both marijuana and hashish. This sweeping change has left some confused about what the legalization of cannabis means for New Jersey, particularly as it relates to certain pockets of the population and within certain parts of the state. Read on to learn more about legal marijuana possession and use in New Jersey, the conflicting nature of federal law on this subject, and how these interplay in criminal cases involving cannabis still today.

How Old Must You Be to Use Marijuana in New Jersey?

The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act legalized cannabis use for people 21 years old and older. An adult can legally possess up to six ounces of marijuana. It is still illegal to be in possession of marijuana, hashish, or any associated products before the age of 21, though the severity of such illegal possession has been decriminalized under the law.

Marijuana Restrictions within a Military Facility

While New Jersey state law makes recreational marijuana legal, it is still considered illegal under federal law. All members of the military are subject to this federal standard, and marijuana use is prohibited for all members of the military. This includes medical marijuana use, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved cannabis for medical purposes.

Policies Regarding Drug Testing and Investigations While in the Military

Military personnel do undergo substance testing at regular and random intervals. Regardless of cannabis’s legality in New Jersey, military personnel serving in the state need not concern themselves with its legality here, and refrain completely.

Does Marijuana Legality Vary in National Parks?

National parks follow federal law, and as such, marijuana possession and use remains illegal. New Jersey citizens who enjoy the legality of marijuana under state law must take care to respect federal law while on its national parks such as the Gateway National Recreation Area, Morristown National Historical Park, and the Lower Delaware National Wild and Scenic River.

Penalties for Marijuana Offenses on Federal Government Property

Possession of marijuana on federal land can result in serious penalties, including up to a year in federal prison for a first offense, as well as up to $1,000 in fines; and up to two years for a second offense, with heightened fines to pay. These crimes are severe enough, but if you are caught selling marijuana on federal land, the penalties you face increase substantially. The sale of fewer than 50kg may result in up to five years in federal prison and as much as $250,000 in fines. Selling to a minor doubles the penalties.

Importance of Knowing the Specific Regulations for Each Park or Outdoor Grounds

While one may be tempted to assume that because marijuana use was made legal in the state of New Jersey in 2021, they can enjoy open access, this is not the case. First of all, private property owners can determine whether they allow marijuana use on their property, and those who disrespect their wishes are subject to penalties. Additionally, New Jersey state parks and U.S. federal parks abide by different laws in terms of cannabis possession and use, so while it may be safe to use marijuana in one park, it could land you in jail in another. It is your duty as a responsible citizen to review the jurisdiction of each park and outdoor property before considering using a cannabis product there.

Talk to a Marijuana Attorney in New Jersey

Because recreational cannabis use is a new and emerging area of legality in the state of New Jersey, some precedents have not yet been set regarding its use. Additionally, due to overlapping state and federal laws based on jurisdiction, the law can get murky. For these reasons and more, it is important to have the skilled guidance of a cannabis defense attorney if you have been charged with illegal possession, sale or intent to distribute, selling marijuana to a minor, growing marijuana, or maintaining a CDS production facility. Contact 973-524-7238 for a free consultation with a New Jersey lawyer who has kept a pulse on the emerging area of recreational cannabis laws across the United States, as well as federal opposition to sweeping measures of legality.

Having successfully represented hundreds of clients charged with cannabis offenses in Florham Park, Parsippany, Randolph, Morristown, Denville, Parsippany, Rockaway, Hanover, Chatham, Madison, Dover, and other towns in the Morris County area, we provide zealous defense against all manner of marijuana charges. Contact us today for immediate assistance regarding your marijuana case.

Even though they can seem like minor offenses, disorderly conduct in New Jersey is penalized with stiff consequences.

Being a law-abiding New Jersey citizen seems like a straightforward task, but there are many minute ways a person can end up on the wrong side of the law. Engaging in disorderly conduct is one of them, and many New Jerseyans find themselves with a criminal disorderly conduct charge as a result of relatively minor, nonviolent behavior. If you have been charged with disorderly conduct, your life could be changed for the worse due to potential long-term consequences. You need a skilled criminal defense lawyer on your side. Contact us today at 973-524-7238 to learn how we can help. Read on to learn more about criminal disorderly conduct in New Jersey.

What it Means to be Charged with Disorderly Conduct in New Jersey

Disorderly conduct is a criminal misdemeanor, or disorderly persons charge, in New Jersey, which results from behavior deemed by a judge to be improper or offensive. A person who is found to act in a way intended to cause a public disturbance, be it annoyance or fear, can be charged with disorderly conduct.

Law About Disorderly Conduct

According to N.J.S.A. 2c:33-2, disorderly conduct is the petty disorderly person’s (criminal) offense that purposefully causes “public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly [creates] a risk thereof.” According to the 2009 law, disorderly conduct is categorized as either improper or offensive behavior that is conducted in a public setting.

What Actions are Deemed to be Improper?

