New Law, Driving While Suspended, Reduction in Penalties

A provision harsh provision of the Driving While Suspended law was recently repealed by the NJ legislature. Under the former NSJA 39:3-40(g), if a defendant’s license was suspended for failure to pay surcharges, the statute called for an additional $3000 fine to be paid to and collected by the Motor Vehicle Commission. This fine was in addition to all others imposed.
The penalty took the form of a judgment against the defendant and remained as such until completely paid in full by the defendant. If you have been subjected to this penalty since January 16 of 2010, you should contact a New Jersey Municipal Court appeal lawyer who can make a motion for reconsideration on your behalf to relieve you of this significant financial burden.

Successful Defense of Uninsured Motorist, No Insurance, Summons, Ticket, Charge

After a long and hard-fought battle, I finally achieved the success I had hoped for in the Elizabeth Municipal Court. My client was convicted of Driving without insurance. After he was convicted, he was then charged again in a different municipality with driving without insurance and driving while suspended because of no insurance.

Driving without insurance and driving while suspended are enhanceable offenses, meaning  that each time you get caught, or if the underlying  suspension is for certain reason, such as no insurance, the penalties become much more harsh. In this case, my client was facing mandatory jail, and YEARS of suspension (at least two but likely more).

I went back and filed for post conviction relief in the Elizabeth Municipal Court on the grounds that the insurance company never properly canceled my client’s insurance. After months of litigation, the conviction was vacated, and the case was given a trial date. At the time of trial, the state could not meet its burden, and the case was dismissed.

As a result, my client is facing penalties as a first offender for no insurance in the second municipal court, and will not be facing the enhanced penalties for driving while suspended or revoked. We are preparing for trial, but the real the penalties have been substantially lessened by this victory in Elizabeth. I will post on this in the future.

Newark Juvenile, Minor, Child, Lawyer

Has your child been charged with a criminal or traffic offense. Are you underage and been accused of a crime or traffic violation. I am a Newark NJ Juvenile attorney and represent minors/juveniles facing both motor vehicle and criminal charges.

Under most circumstance, when a juvenile is charged with a criminal complaint, the case will be heard in the Superior Court, Family/Chancery division. REMEMBER, just because the defendant is underage does not mean that they will sweep it under the rug. ACTUALLY, it is the complete opposite. The court proceedings will be almost identical to regular adult related criminal court matters. The penalties for the crimes are the same, including jail, fines, etc. In many instances, if the young offender is charged with a serious offense, the state will ask for jail time.

Additionally, it is almost always mandatory that the minor be represented by counsel, meaning that the court will requires it. Most Newark related juvenile crimes will be venued in the Essex County Superior Court in the Wilentz Justice Complex on 212 Washington St. in Newark. The defendant appears before a regular judge, and faces seasoned prosecutors.

Many times, when I speak with parents or a minor who has just been served with a complaint/summons/warrant, I am asked if there is anyway to stop the process, meaning can I call the police and say it was misunderstanding, etc. The answer is no. Once the complaint has been filed, the wheels of justice begin to turn, and court dates will follow.

It is true that certain juvenile records are sealed even if convicted of an offense. But it is important to remember that those records can still be used by law enforcement and other government agencies in the future against that person in subsequent court proceedings. This is a frequently overlooked and important fact.

It is difficult to fully explain in a short article all the consequences, and all the procedures involved in a juvenile criminal matter. There are no shortcuts just because the defendant is a child. The expertise that is required of an attorney defending a juvenile in a criminal matter is very much similar to adult criminal court defense work. The rules are the same.

I have defended many juvenile clients and have obtained terrific results in Essex County and throughout the State. I can assure yo that a free consultation will be provided to you. I will answer all of your questions, and educated you on the charges, the defenses, the likely result, and procedure.

