People vacation at New Jersey’s beaches every year. Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a fun vacation turns into a legal nightmare for some out-of-state tourists. Perhaps you had a bit too much to drink before getting behind the wheel, or maybe you got into a fight at a local bar. Out-of-state visitors charged with criminal offenses in New Jersey often wonder how they will face their charges in a state they do not live in.
Getting charged with a crime in New Jersey means that you need to face the charges in court in New Jersey. Each county in the state has the power to enforce NJ state laws, and local courthouses have jurisdiction over laws committed in their area. That means that if you commit a crime in Atlantic County, you will have to face the charges in the Atlantic County Courthouse, even if you live in another state.
If you are an out-of-state resident who was charged with a crime in New Jersey, contact a New Jersey criminal defense attorney today. The Law Offices of John J. Zarych’s criminal defense lawyers for out-of-state residents offer free legal consultations to help you understand your charges and why you should hire a local lawyer to handle your case. To schedule your free consultation, call our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.
Can You Hire an Out of State Lawyer in New Jersey?
It is important that you look at your lawyer’s qualifications and credentials before hiring them to represent you on your criminal charges. Every state independently certifies attorneys, and if a lawyer is not certified to practice in that state, they cannot represent clients before a court. If you are from Pennsylvania or New York – or any other state – you may not hire an attorney at home to represent you in New Jersey unless they are also certified to practice in NJ.
Hiring a lawyer local to New Jersey is also more advantageous as they will be more familiar with New Jersey law and local court rules and regulations. Even if your attorney from your home state is licensed to practice in New Jersey, they may not be familiar with local judges and court rules. A New Jersey lawyer will be able to help you more efficiently because they will not have to study or familiarize themselves with local regulations.
The Wildwood criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych are practicing attorneys in New Jersey that are certified to handle criminal cases in both state and federal court. If you were charged with a crime in NJ, our lawyers may be able to take your case and represent you before a court even if you live in another state. Call our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys for out-of-state offenders right away.
Should I Hire a Lawyer in New Jersey for Charges While on Vacation?
If you were charged with a crime while you were visiting the Jersey Shore, Atlantic City, or anywhere else in New Jersey, your criminal case must be addressed in New Jersey, and any potential penalties you face could be carried out there as well. That means that if you are sentenced to jail or prison time, you will have to serve that time in New Jersey. It is vital to hire an attorney to represent you to fight the charges and potentially avoid jail time.
New Jersey crimes are classified as either an “indictable crime” (similar to a felony) or a “disorderly persons offense” (similar to a misdemeanor). All of these crimes carry the potential of jail time with the lowest offense carrying up to 6 months in jail. More minor offenses, such as violations of local ordinances, may also carry jail time, typically up to 30 days.
Many people charged with crimes end up pleading guilty to the offense in order to accept reduced jail time or to avoid jail time. If you plead guilty to the offense, you may still face some jail time, high fines, and other consequences. It is important to talk to an attorney for guidance on your case and to avoid pleading guilty to a crime just to end the case quickly. With the added pressure of having to travel to address your charges, you may be tempted to simply plead guilty, but this may impact your freedoms and rights.
For help with your case, contact our Cape May criminal defense attorneys for out-of-state defendants. We can help you fight your charges so you can go back home.
Common Charges in New Jersey
Some of the most commonly charged crimes in New Jersey are minor crimes. Still, these offenses can carry severe penalties including up to 6 months in jail and fines up to either $500 or $1,000. These minor criminal charges include crimes such as the following:
- Disorderly conduct
- Possession of a small amount of marijuana
More serious offenses can lead to increased jail time or other penalties such as a license suspension. Drunk driving charges, for instance, can lead to jail time and a suspended license. When your driving privileges are revoked in New Jersey, your home state will often suspend your drivers’ license as well. Other charges for sexual assault, aggravated assault, high-value theft, burglary, robbery, and other serious offenses can lead to multiple years of jail time and fines in the thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In Atlantic City, many people are arrested each year for crimes that take place in a casino. Our casino crime lawyers can represent you on charges like assault in a casino, theft from a casino, and other offenses committed on the casino floor or in a casino hotel.