N.J.S.A. 2c:33-2 states that improper behavior includes publicly fighting, threatening, or engaging in violent behavior. It also consists of creating risk to others without legitimate reason or necessity.

What Kind of Language is Considered Offensive?

Offensive language, according to the law, includes the active offense of the sensibilities of those present by the use of loud and coarse language. The audience present, setting, and other factors, as well as the behavior of the perpetrator, affect whether someone can be rightfully charged with a criminal disorderly persons offense for offensive language.

Examples of Disorderly Conduct and its Occurrence

Common examples of disorderly conduct include drunk and disorderly behavior, public heckling, rioting, engaging in a bar fight, and making threatening comments or behaviors, though the range of disorderly conduct offenses is varied.

Legal Repercussions of Disorderly Conduct

Disorderly conduct is a petty criminal disorderly persons offense, which is equivalent to a criminal misdemeanor. The result of such a charge is up to 30 days in jail and a $500 financial penalty, as well as potential alternative or additional consequences such as restitution paid for damaged items, community service, and probation. Additionally, because disorderly conduct is technically a criminal offense, the charge will remain on one’s criminal record.

Is Jail a Possibility for Disorderly Conduct?

The judge may order that a person convicted of disorderly conduct serve up to a month in jail. However, particularly for first-time offenders convicted of nonviolent disorderly conduct, a skilled criminal defense lawyer can help the person pursue alternative sentencing options.

Alternative Sentencing Options in Disorderly Conduct Cases

Alternative sentencing options for a disorderly conduct charge in New Jersey include conditional dismissal, as well as having a charge lowered to a municipal ordinance violation and other case-specific options, as in the case of military veterans battling alcoholism or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Conditional Dismissal for Disorderly Conduct

Conditional dismissal is an option often exercised by first-time offenders, in which a defendant can ensure the charge be dismissed at end of the case in exchange for following a set of conditions during an extended period of monitoring. In essence, conditional dismissal is an alternative sentencing option that occurs when a defendant pleads guilty and is placed under probationary supervision. Upon meeting the conditions of the probationary term, the person’s charge is dropped. They also become eligible for an expungement within 6 months to remove the offense from their record.

Reduction of Disorderly Conduct to a Town Ordinance

A defendant can often have a disorderly conduct charge reduced to a municipal ordinance violation with an experienced criminal defense attorney advocating for them in court. A municipal ordinance violation, also known as a town code violation, is not a criminal offense and is equivalent to a minor civil code violation such as a noise complaint.

In Morris County, disorderly conduct charges are specific and can be serious for your long-term outcomes without a solid defense. As a result, having your criminal charge lowered to a municipal ordinance can mean the difference between paying a fine and moving on, or dealing with the costs and consequences of a criminal disorderly conduct conviction.

Concerned About Disorderly Conduct Charges in New Jersey? Get Help

If you have been charged with disorderly conduct in Parsippany, Mount Olive, Florham Park, East Hanover, Dover, Madison, and other towns in Morris County and across New Jersey, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney working on your behalf. Having your charges downgraded or dismissed is possible, especially if your lawyer has handled thousands of disorderly conduct cases in municipal courts statewide for years. Call 973-524-7238 to speak to an attorney in a free and confidential consultation. Let us put our knowledge and experience to work for you.

New Jersey takes the safety and well-being of children and minors very seriously. As such, it is a very serious crime to engage in any sort of act that endangers the health of a child, including any engagement with child pornography. This includes the possession of child pornography, its production, distribution, or making a child participate in a sexual act for the purposes of filming. As one can imagine, child pornography charges can have a lifelong adverse effect on a person’s life, as they may end up on the Megan’s Law sex offender registry, which, in addition to jail time and steep fines, can affect the person’s job prospects and reputation long into the future.

If you’ve been charged with a crime involving child pornography, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney in your corner. Contact an experienced lawyer at 973-524-7238 to learn how we can assist you in protecting your rights and defending you to the utmost extent in this very serious case.

Who Conducts Investigations Into Child Pornography Cases in NJ?

Child pornography crimes are more and more often happening on the digital platforms available today. For that reason, New Jersey State Police set up the Digital Technology Investigations Unit, which investigates various digital crimes that “utilize computers and computer technology for the purpose of exploiting children” and includes the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Once a crime is investigated, the case is tried by the criminal court system of New Jersey, as child pornography crimes are considered felonies.

Child pornography law in New Jersey is covered under New Jersey Revised Statutes 2C:24-4, which makes it a crime to endanger the welfare of children. Subjecting a child to illicit sexual acts, either actively through their creation and production or passively through their possession.

Child Pornography Possession Under NJSA 2C:24-4

According to NJSA 2C:24-4, possession of child pornography is a third-degree felony. A person who is found in possession of child pornography may face three to five years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.

Law on Child Pornography Distribution and Possible Penalties

NJSA 2C:24-4 states that if a person is found in possession of child pornography with the intent to distribute or having distributed the material, they will be charged with a second-degree crime. A second-degree child pornography distribution charge carries a penalty of up to ten years in prison and up to $150,000 in fines.

