Every year people are charged with various crimes and criminal offenses in Atlantic County and the rest of New Jersey. The criminal justice system can be confusing even for people familiar with the ins and outs of the legal system. A complicated system combined with potentially harsh penalties can put a lot of pressure on any defendant. However, you must always remember that you have a right to defend yourself in court. An experienced lawyer can help you protect your rights and fight the charges or accusations against you.
A qualified lawyer can mean the difference between going home to see your family and seeing your family from behind bars. Our Atlantic County criminal defense lawyers will work with you to provide you with the best defense possible for your case.
Reach out to the Law Offices of John J. Zarych online or by calling (609) 616-4956. Talk to our legal team about a confidential and free legal consultation.
What Happens if You Are Arrested for a Crime in Atlantic County
Being arrested in Atlantic County may happen differently depending upon your circumstances. In some cases, a defendant is arrested by the police on-sight with no warrant. This kind of arrest typically happens very shortly after the crime was committed. Police usually see the defendant commit the crime or witness the defendant attempting to flee the scene. Police can arrest you on sight this way if they have probable cause to connect you to the crime and believe you to be dangerous. These are situations where it would be unwise to wait for an arrest warrant because the suspect could be long gone and hurt someone else.
You could also be arrested sometime after the crime was committed under an arrest warrant. Police do not always have a suspect right away and a criminal investigation is required to uncover evidence and find any people of interest. If the police believe you are responsible for the crime and have sufficient evidence and probable cause showing such, they can request an arrest warrant from a judge or magistrate. Once they have the warrant, they can show up at your home, work, or anywhere else to arrest you.
If your arrest is unlawful or unsupported by probable cause and evidence, you may be able to challenge the arrest and the underlying criminal charges. Contact our Atlantic County criminal defense attorneys for more information.
Common Criminal Charges and Penalties in Atlantic County
Criminal charges in Atlantic County are divided into two broad categories of offenses. You can be charged with a disorderly persons offense or a crime. Crimes tend to be more serious offenses and carry harsher punishments.
A crime is an offense that can be punished by incarceration of potentially more than a year. Crimes are subdivided into crimes of the fourth, third, second, and first degree. Crimes of the first degree are extremely serious and carry very long prison sentences of at least 10 years but less than 20 years. Second-degree crimes carry penalties of a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 10 years in prison. Third-degree crimes carry penalties of at least 3 years but not more than 10 years. Fourth-degree crimes are the least serious and may be penalized by a maximum prison term of 18 months.
Lesser charges are referred to as disorderly persons offenses. Such offenses are generally minor violations that are more often punished by fines rather than a prison term. Although, some disorderly persons offenses can be penalized by a prison term of up to 6 months. Regardless of the charges you face, you should reach out to our Atlantic County criminal defense lawyers for assistance.
Fighting Charges with an Atlantic County Criminal Defense Attorney
There are many different ways you can fight your criminal charges. One option is going to trial. A defendant facing charges involving crimes in Atlantic County is guaranteed a jury trial if they so choose. However, defendants dealing with disorderly persons offenses do not have such a right as their charges are technically not crimes under New Jersey law. At trial, we can present evidence demonstrating that you are not guilty, and hopefully, we can get an acquittal.
Another approach would be to acknowledge that you did in fact commit the crime; however, your actions were a result of circumstances that absolve you of responsibility. For example, self-defense or duress are defenses in which you admit you committed the crime, but you may have had no other choice.
It is important to keep track of the police investigation into your case and the actions of law enforcement and the prosecutor. If they do something to break the rules or infringe on your rights, we can use that as a defense. Invalid warrants and constitutional violations, for example, can strengthen our case or even result in your charges being dismissed. Our skilled Atlantic County criminal defense lawyers can analyze your case and determine what defense strategy will be the most effective.
How Can I Avoid a Criminal Trial in Atlantic County?
Not every case will end in a trial. Sometimes, law enforcement realizes their investigation led to the wrong suspect and they may simply drop your charges. However, this is not typical and happens more often on TV than in real life. More commonly, defendants avoid trial by accepting a plea deal from prosecutors.
A plea deal, sometimes called a plea bargain or a plea agreement, is an offer from the prosecutor to reduce the defendant’s charges in exchange for a guilty plea. This way, both parties avoid a costly and time-consuming trial, the prosecution secures a conviction, and the defendant serves a smaller sentence. Plea agreements are not required and may be negotiated. Our Atlantic County criminal defense lawyers can help you fight your charges at trial or negotiate the best plea deal for your case.
Potential Dangers of Talking to the Police Without a Lawyer After Your Arrest in Atlantic County
You should not wait to seek assistance from our criminal defense attorneys after being arrested in Atlantic County. There are multiple ways that a defendant’s interests can be harmed by speaking to the police without legal representation present.
Risk of Self-Incrimination
Engaging in conversations with the police without legal representation exposes individuals to the danger of self-incrimination. Statements made without the guidance of a lawyer may be misconstrued or manipulated, potentially harming the individual’s defense.
Vulnerability to Coercive Tactics
The absence of legal representation also leaves individuals susceptible to coercive tactics employed by the police during interrogations. Without a lawyer present, there may be a heightened risk of involuntary or uninformed statements, undermining the individual’s ability to mount a robust defense.
