The criminal justice system is very serious, and being accused of a crime – even a relatively minor one – can have huge impacts on your life. Even for relatively minor offenses, you can be arrested. Fines and court costs can be expensive. Potentials for jail time, or even forced supervision from probation and bail, puts serious constraints on your ability to freely travel, follow your own schedule, and do what you want to do. Your freedom is literally at stake when you are accused of a crime.
At our law firm, our team is experienced in handling a wide variety of criminal offenses around New Jersey in state and federal courts. We frequently appear in courts in South Jersey such as Mays Landing in Atlantic County, Cape May Courthouse in Cape May County, Atlantic City, Egg Harbor Township, Galloway Township, Hamilton Township, Pleasantville, Margate, Vineland, Camden, Mount Holly, Bridgeton, Toms River, Wildwood, Absecon and Somers Point.
Seek help from our experienced criminal defense attorneys by calling the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today at (609) 616-4956 to discuss your case for free.
Crimes or Indictable Crimes in New Jersey
In many states, crimes are classified as misdemeanors and felonies. However, in New Jersey, offenses that carry more severe potential sentences are deemed “crimes” or “indictable” offenses. These are offenses for which a convicted person can receive a New Jersey state prison sentence.
All of the attorneys at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych have a great deal of experience handling these serious crimes such as homicide, sexual assault, drug distribution, drug possession, theft, computer crimes, and gun charges. Arrests for these offenses will appear on your criminal record unless they are expunged, even if they are dismissed.
Different Categories of Indictable Crimes You Can Be Charged with in New Jersey
There are four different degrees of indictable crimes that you can be charged with in New Jersey. Each degree of crime carries different penalties along with it. Thankfully, our experienced criminal defense lawyers can help if you have been charged with any of the following:
First Degree Indictable Crimes
First degree indictable crimes are the most serious and carry the harshest penalties. Examples include murder, aggravated sexual assault, and armed robbery. If you are convicted of a first degree crime, then you may face 10 to 20 years in prison. Furthermore, you may have to pay a fine of up to $150,000.
Second Degree Indictable Crimes
Second degree indictable crimes are also serious offenses, but they generally carry slightly lesser penalties than first degree crimes. Examples of second degree crimes include aggravated arson, drug trafficking, and certain types of sexual assault. A conviction for a second degree crime may result in the assessment of a prison sentence 5 to 10 years. Also, fines for second degree crimes may cost up to $150,000.
Third Degree Indictable Crimes
Third degree indictable crimes are considered less severe than first and second degree crimes. Examples include theft of a substantial amount, possession of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) with intent to distribute, and certain types of assault. After being convicted of a third degree crime, you may have to spend 3 to 5 years in prison and pay a maximum fine of $15,000.
Fourth Degree Indictable Crimes
Finally, fourth degree indictable crimes are the least severe among the indictable offenses, but should still be considered serious. Examples of fourth degree crimes include stalking, certain types of theft, and possession of a controlled dangerous substance. Convictions for fourth degree crimes can result in imprisonment and fines. Prison sentences for fourth degree crimes can last up to 18 months and fines for such crimes can reach up to $10,000.
Disorderly Persons Offenses, Municipal Court Cases
Those offenses that carry less severe potential sentences are called “disorderly persons offenses,” “petty disorderly persons offenses” and “local ordinances.” The potential sentences for these offenses can still be significant and should be handled with caution.
Disorderly persons offense sentences such as possession of marijuana under 50 grams, possession of drug paraphernalia, shoplifting, theft of less than $200 and a first offense of engaging in prostitution, carry a potential sentence of up to six months in county jail and a $1,000 fine. Arrests for these offenses will appear on your criminal record, unless they are expunged, even if they are dismissed.
What to Expect in New Jersey Criminal Court
The court process is intimidating for many. While there is no way to predict what will happen in your individual situation, understanding what to expect in the court process can help alleviate some of the fear of the unknown.
In New Jersey, the criminal process typically begins when someone is charged with an offense, indicted by a grand jury or arrested. However, if you have not been charged with a crime, but have been asked to speak with police or have other indications that you are under investigation, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. This is a critical period in your case. Do not wait until you are charged. Do not speak with police without consulting an experienced defense attorney first.
After being charged with a crime, you will have an opportunity to go before a judge and enter your initial plea.
Bail is a sum of money that must be pledged as security for your release. Although the prosecution does not always request bail, bail is common for any crime where the judge may have concerns that you present either a flight risk or could be a danger to others. Factors, such as the seriousness of the offense and whether you have any history of failing to appear and your ties to the community may influence the amount of bail assigned.
Statute Conference/Plea Negotiations
In many cases the client and her attorney will appear in court for a series of Status conferences. Demands for discovery by the defense, pretrial motions and plea offers are addressed at these hearings. The prosecution will frequently offer a plea bargain, which is typically a reduced sentence or plea to a reduced charge in exchange for a guilty plea. Your lawyers will make recommendations about whether you should accept or reject the plea, but the ultimate decision about whether to plead or take you case to trial is yours alone to make.
The purpose pretrial conference is to ensure that a defendant understands the potential convictions and sentences if he is found guilty at trial, to determine that he is making a voluntary decision to reject any plea offer, to discuss any outstanding discovery and evidentiary issues, schedule the appearance of experts if needed and schedule pre-trial motions. After the pretrial has taken place, negotiations are closed and a case is set for trial.
If a plea deal or a dismissal has not been occurred, and you have elected to go to trial on the charges, a date for the trial will be set. The prosecution presents its cases before a jury or judge. A defendant is not required to testify at trial and his silence at trial cannot be used against him. Generally speaking, the defense attorneys will present opening statements, cross examine the State’s witnesses, often but not always, call defense witnesses, and make a closing argument.