Severity of Filming Child Pornography and Associated Ramifications

Filming or producing child pornography is a very serious crime resulting in a second-degree charge. The penalty associated with a second-degree child pornography production charge is between five and ten years in prison and $150,000 in fines.

Charges and Penalties for Creating or Allowing the Creation of Child Pornography

The most serious child pornography charge for private offenders is the creation of child pornography, which means the direct exploitation of a minor under the age of 18 in sexual acts or appearances thereof for the purposes of producing child pornography. This is considered a second-degree crime, though it is elevated to a first-degree felony with a prison sentence of up to 20 years in prison and up to $200,000 in fines when a parent or legal guardian of the minor is responsible for the creation of child pornography.

Is Sex Offender Registration Compulsory in Cases Involving Child Pornography?

All people convicted of sexually-related crimes, including the possession, distribution, and production of child pornography, are subject to Megan’s Law, requiring that they register as a sex offender.

The Seriousness of the Charges Requires a Solid Defense

While the charges of child pornography appear so serious that it seems a person charged with such a crime could not escape the consequences, there are common defenses. Some common defenses include proof of illegal search and seizure, non-ownership of pornography found in possession or ignorance of possession, a defendant turning themselves in upon discovering possession of material involving minors or destroying it, or entrapment by officials.

Get Experienced Advice if You are Facing Child Pornography Charges in New Jersey

As is clear, any charge involving child pornography in New Jersey is a very serious issue because of the state’s commitment to protecting the welfare of children. An experienced criminal defense attorney will go to great lengths to thoroughly investigate your charge to ensure that all charges against you are just and that the investigation was conducted legally. A child pornography charge is not something to take lightly, and a qualified legal team can help you have your charge reduced or even dismissed.

Our attorneys have decades of combined experience successfully protecting the rights of clients in Parsippany, Rockaway, Mount Olive, Madison, Florham Park, Morristown, East Hanover, and other towns in Morris County and across New Jersey when it comes to child pornography charges. Contact us today at 973-524-7238 for a confidential and free consultation.

Criminal Convictions Have Lasting Impacts on Your Life

A criminal conviction on your record has a long-lasting effect on a person’s life. The immediate consequences are clear. People may have to obtain counsel to help them navigate criminal proceedings. They may have to prepare for trial or plead. This may result in a conviction, jail time, and fines. Once that criminal process is over, the sentence is served, and fines paid, the conviction still affects a person’s life. Below we discuss some ramifications of a conviction in New Jersey.


One of the most common areas where a conviction lingers is in employability. Even when a person has a job, if they are convicted of a crime, they risk losing it. If a person isn’t employed and is looking for employment, they must also disclose the conviction. Since most places of employment require background checks, the conviction will come up. In certain circumstances, the conviction can prevent a person from getting a job. While the prospective or current employee has legal rights regarding how the conviction is used in an employment decision, it is an extra hurdle that a convicted person must navigate. Depending on the conviction, the person can also be excluded from certain professions. For example, licensed or certified professionals risk disciplinary actions and even the loss of their license for certain convictions.


Another area where a conviction can have an immediate effect is in the area of immigration enforcement. Even after a person serves their sentence and pays fines, they may have to answer immigration charges. That’s because certain convictions render a person inadmissible in the United States and potentially deportable. This can be more stressful than the criminal process because the consequences include deportation. Immigration consequences following a criminal conviction affect non-citizens and lawful permanent residents.

Retirement and Pension Benefits

New Jersey law explicitly precludes public employees from receiving their pensions when convicted of certain crimes. New Jersey state and local employees, including teachers, are at risk of having a conviction sever their privilege to collect their state pensions.

Convictions and Family Matters

If a person is convicted and sentenced to at least 18 months in jail, their spouse can proceed with a divorce based on an “at-fault” ground. A conviction doesn’t just affect a person’s marital status but also their parenting time. A conviction has the potential to alter a parent’s parenting time, resulting in supervised visitation or loss of parenting time altogether.

Right to Vote

While every American has the right to vote, each state can impose limitations on those voting rights. In New Jersey, individuals who are incarcerated cannot vote during elections. When a person is released from prison for a felony conviction, they may not be able to participate in elections until all the provisions of their sentence are completed. This includes jail time, counseling or other court-ordered programs, and even parole.

How can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Assist Prior to a Conviction?

The best time to enlist the help of a criminal defense attorney is when you are charged with a crime. Having an experienced lawyer can help you understand the implications of a conviction. While the prosecutor may offer an attractive plea deal that carries no jail time, the particular offense you plead guilty to can significantly affect your life for more than a few days in jail. It’s essential to approach any conviction with the question – what will be the collateral consequences? An attorney can guide you through that process and work tirelessly to get your charges dismissed or reduced to the lowest possible level with the least impact on the rest of your life.

