Criminal Defense Attorney in Hunterdon County, NJ
Although Hunterdon County has many beautiful communities and is a great place to live, even good people sometimes find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Whether you’ve been charged with a drug offense, traffic violation, or violent crime, you deserve an advocate who will fight hard for your rights.
Facing criminal charges can upend your entire life. The process is frightening and stressful, even in the best of situations. If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI, drug offense, or other crime in New Jersey, you need a knowledgeable, compassionate attorney on your side.
Criminal Charges in the New Jersey Justice System
The New Jersey legal system is a little different than many other states. New Jersey does not classify crimes as “felonies” (more serious) and “misdemeanors” (less serious). Instead, more serious charges are classified by degrees and handled in Hunterdon County Superior Court. Less serious matters are called “disorderly person offenses” and handled in the municipal court. (The historic superior courthouse, which is no longer used, was the site of the infamous Lindbergh kidnapping trial in 1935.)
Whether you are charged in superior or municipal court, you may face fines and penalties, including jail or prison time, probation, significant fines, community service, and suspension or loss of your driver’s license.
Some crimes can be classified as either type of charge based on the facts (for drug charges, it depends on the quantity and type of drug in your possession). Even traffic offenses can result in more severe superior court charges. No matter your charges, you should retain excellent legal counsel to mount a vigorous defense.
Collateral Consequences of Convictions in New Jersey
If you are convicted of any criminal offense, even in municipal court, you may suffer additional “collateral” consequences beyond jail time or fines. You could lose your ability to get a professional license or pursue your chosen profession. A conviction may result in changes to your visa or immigration status; you may be barred from entering certain foreign countries. It can exclude you from future opportunities like educational loans and reduce your eligibility for public benefits. If you are imprisoned, you may lose your right to vote during your incarceration.
You may also face civil penalties or have to defend yourself against a civil suit based on the events leading to your arrest. A criminal conviction can make it harder to mount a defense in a civil lawsuit.
Although it may be possible to eventually have a conviction expunged from your record, depending on the charges and circumstances, the process can be lengthy and complicated. The best strategy is to avoid a conviction. If you are charged with a crime, you need an attorney.
Never Plead Guilty or Make Any Statements Without Legal Representation
Pleading guilty to a crime has the same effect as being convicted by a judge or jury. Prosecutors sometimes attempt to negotiate plea bargains with individuals charged with crimes to quickly resolve the charges before trial. Don’t accept any offers without speaking to an experienced attorney. You should understand the long-term consequences of making such a deal.
Options for Individuals Facing New Jersey Criminal Charges
New Jersey offers a few diversionary programs for individuals with no prior criminal history to avoid a conviction and criminal record.
- Pretrial Intervention (PTI) is a program for first-time offenders who face superior court charges.
- Conditional Discharge is an option for first-time offenders facing municipal court drug offenses.
- Conditional Dismissal may be available for offenders brought up on other municipal court charges.
Each alternative program has different requirements. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help determine whether you may qualify and present your case in the best light possible to the court. If you are accepted into one of these diversionary programs, a good attorney can help you understand how to complete its requirements successfully and avoid a criminal record.
Experienced, Compassionate Representation
People make mistakes, and everyone deserves a second chance. No one should go through the criminal court system alone. Jenna Casper Bloom has the experience and skill to help you navigate the New Jersey court system. She can help you understand your options and work to reduce a criminal charge’s impact on your present and future opportunities.