Shoplifting Policy in Different New Jersey Municipal Courts

There is typically very little uniformity in the Various NJ municipal courts regarding plea offers and commonly charged traffic and criminal offenses. As a New Jersey Municipal Court lawyer, I have appeared in MANY different municipal courts. Therefore, I am usually aware of how my clients charges will be viewed by a particular municipal prosecutor and judge.

This is a very important aspect of this area of practice. For example, if the defendant is facing shoplifting charges, there are some municipalities that have a no plea bargain rule. This means that the court has made a policy decision to strictly enforce shoplifting laws and will not allow for an amended charge unless there are exceptional circumstances. This means that a defendant facing a shoplifting offense in one of these municipalities will likely have to go to trial and make the state prove its case BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT.

This issue becomes especially important if you are facing immigration consequences because of your shoplifting charge. Shoplifting is called a crime of moral turpitude, and can be used against you in a deportation proceeding.

That being said, there are many aspects that need to come together prior to trial for the state to prove its case. Therefore, if you are facing charges in one of these jurisdictions, you should certainly contact an attorney to discuss the specifics of your case. If you are interviewing lawyers, you should ask them if they appear regularly in that court, and do they know if certain restrictions exist.

Additionally, I would urge you to contact an attorney prior to any shoplifting charge court appearances. During your court appearance, the judge, the prosecutor, etc., may ask you questions. Things you say on the record could be harmful to your defense.

If you have questions regarding this topic, please contact my office. I am available 24 hours.

Newark New Jersey Drug Offense Lawyer

Have you been arrested for a drug related offense in Newark NJ. Depending on the nature of the offense, i.e. the type of drugs involved and the quantity, your case will be heard in either the Superior or Municipal Courts. Typically the municipal court will only have jurisdiction over disorderly persons drug related offenses, i.e, offenses involving less than 50 grams, possession of drug paraphernalia, being under the influence of a CDS, possession of CDS in a motor vehicle, loitering/wandering crimes, etc. Disorderly persons drug charges carry a maximum penalty of up to 6 months in jail and $1000 fine.

If you have been arrested for possession of most other drugs, including cocaine, heroine, prescription pills, etc., or you had more than 50 grams of marijuana, or you are facing drug distribution charges, you may be facing indictable criminal charges. In New Jersey,  more serious criminal offenses are called indictable offenses. Most states refer to these crimes as felony crimes.

Procedurally speaking, your complaint will originate out of the municipality where the offense is alleged to have taken place. Even if you are facing indictable charges, your complaint will provide a date for you to appear in the municipal court. However, you may also receive a notice to appear in the Essex County Superior Court Central Judicial Processing Unit (CJP). If you are facing indictable charges you will probably have to appear in one place or the other, but not both. If you are facing a disorderly persons drug offense you will have to appear only in the municipal court.

PLEASE BE AWARE, the initial stages of a criminal drug offense case in Essex County can be very, very confusing for the criminal defendant. First appearances and initial court dates are poorly organized by the courts and result in the accused having to make unnecessary and time-consuming appearances. It is best to contact a Newark New Jersey and Essex County NJ Drug crimes attorneys he knows the court system. This will help you avoid some of the initial confusion and also ensure that your rights are protected

Dismissal of DWI Charge, Operation Issue, Recent Result in Newark Muni Court

I recently represented a defendant charged with DWI in the Newark Municipal Court. It was a slightly unusual case that presented what is commonly known as an operation issue. In order for the State to prove that the accused was driving while intoxicated, the element of operation must be established. For example, with most DWI offenses, the defendant is pulled over while operating his/her car. Thus, the operation prong of the offense is clear. However, in some cases the lines are not so bright. My client had his car parked on the street. The car was not running and the keys were not in the ignition. While he was patronizing a local restaurant, he noticed the police ticketing his car. He ran out to stop them, and during the conversation they noticed the smell of alcohol on his breath and eventually arrested him for Driving While Intoxicated. Now, the State can prove operation if evidence is presented illustrating the defendant’s intent to operate. For example, a car pulled over on the shoulder of the parkway. The keys are in the ignition, the car is not running, the defendant is passed out in the front seat, and the police conduct an investigatory stop, eventually arresting the suspect for DWI. The question is how did he/she get there and were they intoxicated while operating. The Court is permitted to “connect the dots.”

