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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Getting Your Prior Record Expunged in New Jersey

People make mistakes. Sometimes those mistakes have legal consequences. Anyone who has ever been convicted of a crime in New Jersey can tell you how difficult it can be to get hired for a job with a criminal record. In New Jersey, under certain circumstances, people with criminal convictions can file for an expungement in order to have that conviction erased. An expungement removes and isolates all records on file with any court, any detention or correctional facility, law enforcement agency, or juvenile justice agency. If a judge grants an expungement petition, records regarding a person’s apprehension, arrest, detention, trial, conviction in the criminal justice system, disposition of delinquency in the juvenile justice system, or disposition in any related proceedings, are considered not to have occurred. Additionally, all complaints, warrants, arrests, commitments, processing records, finger prints, photographs, index cards, “rap sheets”, and judicial docket records shall also be expunged. For some people, this means a fresh start.

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Bail and Bail Reduction Motions in New Jersey: What You Need to Know

You’ve been arrested. The cops tried to interrogate you, but you’re too smart for that. You gave them nothing, and asked for an attorney. You’re processed, thrown in a cell, and told you’ll be brought before a judge to have your bail set. Now that the exciting part is over, you have a little bit of time to think. What happens if the judge sets a high bail and I can’t afford to post it? What can an attorney do to help me at this point? These are good questions, and knowing the answers is very important, because my first priority is getting you out of jail, and understanding how bail and bail motions work can help ease your anxiety at this stage of the process.

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Leaving the Scene of an Accident in New Jersey

New Jersey roadways are legendary. A densely populated state, where everyone drives everywhere, the congestion on our main roads and highways is the stuff nightmares are made of.  When people compare roadways to “parking lots” – many cars, none of them moving- you know it’s bad. And that applies to Route 18 in East Brunswick into New Brunswick, Route 287, the Garden State Parkway, and of course the New Jersey Turnpike, to name just a few. With that many people and that much traffic, there are bound to be more than a few accidents. Whether they are “fender benders” or major collisions, a motorist has an obligation to remain at the scene of the accident, and report it to the police. Failure to do so will result in summonses for 39:4-129 Leaving the Scene of an Accident (in NJ the statute is technically called Action in Case of Accident), and 39:4-130 Failure to Report Accident (In NJ technically called Immediate Notice of Accident). Even worse, if you’ve left the scene of an accident where an individual sustained serious bodily injury, you will also be charged criminally with 2C:12-1.1 Leaving the Scene of an Accident Resulting in serious Bodily Injury– A third degree indictable offense where, per the statute, the presumption against incarceration for a first time offender does not apply! Very serious stuff.

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Resisting Arrest in New Jersey: A True Story

There has been much focus as of late, on the use of physical force by the police on private citizens. There have been several recent well publicized incidents of alleged police misconduct which have reminded citizens of the true nature of the relationship between citizens and law enforcement. I’m no cop hater, believe me. We need police. If we didn’t have them, living in society would be a violent and dangerous affair, to be sure. But the reality is, in encounters with citizens it is the police that have the exclusive right to use physical force. Test that theory, and you will likely be charged with Resisting Arrest under 2C:29-2Obstruction of Justice (which in New Jersey, is actually called Obstructing the Administration of Law) under 2C:29-1Hindering Apprehension under 2C:29-3, or any combination of the three. Depending on the the specific facts of a case, it is not uncommon to see defendants simultaneously charged with Aggravated Assault (on a police officer) under 2C:12-1(b)(5)(a), and Disorderly Conduct under 2C:33-2. In New Jersey, a person being placed under arrest does not have the right to resist, even if the arrest is unlawful. Good faith mistakes happen, and justifying physical resistance under those circumstances creates an unnecessary risk of serious bodily injury to both parties.  The really interesting legal quandary occurs when an individual physically resists arrest, where the actions of the police are not only unlawful, but also aggressive and dangerous. More specifically, I want to examine the situation where the police use force which exceeds the proper scope of their authority, and are themselves breaking the law.

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Body Cameras For All New Jersey Police

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.

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Can Cops Make You Unlock Your Cell Phone With Your Fingerprint in New Jersey?

Recently, Virginia Circuit Court Judge, Steven C. Frucci ruled that police can make you unlock your phone with your fingerprint if you are using that biometric security feature on you cell phone. They cannot, however force you to turn over your numerical passcode if you are utilizing that method of security, the judge ruled. (Commonwealth of Virginia v. David Charles Baust) But why, and what is the difference? More importantly, does this apply in New Jersey?

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