Cape May County, NJ Criminal Defense Lawyer

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    Being charged with a crime is always a stressful and frightening experience.  As a defendant or the loved one of a defendant, your mind is probably racing with questions about what you can expect in the days to come. It is completely natural to feel scared, confused, and overwhelmed as you and your loved ones confront this legal challenge – but you don’t have to face the situation alone.

    At the New Jersey Law Offices of John J. Zarych, our knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers have over 45 years of combined experience representing clients facing misdemeanor and felony charges throughout Cape May County, including but not limited to Ocean City, Dennis Township, Wildwood, Woodbine, Sea Isle City, Avalon, and Stone Harbor.  Our legal team will counsel and guide you through each and every stage of the legal process, and will fight vigorously to protect your rights and liberties.

    For a free and private consultation, call our Cape May criminal defense attorneys any time of day or evening.  You will not be charged any fees, and we will keep your information confidential. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today at (609) 616-4956.

    Should You Talk to the Police After Being Arrested in Cape May?

    Whether it is a good idea to talk to the police after being arrested is a very tricky question to answer. The police are very intimidating, and many arrested people feel compelled to speak even if they do not want to. However, always remember that you do not have to talk to the police. It is wise to wait until you have an attorney present before answering any questions from the police.

    After you are arrested, the police must read you your Miranda rights. Anyone who has seen a cop show or movie has probably heard these rights before. Your Miranda rights include your right to remain silent and your right to have an attorney present while the police question you. You will also be informed that anything you say to the police can be used against you.

    After you have been read your rights, you should invoke your rights to remain silent and have a lawyer by your side. When you invoke these rights, you must be very clear. Saying something like, “I think I might need an attorney,” will not trigger your right to a lawyer. Instead, try saying, “I want a lawyer right away.” The same goes for your right to remain silent; you must say in no uncertain terms that you will not answer any questions until you have a lawyer present.

    Your lawyer, once present, can help you answer police questions in a way that is less incriminating and protects your rights. This may mean having a lengthy conversation with the police. It could also mean answering no questions whatsoever. Your attorney will help you decide the best course of action.

    If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed to you free of charge. However, we recommend calling our Cape May criminal defense lawyers. Our legal team has the skills and experience necessary to fight your charges and protect you in your time of need.

    Will Getting a Lawyer Increase Your Chances of Getting the Charges Dismissed in Cape May?

    Dealing with any criminal charges is a challenging experience. Even trained attorneys may have a hard time handling a particular case. You are not legally required to be represented by a lawyer and you may choose to represent yourself instead. However, hiring a lawyer with the skills and knowledge necessary to navigate a trial will increase your chances of getting your charges dismissed.

    Not every case ends in a verdict of guilty or not guilty. In fact, most cases do not make it to a trial at all. Instead, many cases are resolved during pre-trial stages or through plea bargaining. Getting your charges dismissed takes effective legal strategy and know-how. Having a lawyer by your side will help you get your charges dismissed or reduced. Our Cape May criminal defense attorneys can help you fight your charges to the best of their ability.

    Can You Challenge the Circumstances Surrounding Your Arrest in Cape May?

    There are many different ways in which a defendant may challenge the case against them. One such way is to challenge the circumstances surrounding your arrest. Arrests are performed by authorized law enforcement and must follow strict legal procedures to be valid. An invalid arrest could be grounds to invalidate evidence and information seized under that arrest.

    First, the police may only arrest you under specific conditions. The police usually need an arrest warrant before taking someone into custody. The arrest warrant is issued by an impartial judge or magistrate and must be based on probable cause that the person being arrested has likely committed a crime. Once the police have a valid warrant in hand, they may arrest you right away. Arrests executed under faulty or invalid warrants may provide grounds to challenge the arrest.

    The police can sometimes arrest people without a warrant, but only under specific circumstances. Usually, a warrant is unnecessary if the police witness the crime as it happens or see a suspect flee a crime scene. Arrests in such cases do not need warrants because the suspect could flee and never be found in the time it takes for police to obtain a warrant. Suspects may also be armed or dangerous and need to be apprehended immediately out of concern for public safety. However, an arrest without a warrant that does not meet the above criteria will be invalid.