Alternatives for Expungement Following a Conviction

New Jersey offers expungements for certain arrests and convictions. When a record is expunged, it seals the arrest and related documents from the public eye. That means that if an employer requires a background check, an expunged record will not appear. Nor will you be required to disclose such an arrest. It’s as if the arrest and conviction never happened.

Not every conviction in New Jersey will qualify for expungement. In fact, NJ has listed specific convictions that will not be eligible, such as arson, perjury, and murder, to name a few. Expungement is not automatically done. You must file a petition with the court, submit specific documentation, and ensure that every step in the process is completed correctly. Enlisting the help of a qualified attorney can help with the entirety of the process to ensure that your expungement successfully goes through.

A knowledgeable expungement lawyer can ensure that everything in your petition is correctly completed to seamlessly remove certain convictions from your record and help you move on with your life. However, a person must wait to have a record expunged in many cases. The wait time will vary according to the committed crime or crimes and how the case was resolved in court. For instance, an arrest and charge resolved through the Pre-Trial Intervention Program entails a shorter wait time than a felony conviction resulting a prison sentence.

Contacting a Lawyer is Crucial for Defense or Expungement in New Jersey

An experienced criminal attorney in New Jersey can help you navigate past the consequences of a criminal conviction to help you get back to the life you had. With very specific requirements and procedures, handling an expungement or defense against criminal charges is the last thing you want to DIY. Contact our tested and trusted criminal defense lawyers today for immediate assistance and a complimentary consultation. We serve clients in Rockaway, Florham Park, Parsippany, Morristown, Roxbury, Mount Olive, Dover, and other towns in Morris County and across New Jersey. Please call 973-524-7238 or send us a message to talk to an attorney as soon as possible.

Many people have been pulled over by the police, usually for mundane reasons such as a broken taillight or speeding.  A valid traffic stop is one where the police have observed an infraction related to your vehicle.  Examples include broken headlights or tail lights, no license plate or expired plates, dark window tint, shattered windows, or visibly defective tires. They can also stop you when they have probable cause.  Examples include speeding, not using headlights, swerving, reckless driving, or other driving-related infractions.

The Supreme Court Standard For a Proper Vehicle Stop in NJ

In 1996, in the case of Whren v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled that a traffic stop is acceptable as long as the officer involved can justify it with a traffic infraction committed by the driver. The officer’s actual motives for the visit are irrelevant. The Whren case began when Whren and a friend (Brown) were driving in what the police referred to as a “high crime area.”  Police, in an unmarked vehicle, observed Whren turn without signaling and heading rapidly down the road.  They pulled him over to see When holding a bag of crack cocaine.  Both men were arrested.  They moved to suppress the evidence because they felt the police used the traffic stop to stop them. After all, there was no indication that the men were involved in anything illegal or drug-related. The motion to suppress was denied, as was their appeal, and ultimately the Supreme Court decision affirmed nothing was wrong with the stop and subsequent arrest.

Regarding your 4th Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures, the Supreme Court has often ruled in favor of the police, granting them a wide scope regarding traffic stops and vehicle searches.  The Court has said that if a vehicle is stopped and searched legally, any unlawful items or proof of illegal activities can be used as evidence.

A Previous Case in Delaware V. Prouse

An officer in a marked car made a traffic stop in Mr. Prouse’s car.  There was marijuana on the vehicle floor in plain sight of the officer.  Prouse was arrested on drug charges.  The police officer testified that there was no great reason why he made the stop.  Mr. Prouse hadn’t committed any traffic infractions, nor had the officer observed any suspicious activity on the part of Mr. Prouse.  His only purpose for making the stop was to check Mr. Prouse’s driver’s license and to make sure he had car insurance.  Mr. Prouse presented a motion to suppress the evidence found, and it was granted.  The court commented that they do not lose their right to privacy simply because someone chooses to drive a car.

Reasonable Suspicion for a Traffic Stop in New Jersey

Based on the case mentioned above, for the police to detain a driver or passengers, they must have a reasonable suspicion that a traffic infraction has occurred. These range from a failure to yield, passing on the shoulder of the road, tailgating, or driving while texting.  The police do not have the authority to effect an arrest or conduct a search of the vehicle when the traffic violation is a minor one.

A Practical Example in State v. Pierce

Nicholas Grass was found speeding with two passengers in his car, Pierce, and Bernardo.  The police officer, Rette, made the traffic stop and verified that Grass was driving on a suspended license.  He then arrested Grass for driving while having a suspended license.  Pierce and Bernardo were ordered to exit the vehicle.  Officer Rette searched the car and found a metal container with a loaded gun.  He also found three jackets, and while checking the pockets’ contents, he came across a trace amount of cocaine wrapped in plastic wrap that belonged to Pierce.

At trial, Pierce submitted a motion to suppress, claiming the search was unrelated to the suspended license issue and therefore, was bogus. The Appellate Court ruled that Grass’ arrest for driving with a suspended license was legal and consequently opened the door to a search of the car and its contents.