However, in a factual setting similar to ours, there is a thousand and one explanations for how that car may have got there, and none of which include my client driving while intoxicated. Was it possible that he had driven that car while drunk? Yes..he did not reside in the area, it was late at night, he was parked directly in front of the restaurant But, once again, we have a simple probable cause/suppression issue. Unknowingly, the police sealed their own fate when they issued the parking ticket. But that alone did not seal the deal. The old adage “where there is smoke there is fire” certainly applies to DWI offenses. But this case can be compared to two boy scouts rubbing two sticks together, creating a little heat, but no fire. The key is a prepared and coherent argument that precisely addresses each suspect element. All that is required is to disprove one element of the State’s case for a not guilty verdict

Court Dates, First Appearance, Timeline Municipal Court Case

The shelf life of a New Jersey municipal court case defends upon the type of charge (traffic or criminal) and whether the matter is likely to resolve via plea bargain or trial. One of the most important things a defendant can do is to determine the date of his/her first appearance or arraignment. The first date can usually be found on the traffic summon itself or on the face of the criminal complaint/warrant. It is important to check these documents carefully to locate the date. Failing to appear may result in the issuance of a bench warrant. Many times, a defendant neglects to thoroughly read the paperwork and misses the first court date. It is not an excuse that you did not realize the court date was on the ticket or complaint.

The first appearance in the municipal court is typically called an arraignment. On this occasion, the judge will inform the defendant of his rights and ask the defendant to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. The defendant will be given an opportunity to apply for the public defendant if desired. If the defendant is pleading not guilty, then the case will be rescheduled to a later date. This is called an adjournment. If the defendant hired counsel prior to this first appearance, the lawyer will have submitted a letter of representation and a discovery demand,  and it may not be necessary for the defendant to appear on this occasion (check with your lawyer). Otherwise, the accused must appear. Notice of subsequent appearances is received by both the defendant and his/her attorney. It is important to verify your mailing address with the court for this reason.

The second court appearance will usually take place 30 to 45 days later. At this point, the case may have a trial marking or a conference setting. The defendant or the defendant’s attorney will have an opportunity to discuss the case with the prosecutor and see if a plea agreement can be reached prior to trial. If any motions were filed, they are typically done so prior to this appearance. Those motions may be heard on this occasion. If discovery has not been received , the court may reschedule the case and order discovery be provided in a time set by the court. If the case had been marked for trial and no plea agreement has been reached, and both parties are ready to proceed, then it will go forward. If not, the case may be rescheduled again. There are a number of different reasons why an adjournment request may be necessary. It depends on the particular case and the attendant facts. However, if a plea bargain occurs, this will mark the end of the case.

Many times, municipal court cases are rescheduled on multiple occasions for discovery issues. For example, DWI cases are supposed to conclude within a 60 day time period. However, if the case is complicated, or if the State had not provided all the requested documents, the case can far exceed the 60 day shelf life. This scenario does not apply just to DWI cases. Although other matters may not have a 60 day boundary, the discovery issues remain the same. On some occasions, speedy trial demands are made which puts the court on notice that the defendant is asserting this constitutional right.

As a general rule of thumb, any municipal court matter, traffic or criminal, will last around 60 days. In some circumstances, municipal court cases can last as long as 6 months or more. It really just depends on the particular case.

This is really an over-simplified synopsis. I would highly recommend that you consult an attorney prior to any court appearances and before speaking with the police. The scheduling and appearance requirements could vary drastically depending on the facts of your case and the parties involved. It is best to “be in the know” and ask a lawyer.