    If you believe your arrest was invalid or occurred under shady circumstances, please call our Cape May criminal defense lawyers. We can review the details of your arrest and determine if your arrest can be challenged.

    Can You Challenge the Circumstances Surrounding a Search in Cape May?

    Searches, much like arrests, must often be made under a warrant. However, also like arrests, some searches may be conducted without a warrant. Challenging a search may be crucial to your case because searches are often significant sources of incriminating evidence that will be used against you at your trial.

    Search warrants must also be based on probable cause. The police need probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime will be found at the location they wish to search. This location is often the defendant’s home or place of work. However, search warrants are very specific and must identify the exact location to be searched and the evidence being sought. If a search warrant allows the police to search inside your home but makes no mention of the shed in your back yard, the police may not also search that shed.

    The police may sometimes conduct warrantless searches. For example, no warrant is necessary if the evidence is out in the open. However, the officer who seizes the evidence must be present lawfully. The police cannot enter your home without permission and seize evidence because it was out in the open on your dining room table. They must first have gained entrance to your home in a lawful manner, such as by consent of an occupant. Other warrantless searches include searches incident to lawful arrests, certain vehicle searches, and searches with your consent.

    Our Cape May criminal defense attorneys can help you identify illegally obtained evidence and prevent it from being used against you at trial.

    Can You Challenge Evidence Against You in Cape May?

    Challenging the evidence against you is another great way to mount a defense against your criminal charges. Evidence may be real, physical evidence, like drugs, weapons, clothing, or bodily fluids. Evidence may also be non-physical, like testimony or documented records. The nature of the evidence in your case will determine the best way to challenge that evidence.

    Evidence can be challenged by questioning the methods used to gather it. The police seize most evidence either under a search warrant or in a way that does not require a warrant. If the procedures used to gather evidence were unlawful or violated your rights, we may challenge that evidence and prevent it from being heard in court.

    Challenging the evidence often requires filing a suppression motion. This motion is like a request to the court to keep out specific evidence or suppress it because it was gathered unlawfully. Evidence can also be suppressed because it is unfairly prejudicial or is simply irrelevant. Contact our Cape May criminal defense attorneys to discuss how we can suppress the evidence in your case.

    Charges Our Cape May Criminal Defense Attorneys Can Handle

    Our legal team has decades of experience handling a wide variety of criminal matters on behalf of adult and juvenile clients in the Cape May area.  Whether you are being charged with a crime for the first time or wish to fight an existing sentence or conviction by going through the criminal appeals process, we are ready to provide aggressive and strategic legal support.  No matter how complex or serious the allegations against you may be, we are prepared to investigate the evidence and advocate for justice on your behalf.

    Our experienced Cape May criminal attorneys handle both state and federal crimes, including but not limited to the following matters:

    Drug Crimes

    We handle narcotics charges arising from a broad spectrum of controlled dangerous substances (CDS), including but not limited to marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, LSD, ecstasy, ketamine, psilocybin mushrooms, and prescription drugs such as OxyContin (Oxycodone) and Xanax (Alprazolam).

    • Cultivation
    • Manufacturing
    • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
    • Possession with Intent to Distribute (PWID)
    • Simple Possession
    • Transportation

    DUI and DWI

    If you were charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or were cited for DUI-related offenses such as refusing a breathalyzer test, contact our Cape May criminal defense lawyers.

    1. Breathalyzer Refusal
    2. DUI with Controlled Substances
    3. DUI with Injury
    4. DUI with Property Damage
    5. High BAC

    Sex Crimes

    Our Cape May defense attorneys have successfully represented clients that have been charged with sexual offenses such as sexual assault, rape, child pornography possession, and more.

    • Aggravated Criminal Sexual Contact
    • Aggravated Sexual Assault
    • Sexual Assault
    • Child Pornography Charges
    • Criminal Sexual Contact
    • Luring or Enticing a Child
    • Rape

    Theft Charges

    We can help you or a loved one avoid penalties for theft charges like burglary, shoplifting, and more.