Anonymous Calls Used to Justify Traffic Stops

Because anonymous calls to the authorities are sometimes based on the caller’s perception of what is happening rather than what is happening, there must be corroboration by the rules that a stop needs to be enacted.  For example, if a tip comes in that there is a reckless driver in a 1989 blue Mustang speeding through a convenience store parking lot, but when the police arrive, they find the Mustang. Still, there is no evidence that the driver has been reckless; they cannot investigate further.  If the tip comes from a 911 call regarding an intoxicated driver, there is an exception, and the police will seek out the car and make a stop.

Understanding the Community Caretaking Exception

Police may effectuate a traffic stop without observing a traffic infraction if there is a belief that help is needed.  An example is a couple screaming, arguing, and violently motioning with their hands while the car is in motion.  The driver isn’t speeding or driving erratically, but the situation is less than ideal and could become a hazard to the couple or the cars around them.

Examples of Reasons For a Motor Vehicle Stop in NJ

Motor vehicle violations include DWI, speeding, speeding in a school area, talking on the phone while driving, texting while driving, failing to yield to a stop sign or traffic light, having too many passengers in the car, driving at night without headlights, missing a bumper, tailgating, and passing over a double yellow line.  There are many more, but these are a few of the most common.

What to do if You are Charged after an Unlawful Stop in New Jersey

A criminal defense lawyer can protect your rights and perform the investigation needed to not only build a solid defense for you, but to challenge the legality of the stop itself.  The police are not allowed to stop you on a hunch or because they think you may commit a traffic violation or other crime. Your attorney can potentially argue that the traffic stop was unwarranted and have your case thrown out altogether.

What sets an exceptional attorney apart in obtaining justice for clients is a willingness to persevere until everything that can be done has been done. You deserve to have your rights protected, and hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can do that for you is important if you have been charged with a crime or traffic violation in New Jersey.

Letting things like this go is never a good idea when you need a defense that works in Florham Park, Rockaway, Mount Olive, Harding, Boonton, Madison, and other towns in Morris County and across New Jersey. Contact 973-524-7238 or fill out the form to speak with a criminal attorney as soon as possible.

What to Know about DWI Resulting in Accidents and Injuries in New Jersey

Everyone has made a wrong decision, and the consequences can sometimes be grave.  The charges for driving while under the influence when an accident is involved can add up to severe charges.  If you have been charged with a DWI and caused an accident, it is imperative that you contact a defense attorney immediately.

What if an Accident Happens in a DWI Case in NJ?

An accident can add more charges than just a DWI, some of which are felony criminal offenses. These are called indictable offenses in New Jersey and they carry terms of imprisonment for those convicted.  You can also be responsible financially for the injuries of those involved in the accident if it is determined to be your fault in civil court.  Abandoning the scene of an accident, which sometimes happens when the driver is afraid of arrest, can add even more charges for which you may also receive enhanced penalties.

How Severe are Charges For a DWI Accident Causing Bodily Injury in NJ?

The charge for DWI resulting in bodily injury is assault by auto. New Jersey comes down particularly hard on DWI accident cases, especially when the accident seriously injures someone. Often, what they consider a “serious” injury is painted with a broad brush.  Cases regarding bodily injury in an accident where the at-fault driver was driving while intoxicated are a fourth-degree offense punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.  A third-degree crime takes place when there is serious bodily injury. The penalties are 3 to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.  There are several criteria to be charged with a second-degree crime, which is the most severe: the accident occurred in a school crossing or school zone, the driver was violating the state’s DWI law, and the injuries caused are considered serious.

What Constitutes Bodily and Serious Bodily Injury in DUI Related Accidents?

Bodily injury can be defined as impairment of a physical condition, pain, or illness and serious bodily injury is one where the victim suffers permanent disfigurement, a risk of dying, loss of a body part, loss of function of a body part, or the loss of an organ.

Facing Charges For NJ DWI Resulting in Death

The charge for a DWI resulting in death is also known as vehicular manslaughter or vehicular homicide.  There are three parts that the prosecutor must show for a conviction of vehicular manslaughter, also called death by auto or vessel.  The first is that the accused was, in fact, driving the vehicle, and second, they were doing so in a reckless manner.  Driving recklessly means they were driving while intoxicated, had fallen asleep at the wheel, did not stay in their lane, or were using a hand-held device.  Weaving in and out of traffic, racing, or driving at a dangerously high rate of speed are also categorized as reckless driving. The third component is that the defendant was the direct cause of the victim’s death.

Several years ago, New Jersey passed a law which is written explicitly for vehicular homicide cases where the perpetrator was driving while under the influence. This offense is easier for the state to prove, as it requires fewer elements to get a conviction. According to the strict liability vehicular homicide statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.3, a driver can be charged with violating this law if they are involved in an accident while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and someone else is killed due to the accident. In these cases, the prosecution need only prove that the driver was driving while intoxicated or impaired by a substance, and that the death of the other individual was not too unrelated to the driver’s conduct leading up to the crash. This strict liability case removes the presumption of non-incarceration, even though the charge itself is a third degree indictable offense.

