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

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

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

Ways to Challenge a Restraining Order in NJ

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

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

New Jersey Permanent Protection Order Consequences without the Proper Defense

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

Defense Lawyer Help with a Morris County Restraining Order Case

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

Someone Pressed Charges in Morris County NJ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What if the state files charges in Superior Court?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Information:

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

Is Violating a Restraining Order a Crime in NJ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Assault: A Predicate Act of Domestic Violence

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

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

Assault is Grounds for a Restraining Order in New Jersey

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

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

Detention Hearings for Domestic Violence Assault in NJ

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

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

Facing Assault Allegations for Domestic Violence in NJ

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

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

Resources Available to Domestic Violence Victims in Morristown, New Jersey

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

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

What Happens when Domestic Abuse Occurs in Morristown NJ

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

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

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

Accused of Domestic Violence in Morristown NJ?

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

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

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

What are Miranda Rights?

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

When are Miranda Rights Required?

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

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

Failure to be Read Your Rights as a Criminal Defense

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

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

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

Morristown Criminal Defense Lawyers can Defend Your Rights

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

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

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

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

Issued a Summons during COVID-19 in New Jersey

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

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

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

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

Can I Be Punished for Coronavirus-related Offenses?

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

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

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

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

The influence of a drug recognition expert can have serious implications for a NJ drug DUI case. In fact, this person’s findings can have a major impact when determining the outcome of the case. Depending on where your DUI charges occur and the circumstances surrounding your arrest, you may be subject to evaluation by a drug recognition expert (DRE) who satisfied the training requirements necessary to be approved for certification as an officer who can assess you for signs and symptoms of being under the influence. In this article, you’ll learn more about what a drug recognition expert does, the influence this could have on your DUI case, and how a skilled defense attorney can respond to and challenge the insights of the DRE involved in your case. If you have been accused of driving while under the influence in New Jersey, you can get a free consultation with a talented DUI lawyer by contacting us today.

The Role of a Drug Recognition Expert in New Jersey

A drug recognition expert evaluation and corresponding report is used in most NJ DUI cases involving claims of drugs. This person is a police officer who has been specifically trained to identify instances of drug impairment. A drug recognition expert (or DRE for short) is responsible for knowing and detecting seven different categories of drugs, including inhalants, central nervous system depressants, central nervous system stimulants, narcotic analgesics, dissociative anesthetics, and hallucinogens.

There are twelve different protocols employed to detect impairment involving drugs for a DWI case. These include a breath alcohol test, a consultation directly with the arresting officer, a preliminary exam, divided attention tests, an eye exam, a dark room exam, vital signs evaluation, a muscle tone exam, injection site examination, the suspect’s statements, and the opinion of the evaluator. The performance at each stage of the DRE test is matched against the seven categories of drugs mentioned above, which include both illegal drugs and prescription medications.

The DRE test is usually administered at a police station or state trooper barracks after a person has taken the alcohol intoxication breath test. Often if the person accused blows a .04 or .05, in this case the officer might suspect they did drive under the influence of drugs. Since these tests should be administered as soon as possible after an arrest for DWI, there is sometimes an opportunity to challenge the opinion of the DRE if one of these steps was overlooked or if a lot of time lapsed between the initial arrest and subsequent drug recognition exam.

How Can an Attorney Challenge a DRE Report in NJ?

Often a DRE report on its own is not enough for a drug DUI conviction, but the testimony from the DRE officer who completed the report will almost certainly be relied upon to some extent by the prosecution in their quest for a conviction. The prosecutor will work to create a link between the toxicology report and the testimony from the DRE when attempting to prove driving under the influence charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

Fortunately, an experienced DWI defense attorney can look for discrepancies in the DRE report and call into question results relating to blood tests, breath tests, or urine tests. Other common defenses to a drug DUI charge in New Jersey include: lack of proper basis for the original motor vehicle stop, inability to prove operation, failure to conduct a speedy trial, failure to demonstrate a valid basis to arrest the accused, and lack of reliable scientific evidence.

Drug Recognition Exam in my DUI Case, What am I Facing?

Given the high stakes involved in a case involving DUI charges, it is imperative for an accused person to recognize the powerful role played by the DRE. Upon a conviction, a person charged with drug DUI can face an array of serious penalties. In fact, those charged with a driving under the influence of drugs in New Jersey face higher tier penalties when compared with those facing charges for a first DWI offense with a blood alcohol content between 0.08% and 0.10%.

First offense driving on drugs penalties include a driver’s license suspension of between 7 months and one year, fines up to $500, up to 48 hours inside the intoxicated driver resource center, a $100 enforcement surcharge, a $1,000 per year insurance surcharge for three years, up to one year with a mandatory ignition interlock device following the conclusion of the suspension period, and as many as 30 days in jail. For a second or third DUI offense, the driver’s license suspension goes up. Fines are also higher and ignition interlock periods longer with subsequent offenses for driving under the influence in NJ.

Help Fighting a DRE for DUI Charges in Morristown NJ

If you have been accused of driving under the influence and a Drug Recognition Expert was involved in your case, it is imperative to retain a defense lawyer with experience in DUI cases and how to challenge the observations and assertions of a DRE. For more information regarding the DRE for your DUI charge in Morristown, Denville, Dover, Roxbury, Mendham, Boonton, Washington Township, or another Morris County locality, contact us now. Consultations are available anytime and entirely free of charge.

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

Criminal Complaints: Summons and Warrants

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

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

Offenses: Indictable, Disorderly Persons, & Petty Disorderly Persons 

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

Complaint Administrative Dismissal

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

Municipal Remand

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

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

Bench Warrant

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


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

Grand Jury

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drug Possession Charges in New Jersey

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

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

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

Additional drug possession offenses in New Jersey include:

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

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

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

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

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

Common Drug Charges involving Weapons in Morris County NJ

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

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

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

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

Need Help with Drugs and Guns Charges in Morristown?

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