Appearing at Your New Jersey Criminal Hearings as an Out-of-State Defendant
Sometimes, defendants are required to appear in court for specific proceedings. Courts are often hesitant to hold certain hearings without the defendant as the defendant often has a right to be there. The defendant’s presence is not always necessary for other hearings, and their attorney can handle things in their absence. If you live outside of New Jersey but were charged in the state with a criminal offense, you may have to return to New Jersey to attend certain hearings. However, if you live very far away and cannot afford to stay for an extended period of time, or perhaps you cannot leave your family behind, you may be able to waive your appearance.
Whether you are required to attend all your hearings and proceedings may also depend on the nature of your charges. A defendant charged with serious felonies, known as indictable crimes in New Jersey, will likely have to attend most of their hearings. However, a defendant charged with a misdemeanor, or a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey, may waive their appearance.
You should remember that there are specific procedures that you cannot get out of. Generally, an initial appearance or arraignment is unavoidable and you must be present even if you would rather have your attorney handle it alone. Also, you must be present if you are entering a plea or being sentenced. If you would rather remain in your home state while your criminal trial takes place, talk to our Haddonfield criminal defense attorneys. We can help you figure out when you are required to appear and when you can stay home.
Extradition to New Jersey from Other States
When someone commits a crime in one state and then leaves that state, law enforcement officials across states will work together to return that person to the state in which they are charged. This process is referred to as extradition and all states, including New Jersey, have laws about how defendants can be extradited to and from other states. You cannot avoid a criminal trial simply by fleeing the state. In some cases, crossing state lines can even make your situation worse.
The extradition process usually begins shortly after you fail to show up for court. Once it becomes clear that you have fled the state, the prosecutor will submit a written application to the governor to issue a warrant for your extradition back to New Jersey. Once this warrant is issued, law enforcement in other jurisdictions will be able to detain you and send you back to New Jersey to stand trial.
There is not a lot you can do to fight extradition. It is possible to waive extradition and return to New Jersey of your own free will. Fighting extradition is difficult. You may be able to challenge the extradition if the offense you are being extradited for is not actually a crime. However, you cannot fight extradition simply by claiming you are not guilty. Guilt is determined at your trial, not during extradition.
If you were charged with a criminal offense in New Jersey and failed to show up for court because you returned to your home state, you might be faced with extradition proceedings. If this sounds like your situation, you must contact our Ocean City criminal defense lawyers immediately.
Sentencing in New Jersey for Out-of-State Defendants
You are required to appear for sentencing. If you are being sentenced, it, unfortunately, means you have been found guilty. Upon sentencing, you will be taken into custody if you are sentenced to any term of incarceration. Defendants who are sentenced to a probation term are usually required to remain within New Jersey unless they receive special permission.
For out-of-state residents, probation must be transferred to their home state from New Jersey. You must get approval from both states before being allowed to serve your probation in your home state. Generally, you have to prove you are not a New Jersey resident and that you live and work in another state. In such cases, a transfer may be mandatory. Such transfers are guided by the Interstate Commission for Adult Offender Supervision.
If you wish to transfer your probation to another state but you are not a resident of this new state, the transfer is discretionary and may not be granted. Usually, you would have to show that you have a better opportunity for success in the new state to be transferred. Better opportunities can include a new job or schooling opportunities.
If you are incarcerated due to your criminal charges in New Jersey, you may have to serve your time in a New Jersey prison or jail. However, it may be possible, by coordinating under the Interstate Corrections Compact, to serve your prison or jail term in your home state. Contact our New Jersey attorneys for out-of-state offenders to discuss how you can serve your sentence from your home state.
Call Our New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer if You Were Charged While on Vacation
If you or a loved one was charged with a crime while visiting New Jersey, it is important to seek representation from a South Jersey criminal defense lawyer. The Law Offices of John J. Zarych’s criminal lawyers for out of state residents offer free consultations to people who live outside of New Jersey but need help with criminal charges in the Garden State. To schedule a free legal consultation, contact our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.