In New Jersey, criminal charges are not imposed as felonies or misdemeanors. Instead, offenses that would be misdemeanors in other states are called “disorderly persons offenses,” and offenses that would be felonies are instead referred to as “indictable crimes” or simply “crimes.” Even lesser offenses, sometimes called infractions in other jurisdictions, are called “petty disorderly persons offenses” in New Jersey. When a person is charged with a lesser offense, like a misdemeanor or disorderly persons offense, they might be inclined to disregard it as unimportant. However, these charges are very significant and often require the assistance of an attorney.
You might need a lawyer to handle your misdemeanor charges or disorderly persons offenses because, even if the penalties are relatively small, they will be permanently reflected in your criminal record. This means sentencing on any future criminal convictions could be made worse because you have been convicted previously. Also, multiple convictions for several small disorderly persons offenses can quickly add up to years in jail and thousands of dollars in fines.
If you have been charged with a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey, you should contact an attorney right away. Do not think your charges are no big deal. Our Atlantic City criminal defense attorneys can help you handle your charges and hopefully avoid a criminal record. Set up a free legal consultation at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych. Call (609) 616-4956 to get help today.
Do I Need an Attorney for My Misdemeanor Charges in NJ?
Ultimately, deciding whether to hire an attorney or handle your case alone is up to you. However, handling your case with no legal assistance will be extremely difficult. The substantive knowledge and legal procedures involved in any criminal case are incredibly complex. The average person might not be equipped to deal with their own criminal charges.
Hiring an attorney is perhaps the smartest decision you can make when dealing with criminal charges. At first glance, your disorderly persons offenses or misdemeanor charges may seem insignificant. Sometimes, these charges result in very little jail time or less costly fines. However, multiple charges can add up to significant penalties very quickly. Additionally, a conviction would mean the charges are reflected in your criminal record forever.
A criminal record, even just disorderly persons offenses, can negatively impact your ability to find work or take advantage of other opportunities. A lawyer can help you reduce your charges or fight them to avoid having any criminal record at all. Call our New Jersey criminal defense lawyers to get started fighting your misdemeanor charges.
How an Attorney Can Help Me with My Misdemeanor Charges in NJ
An attorney could help your case in a number of very important ways. First, your attorney can help you fight your charges and work toward a verdict of not guilty. Such an undertaking would require gathering evidence, identifying witnesses, and learning how the law applies to your charges. Your lawyer will be specially trained in handling a criminal case and can help you effectively challenge your case.
Second, if fighting your charges is not the best decision for your case, your lawyer can help you negotiate a favorable plea bargain. A plea bargain, sometimes called a plea deal or plea agreement, is like an arrangement between you and the prosecutor. You agree to enter a guilty plea and waive your right to a trial and, in exchange, the prosecutor will reduce your charges, so you end up with a lighter sentence.
In cases of misdemeanors or disorderly persons offenses, lesser charges could allow you to avoid jail time completely and only pay fines or serve probation. Plea bargains are not always guaranteed, and prosecutors will often try to convince you to accept terms that are not very favorable. Our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys will know how to get you the best deal possible.
Third, there are multiple steps in a criminal case that come before a trial. An attorney can help you with things like bail hearings. Having a lawyer present at your bail hearing can mean the difference between going home that day or waiting in jail until your trial is over, which could take weeks or months.
Fourth, an attorney can help you file an appeal if you are convicted. Try as we might, sometimes trials cannot be won, and defendants are convicted. Convicted defendants have the right to file an appeal and have their case reviewed by a higher court for legal errors. A lawyer can help you identify legal errors from your trial that might help you on appeal. Call our Ocean City criminal defense lawyers for help today.
Possible Penalties for Misdemeanors in NJ
Attorneys can be a great advantage in cases involving misdemeanors. Misdemeanors are often less serious, and courts and prosecutors are more willing to show leniency to defendants if they play their cards right. Our New Jersey criminal defense attorneys can help you fight your misdemeanor charges.
The penalties for disorderly persons offenses, the equivalent of misdemeanors, is jail time of no more than 6 months and fines of up to $1,000. For petty disorderly persons offenses, jail time may only be imposed up to 30 days, and fines can be no greater than $500.
While these penalties seem relatively minor, they can add up very quickly. If you are charged and convicted with three disorderly persons offenses, you could potentially spend 18 months in jail and pay $3,000 in fines. It is best to have an attorney by your side who can help you fight or, at the very least, reduce charges, so your penalties are less severe.
Your record may also be used against you if you are ever sentenced for a criminal conviction in the future. For some charges, a sentence may be increased if the defendant has a lengthy criminal record. The more charges you have on your record, the worse your situation could be. You might also be less likely to receive alternative sentencing options, like probation, if you have a long record.
Call Our NJ Misdemeanor Criminal Defense Attorneys for Help
If you have been charged with a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey, you could be in bigger trouble than you think. Contact our Sea Isle City criminal defense lawyers for help challenging your case. Set up a free legal consultation at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych. Call (609) 616-4956 to get started with our team.