How to Determine the Degree and Penalties for a DUI Accident that Caused Death in NJ

First-degree vehicular homicide has a potential fine of $200,000 and a 10 to 20-year prison sentence. First and second-degree crimes under N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5 differ only in the fact that with a second-degree charge, the DWI accident wasn’t in a school zone.  Vehicular homicide in the second degree carries 5-10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000. For a strict liability vehicular homicide charge under N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.3, the degree of crime is less but the sentencing parameters are stringent. In the third degree, a sentence of up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000 is applied.  Typically, if it is the first offense, jail time is not mandatory. However, if it is a conviction for third-degree strict liability vehicular homicide, there is a presumption of imprisonment.

Importance and Purpose of Civil Reservation In These Cases

If a driver enters a guilty plea to assault by auto or vehicular manslaughter, and they receive a civil reservation, the civil court is not permitted to use the guilty plea against the driver in a lawsuit.  Its purpose is to allow someone to accept a plea of guilty without having to worry that it will automatically make them civilly liable for the victim’s damages.  Without this protection, the courts would be overflowing with needless trials of people seeking exoneration to avoid being found liable automatically in civil court. A civil lawsuit in these cases can be financially devastating.

Have You Been Charged in a DWI Accident in NJ?

There are numerous components that have to fit together in a particular way for the prosecutor’s case to be airtight.  For this reason, an experienced defense attorney can help create the reasonable doubt necessary to get your charges reduced or dropped altogether. There are many mitigating circumstances that can be leveraged to move the balance in our favor. If you or someone you know has been charged with assault by auto or vehicular homicide related to a DWI accident, you need to hire someone who can protect you. A battle-tested defense lawyer can work to make sure every avenue is taken to help minimize or mitigate the consequences in your DUI accident case. We have a passion for defending our clients and a history of favorable outcomes in Parsippany, Florham Park, Madison, Rockaway, Mount Olive, Morristown, and other towns in Morris County NJ.

Don’t wait another day to get a head start on your defense. Call 973-524-7238 to speak with an attorney who can help. Consultations are always provided at no cost anytime, day or night.

NJ DWI Law Updates Over Time

Do you know the differences in New Jersey DWI law between the previous law and the December 2019 amendments to 39:4-50? If you have been arrested for a DUI offense, you need a comprehensive understanding. The differences are significant and affect the daily lives of those convicted of driving while intoxicated charges across the state. Another tremendous factor in what role a conviction under the new law will play is whether your attorney is experienced with defending against it. You would be surprised how many attorneys out there haven’t handled very many DWI’s since before the December 2019 amendments. This is a serious issue and WILL negatively affect the outcome of your case and, therefore, your life in a very big way. For this reason, it is advisable to find an attorney who has successfully handled thousands of DWI cases on behalf of clients throughout their careers, and many DUI charges since the changes to DWI laws took effect.

Old School Drunk Driving

Most people have a family member they don’t see too often, but when they do, they are showered with fascinating tales of yesteryear, maybe their “glory” days. Every now and then you may hear a story of how they may have had one gin and tonic too many and decided to make the worst decision of their lives: drive home. If this happened in the ‘70s and ‘80s, if they got pulled over, it really depended on how well they knew the police officer. The endings to these stories may range from being driven home by the officer, or “followed home” by the officer, to literally having the book thrown at them in court.

The 1970s and ‘80s were a different time. DWIs were definitely not taken as seriously as they are today. The law before the amendments in December of 2019 included serious penalties. However, these penalties had to be applied the same way to a wide range of defendants, which spans those who have a serious drinking problem and may kill someone one day, to a person who may have had a faulty breathalyzer and didn’t have the right attorney. For these two defendants, the penalties were the same.

Pre-December 2019 Driving While Intoxicated Sentencing

Sentencing under the old laws immediately preceding the amendments went according to four levels of DWI offenses. The lowest, with the most lenient minimum sentence, would come with a person’s first offense if their Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) was between .08% and .10%. The second level would also be a first offense; however, the BAC would have to be greater than 0.10%. The lowest level first offense had a 90-day suspension, with the Judge having the discretion of adding an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). An IID is a device installed on a convicted drunk driver’s vehicle that prevents the car from starting without the driver blowing into a breathalyzer and receiving a legal BAC level result. The Judge also had the discretion to institute community service but was mandated to sentence the defendant to 12 hours of attending the Intoxicated Driver’s Resource Center (IDRC). The IDRC is a locked-down facility in which defendant’s learn about alcoholism. They were mandated to attend two 6-hour days there and cannot miss their session or risk being deemed non-compliant and having a warrant issued for their arrest.

