Each summer and even throughout the whole year, folks from throughout New Jersey and the surrounding states flock to Wildwood and North Wildwood for fun and relaxation. While most have a great time enjoying the bars and beaches, if you end up having a bad night and getting arrested, your dream vacation can quickly turn into a nightmare scenario. You may feel helpless and unsure of what to do, especially if you are not a local or familiar with the area, and especially if you have never had any serious contact with the police or criminal justice system before. However, there are steps you can take right away to protect your rights and future.
Common criminal charges along Wildwood’s beaches and tourist-friendly areas often include offenses related to fighting, intoxication, DUIs, and more. If you are from outside New Jersey, you may have to return to New Jersey to deal with your charges, no matter how far. This can be very inconvenient, especially if you live very far from Wildwood. Not only should you hire a lawyer to help you, but you should hire a lawyer local to the Wildwood area.
The most important thing you can do is to reach out to a veteran North Wildwood criminal defense lawyer like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych as soon as possible after the arrest occurs. The quicker we get to work on your case, the better chance we have of getting your charges downgraded or dismissed and bringing the matter to the most positive possible resolution. Call the Law Offices of John J. Zarych today at (609) 616-4981 for a free consultation.
When Should You Contact an Attorney for Your Wildwood, NJ Case?
In some cases for minor crimes like traffic violations, the police officer may simply issue you a citation with a court date on it and you will not be detained. If this happens to you, by reaching out to a skilled North Wildwood criminal defense lawyer like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych as soon as possible, you give us a chance to reach out to the prosecutor and try to get the matter resolved in a single court appearance. It is never a good idea to throw such a citation aside and wait to act, because, if you forget about it and fail to appear in court as required, you could end up facing a bench warrant for your arrest.
Usually when the police believe you have committed a crime, they will place you under arrest and transport you to the nearest Wildwood police station for the booking process, where they will photograph and fingerprint you and collect your biographical information. Within 48 hours of booking, but usually sooner, your initial appearance and detention hearing will be held. As such, it is vital that you or a loved one reach out to a battle-tested criminal defense attorney as soon after your arrest as possible.
You will certainly want a lawyer for these proceedings, especially the detention hearing, where a judge will decide based on a series of holistic factors whether you represent a danger to the public and must remain in jail while your case is resolved. A skilled detention hearing attorney like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych will know how to make the most persuasive case for your release without any cumbersome conditions like GPS ankle monitoring. Call our Wildwood, New Jersey criminal defense lawyers today to get help fighting your charges.
Building a Defense Against Criminal Charges in Wildwood, NJ
Once we have dealt with getting you released from jail, we will turn our attention to requesting any outstanding evidence and filing any relevant motions like a motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of an illegal search and seizure. If you have been charged with a disorderly persons offense, your arraignment, where you are asked to enter an initial plea of guilty or not guilty, will occur at your initial appearance. For indictable offenses, your arraignment will not occur until after the prosecutor has received an indictment back from the grand jury. In either case, our skilled Wildwood criminal defense attorneys for a criminal arraignment at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych are likely to advise you to enter a not guilty plea while we assess the strength of your case and try to negotiate a deal with the prosecutor to get the charges downgraded or dismissed.
If you are a first-time offender, we may be able to convince the prosecutor to allow you into a pre-trial intervention program, which will result in your charges being dropped if completed successfully. Other potential deals include the prosecutor agreeing to recommend a light sentence to the judge or downgrading the charges to something less serious is exchange for your guilty plea. Of course, if you do not wish to take a deal or are not satisfied with the deal offered, our veteran Wildwood criminal attorneys at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych are already ready and able to defend your innocence in the courtroom. Note that trials for disorderly persons cases take place in the municipal court in front of a single judge who decides guilt or innocence, while those charged with indictable offenses have the right to a jury before their peers, who must unanimously vote to convict.
Talking to the Police with an Attorney in Wildwood, New Jersey
If you are arrested for a crime in Wildwood, New Jersey, you will likely be taken to the nearest police station to be detained and possibly questioned. Questions from the police after an arrest are typical, and you should not feel panicked or intimidated. However, the police can be scary to deal with, and you may feel pressured to comply with all their requests even though you do not have to. This is why you must call a lawyer as soon as you can after being arrested. Our Wildwood, New Jersey criminal defense lawyers can assert your rights and protect you when you are taken into the custody of law enforcement.
