Residential Burglary In Middlesex County, New Jersey

I have been defending clients charged with residential burglaries and other crimes in New Jersey for over 15 years. In my professional capacity as a criminal lawyer, I have cross-examined countless victims in burglary cases over the years, and the reaction is always the same. Disbelief and outrage. I know how upset they are. Not only are they angry about the theft that has occurred, but they feel violated because a total stranger entered their house to do it. In 2013 there were a string of residential burglaries in Middlesex County, many of them occurring in my hometown of East Brunswick. East Brunswick Police advised residents that the break-ins were occurring during the day.  They described that the suspects would walk around the neighborhood and simply knock on doors. If nobody was home, they would walk around to the back of the house and either break a window, or pry a door to gain entry. In November of 2013, three arrests were eventually made, which seemed  to stop the burglary rampage, however things didn’t stay quiet for long. Additional burglaries started occurring again, and as recently as January of 2014 the East Brunswick Police announced that they were offering a reward for information leading to arrests.

Continue reading “Residential Burglary In Middlesex County, New Jersey”

Sexual Assault in New Jersey: A Scandal in Sayreville

It is difficult to comprehend the magnitude of the tragic events that have unfolded in Sayreville, New Jersey in the past weeks. First the Sayreville High School football team’s defensive coordinator, Charles Garcia was arrested for possession of steroids.  Then there were allegations of hazing and bullying in the team’s locker room. It would have been bad enough to deal with these two incidents, but the hits kept coming. As it turns out, it is alleged that those hazing incidents involved conduct which is much more serious than bullying. The actions alleged at their most serious, if proven true, would constitute Sexual Assault, a crime of the Second Degree, and Aggravated Sexual Assault, a crime of the first degree. Indeed, these are dark days at Sayreville War Memorial High School.

Continue reading “Sexual Assault in New Jersey: A Scandal in Sayreville”

New Jersey Gun Laws Part I: A Constitutional Backdrop

If you live in New Jersey, and participate in target sports, or hunt, or have acquired a firearm for self protection, you may have familiarized yourself with the laws governing ownership of guns in the Garden State.  You may also be feeling like your Second Amendment rights are being infringed. Well, you’re right.  You see I’m not just a New Jersey gun attorney, I’m also a gun owner, and I am committed to protecting you from criminal prosecution of New Jersey’s Unconstitutional gun laws. A culture has proliferated in New Jersey, that says guns are bad. It’s gotten so bad even, that unbelievably the editorial board of the Star Ledger recently published an article which actually called for gun confiscation, from law abiding citizens, as was done in Australia. I guess they aren’t fans of the Second Amendment, or people’s rights.

Continue reading “New Jersey Gun Laws Part I: A Constitutional Backdrop”

New Jersey Possession of CDS: Intent And Distribution

In New Jersey, Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance (CDS), defined under 2C:35-2, is usually an indictable offense, except for possession of marijuana which is a disorderly persons offense if it is under 50 grams.  Possession of all other drugs; cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and molly, PCP, LSD, methamphetamines, most prescription drugs for which there is no prescription, is an indictable offense, even in the smallest of quantities. Even residue of cocaine, for example, left on the inside of a plastic bag will qualify as possession of the drug as long as there is a sufficient quantity for swabbing and testing.  Possession of the substances listed above and any other substance scheduled as I, II, III, and IV, under 2C:35-10, are 3rd degree indictable offenses, which carry a statutory maximum penalty of 5 years in state prison, and a fine of up to $35,000. Possession of a schedule V substances (usually pharmaceuticals in very low concentrations that have little possibility for abuse) is graded as a 4th degree offense, which has a statutory maximum penalty of 18 months in state prison, and a fine of up to $15,000.

Continue reading “New Jersey Possession of CDS: Intent And Distribution”

Driving Without Insurance in New Jersey

The penalty for driving without insurance in New Jersey is severe.  In many ways, it is worse than a first offense DWI.  A person who is convicted for a first offense of driving their car, or letting someone else drive their car, without insurance, will lose their driving privileges for 1 year, and pay a fine of between $300 and $1,000.  The judge may also impose community service.  In comparison, even a first offense for a second tier DWI only has a 7 month loss of license.  If you’ve been charged with this offense you are likely in disbelief as to how serious the consequences are.  As a New Jersey traffic attorney who has defended countless clients in municipal court for this offense, I have mixed feelings about these penalties.

Continue reading “Driving Without Insurance in New Jersey”

DWI in New Jersey: Serious Consequences

You’ve heard the warnings a million times (at least). “Don’t drink and drive!”  You know it’s good advice.  You know it’s dangerous to do it. After all you could kill yourself, or someone else. And yet… Despite having plead guilty to a DWI charge in 2004, and telling the judge that he, “recognize[ed] the seriousness of this mistake. I’ve learned from this mistake and will continue learning from this mistake for the rest of my life”, The most decorated athlete in Olympic history, Michael Phelps has once again been charged with DWI.  His BAC (blood alcohol content) was nearly twice the legal limit, it was reported.  If that is true, Phelps wasn’t just a little buzzed, he was absolutely hammered. In New Jersey in 2012, 550 people died in motor vehicle accidents.  Of those, 169 were DWI related. That means almost 31% of the fatalities that occurred may have been completely preventable if alcohol wasn’t involved.  And still people continue to not only fail to heed this advice, they fail to learn from their own mistakes.