Second time offenders were subject to a mandatory two year license suspension and at least 48 hours in the IDRC program. Third or subsequent offenders, the highest level of penalty and harshest sentence, carried a license suspension of ten years, community service, at least 48 hours of the IDRC, and a mandatory 6 months in jail. Three months out of the six-month sentence, however, could be spent at a drug and/or alcohol rehabilitation facility. Mandatory jail sentences for a third or subsequent offense came about through tragedy. A New Jersey case involving a drunk driver hitting and killing a young nineteen-year-old boy prompted former Governor James E. McGreevey to sign into law this sentencing guideline. The driver had four previous DWI convictions yet remained free and able to drink. Suspensions won’t stop everyone from getting behind the wheel after drinking a few or more. In 2003, when this law was signed, the statistic was 1/3 of all DWI arrests were repeat offenders, who are also 40% more likely to be involved in a fatal accident.

What Drunk Drivers Face in a Post-2019 DWI Landscape

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is probably one of the most successful and powerful lobbying groups when it comes to alcohol and driving. The MADD New Jersey affiliate has supported and fully endorsed the 2019 amendments. New Jersey, when the amendments passed, became the 34th “all-offender” state which means that we now require ALL DWI offenders to have the IID installed and the 37th state to use or test the device. The sentencing changes, in fact, largely revolve around the IID, and determine the length of suspensions for first time offenders with any BAC reading at the time of arrest. Here’s a quick reference guide to the new and improved 39:4-50:

Penalties § 39:4-50. Driving while intoxicated (2019)

# of DWI’s

(Blood Alcohol Concentration)

Ignition Interlock Device Time DL Suspension (LREK) Intoxicated Driver Resource Center (hours detained) Jail Fines ($) 

1st (greater than .08 but less than .10)

*No mandatory suspension of driver’s license*

6 months to 1 year Only suspended for the time it takes to have IID installed and operating 12 to 48 Up to 30 days $250 to 400
1st (greater than .10 but less than .15) 7 months to 1 year Only suspended for the time it takes to have IID installed and operating 12 to 48 hours Up to 30 days $300 to 500
1st (>.15) 9 to 15 months 4 to 6 months 12 to 48 hours Up to 30 days Same as above
2nd Offense 1 to 3 years post-suspension 1 to 2 years Min. 48 hours Up to 90 days $500 to 1000
3rd or subsequent offense 1 to 3 years  post-suspension 8 years Min. 48 hours Mandatory 180 days (90 days in rehab) $1000

For those convicted of a first offense and have a BAC reading below .10% but more than .08%, there is no mandatory license suspension. However, it is now mandatory for the defendant to have an IID installed in their vehicle. In order to start their vehicle, they will be required to blow into the device and achieve a BAC reading below 0.05%.

Just like the old statute, the 2019 amendments separate first-time offenders by BAC readings at the time of the offense. However, a new classification of offender is created: those with a BAC of .15% or above are still subject to a license suspension between four and six months long, as well as the IID installation.  The IID must be installed and utilized for a maximum of fifteen months and no less than nine months.

Second-time offenders may be suspended for up to two years and have the IID for no more than four years and no less than two. It is also important to know that for fines, these are the actual penalty for offense. However, the court always adds mandatory assessments required by law.

Safer Roads for All is Always the Goal

The legislature’s intent was to improve the likelihood of an effective deterring sentence. The previous statute still allowed convicted offenders to get behind the wheel if they drank because the suspended license is only effective if the offender is caught, which the families of victims can tell you is too late. Instead of waiting for a qualifying DWI offense, New Jersey now brings a proven method of ensuring drunk drivers, specifically those who have been previously convicted of drunk driving, do not commit the same offense again.  While most people think a suspended license may be the most invasive and disadvantageous penalty of a DWI sentence, the IID imposes monthly costs, installation fees, removal fees, in addition to court finds, mandatory assessments, insurance surcharges (MVC $1000 penalty per year for three years). Now that the suspension isn’t necessarily required, convicted offenders are now incentivized to control their drinking and be able to go to work so they can pay for their monthly expenses.

The new statute does not include a strict penalty for getting a DWI in a school zone. Before the 2019 amendments, if you were caught driving drunk in a school zone, the penalties were seriously augmented. A message had to be given to those “reckless” enough to drive drunk near children. Having realized that a school zone is not constantly filled with children every minute of the day, the legislature thought this harsh penalty to be obsolete. There is no longer a school zone provision in the DWI statute. School zones and 1,000 feet around them meant DWIs proven to occur there would ruin the life of whoever was driving drunk. Most DWIs happen late at night or distanced from the actual school property. No children are typically harmed. This elimination is consistent with New Jersey’s push toward rehabilitation.

DWI’s Are Serious Traffic Offenses in NJ Title 39

Every penalty listed in the chart above is considered a Consequence of Magnitude. Those words carry depth and weight. “Consequence” is defined as “a result or effect of an action or condition,” and  “magnitude” means “the great size or extent of something.” These penalties are a result of wrongful behavior intended solely to punish and rehabilitate. There is a fine line between punishment and rehabilitation or making life harder for the convicted versus helping the convicted change their lives and prevent any future offenses.

