Criminal Defense Attorney in Somerset County, NJ
Facing criminal charges is frightening and stressful. If you or a loved one is charged with a drug offense or other crime in New Jersey, you need a knowledgeable, compassionate advocate to fight for your rights. Understanding the New Jersey legal system is the first step.
Types of Criminal Charges in New Jersey
Unlike many other states, New Jersey does not classify crimes as “felonies” and “misdemeanors.” Instead, more serious charges are classified by degrees and handled by the Superior Court. Less serious matters are called “disorderly person offenses” and handled in Municipal Court. However, all of them carry fines and penalties that can result in jail or prison time, probation, fines, and loss of drivers’ licenses. Drug offenses may be classified as either type of charge, depending on the quantity and type of drug in your possession. Even traffic offenses can result in Superior Court charges, depending on the circumstances. Because of this, it is very important to retain excellent legal counsel to mount a vigorous defense.
Collateral Consequences of Convictions in New Jersey
Individuals convicted of any criminal offense can suffer collateral consequences along with jail time and fines. These may include loss of a professional license or the ability to pursue your chosen profession, changes to your visa or immigration status, and impact on future financial opportunities like educational loans or 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 facts and events that resulted in your arrest. A criminal conviction can negatively affect your ability to avoid civil penalties or mount a defense in a lawsuit.
Although it may be possible to eventually have a conviction expunged from your record (depending on the circumstances), doing so can be a lengthy and complicated process. It is best to avoid a conviction in the first place. If you are charged with a crime, you need an attorney.
Never Plead Guilty without Legal Representation
Pleading guilty to a crime has the same effect as a conviction. Prosecutors often attempt to negotiate plea bargains with individuals charged with crimes to quickly resolve the charges without a trial. It is vital to consult with an experienced attorney before you enter into any plea bargain so that you understand the long-term consequences of making such a deal.
Drug Charges in New Jersey
Drug charges in New Jersey, as in other states, carry significant penalties. Even if you avoid going to prison for a drug offense, you may face significant fines and unexpected disruptions to your life. Drug possession charges and drug distribution charges can result in convictions that damage your personal and professional reputations.
Options for Individuals Facing Drug Charges and Other Criminal Charges
New Jersey offers several options for individuals with no prior criminal history to avoid a conviction and criminal record. These “diversionary programs” are allowed at the discretion of the Court for qualified individuals. Pretrial Intervention (PTI) is a program for first-time offenders facing Superior Court charges. Conditional Discharge is a possible option for first-time offenders facing Municipal Court drug offenses, while Conditional Dismissal may be available for other Municipal Court charges.
Each program has its own requirements for acceptance and successful completion. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help evaluate whether one of them may be an option for resolving your charges and will present your case in the best light possible to the Court. If you are accepted into one of these diversionary programs, a skilled attorney will help you understand your responsibilities for successfully completing its requirements and avoiding a criminal record.
Experienced, Compassionate Representation
People make mistakes and deserve a second chance. An experienced criminal defense attorney will help you navigate the New Jersey court system and reduce the impact a criminal charge has on your present and future opportunities. If you have been charged with a crime, contact Jenna Casper Bloom to schedule a complimentary consultation.