Risk of Inconsistent Statements
Additionally, speaking to the police without a lawyer may lead to unintentional inconsistencies in statements. Without legal guidance, individuals may provide different accounts of events over time. These inconsistencies could be used against them to cast doubt on their credibility during legal proceedings.
Misinterpretation of Intent
In the absence of legal representation, there is a heightened risk of the police misinterpreting an individual’s intentions or motives behind certain statements. Fortunately, our team can help clarify and contextualize statements to prevent misunderstandings that may negatively impact a defendant’s case.
Complexity of the Legal System
Finally, navigating the intricacies of the legal system without guidance from our team can be highly complicated. Our legal professionals can play a crucial role in interpreting legal language, advising on the implications of statements, and ensuring that an individual’s rights are protected throughout the process of building their defense.
Common Areas Where People Are Arrested in Atlantic County, NJ
There are various types of criminal charges that you can face in New Jersey. In Atlantic County, there are certain areas where specific types of arrests are more common.
Boardwalk and Entertainment District – Ventnor City and Margate City
In the lively Boardwalk and Entertainment Districts of Ventnor City and Margate City in Atlantic County, NJ, arrests frequently involve disorderly conduct, public intoxication, and disturbances. These areas boast vibrant nightlife and numerous entertainment venues, drawing large crowds. The combination of diverse events and celebrations often leads to a higher incidence of altercations, contributing to arrests for offenses related to public disturbances. Local law enforcement remains vigilant in maintaining order to ensure the safety of both residents and tourists in these bustling coastal communities.
Casinos and Gaming Establishments – Pleasantville and Egg Harbor Township
Within Atlantic County, Pleasantville and Egg Harbor Township are notable for their concentration of casinos and gaming establishments. Common arrests in these areas often pertain to gambling-related offenses, such as cheating and fraudulent activities. Law enforcement focuses on upholding the integrity of gaming operations, leading to arrests for activities that compromise the fairness and legality of gambling. Additionally, the close proximity of people in crowded casino environments can contribute to offenses like theft and fraud, resulting in increased arrests.
Drug-Related Offenses in Galloway Township
Galloway Township, a residential area in Atlantic County, frequently sees arrests related to drug offenses, including possession and distribution. The township’s location, with its proximity to major transportation routes, can make it a hub for drug trafficking. Law enforcement in Galloway Township is actively engaged in combating the illegal drug trade, leading to arrests in residential neighborhoods where such activities may be discreetly conducted.
Traffic Violations on Major Highways in Hamilton Township
Hamilton Township, situated along the major highways in Atlantic County, including the Atlantic City Expressway, is a hotspot for arrests related to traffic violations. Law enforcement in Hamilton Township diligently monitors these routes for speeding, reckless driving, and driving under the influence. The high volume of traffic, particularly during peak tourism seasons, contributes to a greater likelihood of individuals committing traffic offenses and being arrested.
Having Your Criminal Record Expunged in Atlantic County, NJ
Expungement is a legal process that allows individuals with certain criminal convictions to petition the court to have their records sealed from public view. If approved, the court issues an expungement order, directing relevant agencies to update or remove records related to the specified convictions. The following is an outline of the general process for having your record expunged in Atlantic County:
Before initiating the expungement process in New Jersey, it is essential to determine eligibility. Certain offenses, such as serious crimes or those involving violence, are typically not eligible for expungement. Consulting with legal representation is crucial at this stage to assess eligibility based on the specific circumstances of the case.
Filing a Petition for Expungement
The first step in the expungement process involves filing a formal petition with the court. This petition outlines details such as the individual’s personal information, details of the offense, and any related court dispositions. Thankfully, our legal professionals can assist in preparing and submitting a petition to the Superior Court in the county where the conviction occurred.
Notifying Relevant Agencies
After filing the petition, our attorneys will then notify relevant agencies, including law enforcement, the prosecutor’s office, and other entities involved in the case. These agencies have the opportunity to object to the expungement if they believe it is not in the public interest.
Court Review and Hearing
The court will review the expungement petition and may schedule a hearing to consider the request. During the hearing, the individual seeking expungement, represented by their criminal defense lawyer, may present arguments supporting the request. The court will evaluate factors such as the nature of the offense, the individual’s criminal history, and their rehabilitation efforts.
Issuance of Expungement Order
If the court approves the expungement, an expungement order will be issued. This order directs relevant agencies to expunge the records related to the conviction. It is important to note that the expungement process does not erase all records, but rather seals them from public view.
Updating Record Repositories
Following the issuance of the expungement order, our legal team will work with record repositories, such as the New Jersey State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), to update and remove the specified records from their databases.
Notification to Agencies and Entities
Lastly, our lawyers can ensure that all relevant agencies and entities are informed of the expungement to facilitate the removal of records from their databases. This step is crucial to fully realize the benefits of expungement and ensure a clean slate for the individual.
Call Our Atlantic County Criminal Defense Attorneys for Help with Your Case
Call our criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych by dialing (609) 616-4956 for a free case evaluation.