The only way to ensure that the proper balance is struck is to retain an experienced attorney who has defended against the 2019 world on DWI charges. Besides the perfection that’s required of the state to guarantee a conviction and the strict methodology put into place by precedent, the state can lead the court towards a more punitive conclusion to your matter than you can achieve with proper legal representation. With an experienced attorney, your life and family will be taken into consideration every step of the way. With knowledge, training, and success on their side, an accomplished DWI lawyer can often find mistakes made in how the arresting officer conducted everything from the initial stop, to the field sobriety testing, issues with the breathalyzer test or how it was administered, lack of strict adherence to protocols like the 20-minute observation period, and many more errors that could present your best path to a dismissal.

Contact a Lawyer with Proven Results Handling DUI Cases Since the New DWI Laws in New Jersey

For more information, call 973-524-7238 or fill out an online request for a free DWI legal consultation today.

Even if no one actually gets hurt, pointing a firearm at another person can land you in serious criminal trouble in New Jersey. Perhaps it was by accident or maybe an ill-humored joke, but if you are facing charges for aggravated assault or assault on a police officer, your liberty is at stake.

Legal Implications of Pointing a Gun at Someone in New Jersey

If you point a firearm at someone, you can be convicted of fourth degree aggravated assault in New Jersey. In order to be found guilty of this offense, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intentionally pointed a firearm at another person while demonstrating extreme disregard to the value of the person’s life. If convicted of fourth degree aggravated assault for pointing a firearm, you may be sentenced to up to 18 months in prison and face fines of up to $10,000.

Special Consideration for Pointing a Firearm at Police Officer

If you take these same actions against a police officer, point a laser device at them, or even just display or brandish a weapon in a police officer’s direction, you can be charged with aggravated assault as a third degree offense. If convicted, you can face between 3 and 5 years in state prison and be ordered to pay fines of up to $15,000.

In order to be found guilty, the prosecution must prove that you knowingly pointed or brandished a firearm at a law enforcement officer or in their direction, you knew the individual was a law enforcement officer, and you did so under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of the officer’s life. With regard to elements like your  knowledge that the individual was a law enforcement officer, the prosecution must prove that you were actually aware of the fact or you were aware that there is a high probability that the individual was a law enforcement officer.

It is also third degree aggravated assault to point, use, or display an imitation firearm at or in the direction of a law enforcement officer to intimidate them, put them in fear of bodily injury, or for any unlawful purpose. It does not matter if you knew the gun was fake or did not intend to actually hurt the officer. The imitation firearm must merely be reasonably capable of being mistaken as a real firearm.

Pointing a firearm or imitation firearm at an officer is subject to New Jersey’s No Early Release Act (NERA), which requires those convicted of pointing a gun at an officer to serve at least 85% of their prison sentence before they can become eligible for parole.

Pointing a Firearm and Accompanying Criminal Offenses

Depending on the circumstances giving rise to your aggravated assault charges, you may face additional criminal charges like unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, terroristic threats, disorderly conduct, or resisting arrest.

New Jersey’s gun laws are some of the toughest in the nation. Unlawful possession of a weapon or possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose can result in years of imprisonment with a minimum period of parole ineligibility. The same circumstances giving rise to a charge for aggravated assault can form the basis of a possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose charge, which carries potential imprisonment of five to ten years.

Preparing a Strong Defense if You Have been Charged with Pointing a Gun

There is no one-size-fits-all defense approach for pointing a firearm charges in New Jersey, and it is critical that you have the facts and evidence in your case examined thoroughly by an attorney who has handled many of these cases before. Ultimately, the goal of your defense team is to exonerate you or substantially reduce the charges against you and, therefore, your potential penalties.

If you are a first-time offender, you may be eligible to participate in Pretrial Intervention (PTI), which can enable you to avoid a criminal conviction. However, if your specific charges are subject to the Graves Act, then you will have to obtain a Graves Act Waiver in order to be able to participate in a diversionary program like PTI. To obtain a Graves Act waiver, you must be a first time offender and show that the imposition of the prison term required under Graves would not serve the interests of justice in your case. This can be a complicated process, and it is very important that you have the assistance of a knowledgeable defense attorney to have you navigate your way through it.

Securing a Graves Act Waiver is no easy task; however, it is by no means an impossibility. With a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense lawyer who has secured many Gravest Act Waivers, negotiated pleas to lesser sentences, assisted with the process for successful admission into PTI for clients, and won case dismissals involving guns and other weapons many times in their career, you can trust that your case and your future is in good hands.

Need to Speak with a Lawyer about a Pointing a Firearm Case in Morris County NJ

As there are often other criminal charges that accompany a charge of pointing a gun at someone, particularly if that person is a police officer, it is necessary to take a holistic approach to your defense strategy. For a complimentary consultation with an experienced attorney defending clients accused of pointing a firearm in Morristown, Rockaway, Parsippany, Roxbury, Mount Olive, Denville, Dover, Florham Park, and other towns in Morris County and across New Jersey, contact 973-524-7238, or fill out this form today.