Conditional Dismissal in New Jersey Municipal Courts: One Free Bite at The Apple For First Time Offenders

Conditional Dismissal is a much welcomed diversionary program which was signed into law by Governor Chris Christie (R) as P.L. 2013 c. 158 on September 6, 2013, and went into effective January 4, 2014. It allows those who qualify, charged with  disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offenses in municipal court, an opportunity to keep a clean record provided they successfully complete a 1 year period of probation without any additional criminal convictions. This is a perfect compliment to the Conditional Discharge Program, under N.J.S.A. 2C:36A-1, which works similarly, but applies only to drug offenses, and  the Pre-Trial Intervention Program under N.J.S.A. 2C:43-12 which applies to indictable offenses. In a time when the Administrative Office of the Courts, and the New Jersey Attorney General strongly discourage municipal prosecutors from downgrading disorderly persons offenses to non-criminal municipal ordinances, this is a valuable option for prosecutors and defense attorneys resolving cases.

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Hiring an Aggressive New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer

Getting arrested or charged with a criminal offense is a scary experience. Whether you saw it coming or it was a complete surprise, in the blink of an eye your life has just taken a drastic turn. Now, you’re sitting in a police car. You’re handcuffed. You’re being questioned by a detective… Hard. You’re saying to yourself the whole time, “I can’t believe this is happening!” The experience of being charge with a crime is extremely upsetting, and can be overwhelming. When it actually happens to you, and you’re confronted with the reality of the situation (and the possible consequences), it can feel like your world is being turned upside down. You’re left feeling confused and scared. Most of all, you just want to know what’s going to happen next.

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Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in New Jersey

What is drug paraphernalia? In New Jersey, being charged with Possession of Drug Paraphernalia under 2C:36-2, mean you have in your possession with intent to use, a wide variety of items, as described generally and in detail by 2C:36-1, to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, conceal, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the human body a controlled dangerous substance, controlled substance analog, or toxic chemical. That covers quite a bit of ground, and would seemingly include a lot of items that have a perfectly lawful purpose… like plastic baggies. So, how does a prosecution determine that items are drug paraphernalia, and not a lawful item?

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What Happens When You Fail to Appear in Court in New Jersey?

I frequently help people when they fail to appear at a scheduled court date, in New Jersey. Failure to appear can be serious. How I approach the problem depends on several factors. I determine whether they have failed to appear in a New Jersey municipal court, or a superior court. I also determine how many times it has happened, as well as how serious the underlying charges are. All are factors which determine how a court will react to an absentee defendant.  The consequences for missing court varies, and can be quite serious, therefore it is important to handle these types of situation very carefully.

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New Jersey Harassment Laws: What you Might Not Know

Harassment, charged under 2C:33-4 is one of those charges in New Jersey that doesn’t sound particularly serious. The vast majority of times it isn’t, and is charged as a petty disorderly persons offense, carrying no more than a $500 fine and up to 30 days in county jail. When charged in this fashion it is handled in municipal court. Many times the conduct is either a de minimis infraction, or does not actually rise to the level of harassment, as a matter of law. When representing clients charged under these circumstances, resolution is usually easily achieved with a dismissal, or downgrade to a non-criminal offense such as a local ordinance. However, there are circumstances when Harassment can be brought as a fourth degree indictable offense, which is a much more serious legal situation, and why you should be familiar with New Jersey Harassment laws.

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New Jersey Bail Reform: Public Question on 2014 Mid-Term Ballot

Election day, 2014. On the ballot for New Jersey voters, is a public question regarding bail reform. The question will ask if New Jersey’s Constitution should be amended to allow judges to deny bail to certain dangerous offenders. This is an absurd proposition, unnecessary, Unconstitutional, and will lead to not only additional litigation to an already overburdened criminal justice system, but will also waste the time of legislators who, ultimately, will have to spend time re-tooling their efforts.

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