Continue reading “DWI in New Jersey: Serious Consequences”

Domestic Violence, And What You Need to Know About Restraining Orders In New Jersey

What are the requirements for filing a restraining order in New Jersey, who do they protect, and do they work?  If you have one filed against you, what does it mean, and can you ever get it lifted?  All good questions, and exactly the ones you should be asking yourself.  Restraining orders are applied for in the Family Court, and issued by Family Court Judges. So why is a criminal attorney writing about this? This area of law is procedurally family law, but is criminal law in it’s substantive analysis, and many of my clients are simultaneously charged with crimes that are the basis of the restraining order.  Any person that is the victim of domestic violence may apply for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). To qualify as a victim of domestic violence under Rule 5:7A, a person must be a spouse or ex-spouse, or involved or previously involved in a romantic or sexual relationship, or be a family member, or have co-habitated with, or have a child with the defendant.  To determine if an act qualifies as domestic violence, an alleged abuser must have committed one of the following crimes under title 2C: Harassment under 2C:33-4Terroristic Threats under 2C:12-3Stalking under 2C:12-10Assault under 2C:12-1Criminal Mischief under 2C:17-3Sexual Assault under 2C:14-2Lewdness under 2C:14-4, Trespass under 2C:18-3, or Burglary under 2C:18-2.  During a hearing, if a judge is satisfied that these elements have been proven, he will finalize the restraining order, making it permanent (FRO).  So, even though restraining orders are classified as civil litigation in the chancery division, it is my professional opinion that to properly represented clients, whether they are plaintiffs or defendants, an attorney should be highly skilled in criminal defense litigation.

Continue reading “Domestic Violence, And What You Need to Know About Restraining Orders In New Jersey”

Shoplifting in New Jersey

There’s no way anyone can see what you’re doing, right?  You glance around to make sure.  Maybe it’s expensive designer clothing, electronics, phone cards, allergy medication, jewelry, cosmetics, a pack of smokes, diapers, or baby formula… Your heart is beating fast, but this is easy, you think to yourself.  You’re past the cash registers, and nearing the exit. You’re almost home free!  That’s when you hear him.  A loud, stern voice. “Excuse me, stop right there, we need to speak to you.”  Your heart sinks… You know they’re talking to you.  You turn around, and see two store security guards.  “Can I help you?”  You stammer, trying to seem nonchalant.  “Would you come with us please.”  They aren’t actually asking.  “What is this about?”  You lie,  knowing very well what it’s about. In that instant you desperately regret your actions, because you’ve just gotten caught shoplifting…

Continue reading “Shoplifting in New Jersey”

Underage Drinking in New Jersey – Tragedy at Rutgers

As a New Jersey criminal defense attorney who maintains a practice in East Brunswick, in Middlesex County, I have represented more than my fair share of Rutgers students from both the Piscataway and New Brunswick campuses over the years. Usually it’s the same litany of charges: Noise violations, disorderly conduct, the very rare simple assault charge, drinking in public, urinating in public, possession of small amounts of marijuana, underage possession of alcohol, and… underage drinking. Summonses that range from ordinance violations, to disorderly persons offenses. Not very serious. I confess that most of the time I’ve had a fairly casual attitude towards this type of behavior, assuring nervous parents retaining me for their children that these types of incidents are very common amongst college students, and that I’m very good at getting them worked out in court. It’s not that I don’t take these cases seriously, I do. I know full well that at the end of the day, moms and dads don’t want their college aged children to have a record for behavior that was really nothing more than a momentary lapse of judgment. I can certainly understand that, and as an attorney, I take that responsibility seriously. Perhaps that is why, personally, I’ve had that casual attitude, viewing these incidents as nothing more than foolish behavior, combined with confidence in my ability to resolve these matters successfully. On September 21, 2014 sophomore Rutgers student Caitlyn P. Kovacs passed away due to what is believed to be acute alcohol poisoning. She was only 19.

Continue reading “Underage Drinking in New Jersey – Tragedy at Rutgers”

Ray Rice, and Assault Prosecutions in New Jersey

It was the punch seen ’round the world.  It was tough to watch, and I’m saying that as a veteran criminal defense attorney who’s seen it all.  I’m referring to Ray Rice, and the one punch knock-out blow that floored his then fiancée, Janay Palmer (now, Janay Rice) in the elevator of the Revel casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  There has been much conjecture about the propriety of his NFL suspension, and about the man who made that decision, NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell.  So too there has been much discussion about the criminal assault prosecution, and the manner in which it was pursued by the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, and Prosecutor James’s P. McClain.  Some people feel the prosecution was heavy-handed, and that Ray Rice was only charged with Aggravated Assault because it was a high-profile case, and the prosecutor’s office didn’t want to appear weak on domestic assault.  Some people feel he got a slap on the wrist because he was a high-profile NFL player, and former Rutgers University standout.  The reality is that without a cooperating witness, even though the act was captured on video, a case like this can be difficult to prosecute.  An uncooperative victim/witness is common in domestic assault cases, and why the decisions made by the prosecutor’s office were extremely pragmatic.

Continue reading “Ray Rice, and Assault Prosecutions in New Jersey”