    • Burglary
    • Carjacking (Automotive Theft)
    • Retail Theft (Shoplifting)
    • Robbery
    • Tax Fraud

    Violent Crimes

    Do not face violent crime charges on your own. Our Cape May criminal attorneys can work to get your charges lowered or dismissed so that you can protect your future. We represent defendants charged with any of the following in Cape May:

    • Aggravated Assault
    • Assault by Auto
    • Domestic Violence Charges
    • Simple Assault

    Weapons Crimes

    Fighting for your right to bear arms is a case our criminal defense attorneys don’t back down from. If you or a loved one was charged with illegal gun possession or unlawful firing of a weapon, contact us today.

    • Gun Possession
    • Theft of Firearms
    • Unlawful Discharge of a Firearm
    • Unlawful Possession of Weapons

    The Tiers of Criminal Charges in Cape May County

    In New Jersey, the path of your case will depend significantly on the nature of your charges. Some charges are minimal and the penalties small. Other charges are quite serious, and the penalties can be severe and long-lasting. New Jersey breaks criminal offenses down into three broad categories: crimes, disorderly persons offenses, and petty disorderly persons offenses.


    Crimes are regarded as serious offenses and are punishable by jail or prison terms. The category of crimes is divided into subcategories based on the severity of the offense. These subcategories include first, second, third, and fourth-degree crimes. Fourth-degree crimes are the least serious and carry the lightest penalties, while first-degree crimes are the most severe and have very harsh penalties.

    A fourth-degree crime can be punished by no more than 18 months in prison. A third-degree crime carries penalties from at least 3 years but no more than 5 years in prison. A second-degree crime is punishable by a prison term of no less than 5 years but no more than 10 years. Finally, a first-degree crime can be punished by at least 10 years in prison but no more than 20 years. While most crimes will fit into this system of penalties, some of the more serious crimes, like murder, may carry different ranges of punishments that can go beyond the terms listed above. Our Cape May County criminal defense attorney can help you make sense of your charges and understand the potential penalties.

    Disorderly Person Offenses

    Disorderly persons offenses are less severe than crimes in Cape May County. These kinds of offenses may be punished by no more than 6 months in jail. The exact time served will be determined by the judge at your sentencing. Included within disorderly persons offenses are even lesser violations known as petty disorderly persons offenses. These offenses can also be punished with jail time, but no more than 30 days. Disorderly persons offenses and petty disorderly persons offenses are not considered “crimes” in New Jersey and so defendants do not have the same trial rights they would under different circumstances. A defendant charged with a disorderly persons offense has no right to a grand jury nor a right to a trial by jury. These offenses are relatively minor and are punished more often by fines than jail time. No matter how severe or minor your charges may be, our Cape May County criminal defense attorneys are here to help.

    Petty Disorderly Persons Offenses

    Petty disorderly persons offenses are even less serious than disorderly persons offenses. Much like their above-mentioned counterpart, petty disorderly offenses are not considered “crimes” and defendants do not have typical trial rights under these charges. Petty disorderly persons offenses are most often punished with fines. They are rarely punished with jail time. Common examples of these kinds of offenses are minor traffic violations, jaywalking, or littering. Many of these offenses are dealt with by issuing citations or tickets.

    Criminal Penalties, Fines, and Sentences for Cape May Crimes

    Most jurisdictions refer to criminal offenses as misdemeanors and felonies.  However, New Jersey uses slightly different terminology.  Misdemeanor-level crimes are referred to as “disorderly persons (DP) offenses” or “petty disorderly persons offenses,” while serious felonies are known as “indictable crimes.”

    While the language may be different, the consequences of a conviction are the same: costly fines and restitution, lengthy jail or prison sentences, and the creation of a lasting criminal record which will remain accessible to potential employers, landlords, and lenders unless the offender is able to seal the record by obtaining an expungement.  Furthermore, certain persons may be subject to offense-specific penalties.  For example, a defendant convicted of DUI may have to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in their personal vehicle, while a defendant convicted of sex crimes may be required to register as a sex offender.

