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.
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.
I commented back in August of this year, on an article submitted by the editorial board of the Times of Trenton, regarding wearable body cameras for New Jersey police officers. My remarks were simple; It is time that all law enforcement in New Jersey be equipped with wearable video cameras that record all arrests and interactions with persons who are detained for any reason. A joint bill introduced in Trenton this week by NJ state Senator Donald Norcross (D-5 of Camden) and Assemblyman Paul Moriarty (D-4 of Washington Township) could make that a reality. Governor Christie signed a bill into law in August (also introduced by Moriarty) requiring local police cars to have dash mounted cameras. This was a giant leap in the right direction as dash-cams aid in preserving a reliable account of events in and around a patrol car. In this respect, the age of technology has finally caught up with the needs of the criminal justice system, making the once theoretical “objective eye in the sky” one step closer to reality. Such technology would protect police from false allegations, protect defendants from misconduct, and reliably preserve quality objective evidence. Governor Christie should strongly consider the merits of signing this new bill into law.