When the authorities question you after your arrest, they must go over your Miranda Rights. These rights serve to protect you from the power of the government and law enforcement when you are in custody. Among these rights are your right to have a lawyer by your side and the right to remain silent.
The police may want you to answer questions about your alleged criminal offense, but you do not have to say anything until you have a lawyer present. Even with a lawyer by your side, you can invoke your right to silence and say nothing at all. A lawyer will be able to help you determine the best course of action. Agreeing to talk to the police without the guidance of an attorney is a great way to set yourself up for self-incrimination. Our Wildwood, New Jersey criminal defense lawyers are here to protect you.
Criminal Penalties in Wildwood, New Jersey
In New Jersey, criminal offenses tend to fall into two broad categories: disorderly persons offenses and indictable crimes. These categories are similar to misdemeanors and felonies, respectively. The penalties for disorderly persons offenses tend to be more minor than for indictable crimes. However, both types of charges will be reflected in your criminal record.
Disorderly persons offenses are often punished with jail terms of up to 6 months. Even lesser offenses, known as petty disorderly persons offenses, are only punishable by up to 30 days in jail. For these charges, it may be easier to negotiate a penalty that does not involve any jail time at all. Our Wildwood, New Jersey criminal defense lawyers can guide you through that process.
Indictable crimes are more severe and include more violent crimes. Crimes are broken down even further into different degrees of seriousness. A fourth-degree crime, the least serious, is punishable by up to 18 months in prison. A third-degree crime may be penalized with a prison term of at least 3 years but no more than 5 years. For second-degree crime, you could be sentenced to a prison term of at least 5 years but no longer than 10 years. Finally, first-degree crimes, the most serious offenses, are punishable by at least 10 years in prison and no more than 20.
You may face a single criminal charge or multiple charges for both crimes and disorderly persons offenses. Whatever you are facing, call our Wildwood, New Jersey criminal defense lawyers for help. We are here to protect your rights and fight your charges.
Criminal Charges for Out-of-State Tourists in Wildwood, New Jersey
Being charged with a crime in New Jersey becomes very complicated when you are a tourist visiting from another state. Although it may be tempting, you cannot flee the state in the hopes of outrunning your criminal charges. If you try to do so, you may end up being extradited back to New Jersey by law enforcement officials from your home state.
Depending on the nature and severity of your charges, you may be able to hire a local attorney to handle some parts of your case in your absence. This can be helpful to defendants who not only live out-of-state, but in a state very far away. Keep in mind, there are certain hearings and proceedings that you must be present for. You must be present to do things like enter a plea and be arraigned. Additionally, if you are found guilty, you must be present for the sentencing.
Speak to our Wildwood, New Jersey criminal defense lawyers about conducting hearings in your absence. It is possible that you may only have to return to New Jersey once or twice to handle your charges. However, this might not be the case if you are charged with a more serious violent offense.
Negotiating a Plea Agreement for Criminal Charges in Wildwood, New Jersey
Not every case ends in a trial and a jury verdict. In fact, most cases are resolved before ever getting to a trial. Plea agreements or plea bargains are standard throughout the criminal justice field and happen in very serious and minor cases. A plea agreement is like a deal between the prosecutor and the defendant. The prosecutor agrees to drop or reduce charges and, in exchange, the defendant agrees to enter a guilty plea.
Plea agreements are useful because they allow a defendant to avoid harsher penalties and serve a lighter sentence than they would if found guilty at a trial. Plea agreements are great options for defendants with very weak cases or for those who do not wish to fight their charges and only want to get things over with.
Plea agreements are not one-size-fits-all arrangements. They often go through intense negotiations before both parties agree on an outcome. If a prosecutor offers you an unfavorable deal, your attorney can make a counteroffer for something better. You also do not have to accept a plea deal and may opt for a trial instead.
Anyone can take advantage of plea agreements, but these can be a very viable option for out-of-state defendants who simply want to finish their case and go home. You can even serve your sentence from your home state. However, you will have to return to New Jersey to accept the deal and enter your guilty plea. Our Wildwood, New Jersey criminal defense lawyers can help you negotiate the best possible plea deal for your case.
If You were Arrested in Wildwood, Our Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help
Being arrested or cited for a crime is never an easy or fun experience, but it can be made better if you take the steps you need to protect yourself and mitigate the damage already caused. The most important thing you can do is to reach out to a skilled Wildwood, New Jersey criminal defense attorney like those at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych. For a free consultation, call our firm today at (609) 616-4981.