    Some offenses have the potential to be categorized in different ways depending on the presence of aggravating or mitigating factors.  Factors which can influence offense grading include the degree of injury to the victim, the use or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, the age of the victim, the defendant’s record of prior offenses, and whether a child was present during the commission of the alleged offense.  For example, aggravated assault has the potential to be categorized as an indictable crime of the second, third, or fourth degree in accordance with N.J.S.A. § 2C:12-1.

    Our Cape May Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help if You Were Arrested

    If you’ve been charged with a crime in Cape May, or if one of your loved ones was arrested in Southern New Jersey, the penalties can be severe.  You could lose your career, your hard-earned reputation, and even your freedom itself. Our Cape May criminal defense attorneys are here to help. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych at (609) 616-4956 today to schedule your free legal consultation.

    Cape May Criminal Defense Lawyer Referrals

    When to Refer a Case in Cape May County NJ

    Clients often present their attorneys with complicated problems that touch on several different legal issues. A client who wants to divorce their spouse may also mention their soon-to-be ex-spouse would physically abuse them. The client’s divorce may be a family law issue, but the abuse must be reported to the police for criminal prosecution. Our office is open to referrals of clients whose cases have criminal implications. If you do not have the skills, knowledge, or experience to zealously advocate for your client and represent them to the best of your abilities, consider referring them to our criminal defense lawyer for Cape May County, NJ referrals.

    As attorneys, we have a duty to provide our clients with adequate representation. We also have a duty to advocate for our client’s best interests zealously. These duties may become impossible to satisfy if a client has needs beyond our capabilities. A lawyer who practices personal injury law might not have the skills necessary to represent their client in criminal court as well. Our office has an experienced team of criminal defense attorneys who are willing to take on referrals.

    Types of Cases to Refer to Our Criminal Defense Lawyer

    Criminal law can affect cases in any field of law. Clients who need representation in a civil lawsuit may also need representation in a related criminal matter. Criminal and civil issues are often intertwined and overlap quite a bit. The injuries and damages in a civil case are often tied to criminal offenses. For example, someone may sue your client for under a wrongful death claim as a result of a car accident. Your client may also face criminal charges for vehicular homicide from the same accident. Our office handles a wide variety of criminal matters and we are more than capable of taking referrals. Some of our practice areas include, but are not limited to…

    • Assault
    • Offenses in casinos
    • Disorderly conduct
    • Drug offenses
    • DUIs or DWIs
    • White collar offenses
    • Homicide
    • Cybercrimes
    • Probation violations
    • Juvenile offenses
    • Sex offenses
    • Weapons charges
    • Offenses against property
    • Traffic violations
    • Underage drinking

    If you have a client who could potentially be criminally prosecuted for their actions, please refer them to our criminal defense attorney for Cape May County NJ referrals. We are more than capable of helping clients navigate the criminal justice process.

    Referral Agreements in Cape May County NJ

    When a client is referred to a new attorney, naturally the question of attorney’s fees comes up. In New Jersey, as of 2020, the Rules of Professional Conduct states that lawyers are in fact permitted to share fees. However, certain conditions must be met.

    First, the division of fees between the attorneys must be proportional to the services provided by each attorney. If one attorney does more work for the client, that attorney must receive a larger share of the overall fee. However, the attorneys may share joint responsibility for representation if the client is notified of how fees will be divided, consents to the joint representation, and the overall fee is reasonable.

    However, any fee agreement must also adhere to other ethical rules. An attorney representing a defendant in a criminal matter cannot charge a contingency fee. Similarly, clients with matters relating to domestic relations cannot be made to pay a contingency fee. Because our office practices criminal defense, any fee sharing between attorneys must adhere to this rule. Any fee arrangements must be discussed prior to referring the client to our office. Please reach out to our criminal defense attorney for Cape May County NJ referrals to discuss fee sharing.

    Call Our Criminal Defense Lawyers in Cape May County NJ for a Referral

    Sometimes it is just not possible to handle every aspect of a client’s case. A case you thought was within your wheelhouse might actually become tangled up in criminal law. If you find yourself with a client whose needs are outside your areas of practice, please refer them to the Law Offices of John J. Zarych. Reach out online or call (609) 616-4956 to discuss referrals with our criminal defense attorneys for Cape May County NJ referrals.

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