Can You Handle a Case Without a Lawyer in New Jersey?
Technically, you can handle a case yourself – but it is not a good idea. If someone wants to represent themselves in court – called proceeding “pro se” – they are held to the same standards, rules, and deadlines that someone who has studied for three years in law school and passed the bar in New Jersey would be held to. That means they are responsible for knowing the Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rules of Evidence, courtroom etiquette, how to talk to a judge, how to talk to opposing counsel, how to receive discovery, how to file motions, and what to write in a motion.
What Does a Criminal Defense Attorney Do for You?
A criminal defense attorney is a protection between a defendant and authority. Police and prosecutors have the goal of putting people in jail and getting convictions, and judges are only there to make sure things are somewhat fair. Without a criminal defense attorney, there is no one else in your corner when you are accused of a crime. You might have family and friends to support you, but they are legally barred from helping in your defense; only an attorney is permitted to stand up for you.
Most crimes – especially common crimes like drug possession, driving while intoxicated, theft, etc. – are not especially unique. After a few years of practice, defense attorneys have seen that most cases follow a pattern and know how to handle them because they have handled similar cases before. This experience helps them identify holes in the case, missing proof, and where a plea deal is most effective.
Nearly every case that goes through the criminal justice system ends without a trial – but that does not mean they are simple. There are still deadlines, arguments to be made before a judge, motions to file, and requests to be made in every case. These require an attorney’s ability and experience to properly frame the issues, properly file documents, and make the right arguments. Attorneys also bring their knowledge of other cases and their outcomes to the table. Without an attorney, you miss out on most of these opportunities, and may lose your freedom because of it.
Not only does hiring an attorney put a trained, experienced professional in your corner, it takes the pressure off you. An attorney’s job encompasses advice, strategy, negotiation, education, and analysis – they provide a full service to clients. Without an attorney, this pressure is all on you.
Why Hiring a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney Matters
The best way of protecting your freedom and reputation is to have an experienced defense attorney by your side. Without an attorney to advocate for you, the prosecution holds the advantage because they have better knowledge of the law. You will also have no way of knowing whether the plea bargain offered by the prosecution is in your best interest to accept.
A skilled criminal defense attorney is your shield. Having an attorney to advocate for you gives you leverage, because your attorney will be able to assess the strength of the case against you. An attorney will thoroughly examine the facts of the case and look for any weaknesses in the case against you. She can conduct further investigation that tends to show you are innocent. An attorney will also be able to negotiate on your behalf and if necessary, fight for you at trial.
What You Can Expect from Us
At the Law Offices of John J. Zarych, you can count on our attorneys to provide you with a thorough examination of your case. If you retain our firm, we will review your case with you and make sure you understand the process. We will take the time to answer your questions and address any fears you may be having.
We will thoroughly research your case and present the strongest argument possible on your behalf. We never lose sight of the fact that your future is on the line. We are your advocates, every step of the way.
Examples of Cases Our Law Firm Can Handle
Our legal team can help the accused defend themselves against a wide range of various criminal charges. The following are only a few examples of the different types of cases our law firm can handle:
There are multiple types of assault you can be charged with in New Jersey. For instance, you may be charged with assault by auto, simple assault, and aggravated assault. The penalties for these crimes can be very serious. For instance, such penalties can include expensive fines, jail time, court-ordered community service, and counseling.
Drug Crime Cases
There are also many types of drug offenses that defendants are charged with. For example, you may be accused of transporting, possessing, selling or manufacturing drugs. The penalties for these offenses may vary. Typically, cases involving greater quantities of drugs will warrant more severe potential penalties.
Weapons Crime Cases
Our team can also help defend against accusations of weapons crimes. Defendants in New Jersey are regularly charged with criminal offenses such as concealment, illegal possession, and transportation of firearms. Further, charges like armed robbery, negligent discharge, and improper sale of guns are also common.
The regulations that pertain to gun ownership in New Jersey are very complex. Also, in 2023, the governor and state legislature have begun working on adding further restrictions. Still, many of these new laws are subject to legal challenges. It is very important that you have competent legal representation on your side when attempting to build your defense in a weapons crime case.
Unfortunately, a criminal record can prevent you from reaching certain life goals. For example, a criminal history may make it hard for you to land a job, find a house, or form social relationships. Thankfully, certain offenses on your record can be sealed from the public’s view. This is referred to as a record “expungement.” During your free case review, our legal team can explain whether you can have your record expunged.
Resisting Arrest Cases
Defendants can be charged with resisting arrest if they do not comply with police officers’ instructions or requests. There are many different forms of conduct that may be considered resisting arrest. For instance, you may be charged with such an offense if you hit an officer or pull away from them when they try to place handcuffs on you. Further, you may face charges for resisting arrest if you fail to pull over during a traffic stop or spit on an officer.
Drunk Driving Cases
If you drive drunk in New Jersey, then you may be charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). This is a very serious type of criminal offense that can carry multiple penalties along with it. For instance, in addition to facing fines and jail time, those who drive drunk may have their licenses suspended and be ordered to complete community service. Thankfully, if you have been accused of DWI, then our team can fight to have your charges reduced or dismissed.
If You Were Arrested in New Jersey, Our Attorneys Can Help
Get help from our experienced criminal defense lawyers by calling the Law Offices of John J. Zarych in Northfield, Atlantic City, Cape May Court House or Wildwood at (609) 616-4956.
We also serve Mays Landing, Toms River, Bridgeton, Brigantine, Ventnor, Egg Harbor City, Hammonton, Buena Vista Township, Hamilton Township, Galloway Township, Camden, Mount Holly, Salem and Vineland.
Lawyers are available seven days a week, including holidays.