If you have been arrested for a crime in New Jersey, there are both steps you need to take and mistakes you need to avoid. For an overview of the steps you need to take, you can read our prior article, What To Do After You are Arrested. This article provides a list of 10 mistakes to avoid when you are facing a criminal charge under New Jersey law.
10 Mistakes to Avoid When Facing a Criminal Charge Under New Jersey Law
Mistake #1: Assuming You Will Be Found Guilty
When you face the prospect of a criminal conviction, you cannot afford to assume that you will be found guilty. Regardless of the facts of your case, you may have defenses available, and it will be up to the prosecutor’s office to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If your defense lawyer can challenge even one aspect of the prosecution’s case or even one key piece of evidence, this could be enough to result in a dismissal.
Mistake #2: Assuming You Will Be Found Not Guilty
While you cannot afford to assume that you will be found guilty, you also cannot afford to assume that you will walk free at trial. This, too, is true regardless of the facts of your case. Not only could your understanding of New Jersey law be mistaken, but there is also a very real possibility that you could be convicted even if you did not commit the alleged offense.
Mistake #3: Overlooking Important Facts about Your Case
When discussing your case with your defense attorney, you need to be open about all of the facts that are relevant (or even potentially relevant) to your case. Everything you tell your attorney is privileged, and even seemingly insignificant details can provide defenses in many cases.
Mistake #4: Overlooking Possible Defenses
Speaking of defenses, there are numerous potential defenses to all types of criminal charges under New Jersey law. If you have been charged and are awaiting trial, it is essential that you consult with a New Jersey criminal lawyer to find out what defenses you have available. Potential defenses to criminal charges include not only defenses based on innocence but also based on constitutional violations and flaws in the prosecution’s case.
Mistake #5: Trying to Handle Your Case on Your Own
Due to the complexity of your case, the wide range of defenses you may be able to assert, and the consequences you could face if you do not defend yourself effectively, you do not want to try to handle your case on your own. This can prove to be an extraordinarily costly mistake, and it is one from which many people are never able to recover fully. You owe it to yourself to hire a New Jersey criminal lawyer, and you need to work closely with your lawyer to build the strongest possible defense to the allegations against you.
Mistake #6: Entrusting Your Case to an Inexperienced Defense Lawyer
When choosing a defense lawyer to handle your case, you need to choose wisely. Experience matters, and you will want to choose a New Jersey criminal lawyer who has been handling criminal cases in New Jersey’s state courts for years—if not decades. Feel free to ask lots of questions during your free initial consultation, and make sure you feel confident before deciding to move forward.
Mistake #7: Waiting Too Long to Start Working on Your Defense
To ensure that you have every possible opportunity to achieve a favorable result, you need to get to work on your defense right away. As a result, you should not delay in hiring a criminal defense lawyer. You should schedule a free initial consultation as soon as possible, and you should make sure that the lawyer you choose has time to begin working on your case immediately.
Mistake #8: Missing Court Dates
As a criminal defendant, missing court dates can have severe consequences—including having a bench warrant issued for your arrest if you were released on a Summons or the prosecutor did not seek detention, or at a detention hearing. You need to make sure you know when you need to appear in court, and you need to make arrangements to be there no matter what. If you hire a New Jersey criminal lawyer, your lawyer will “docket” all of your court appearances, and he or she will help make sure that you do not accidentally fail to appear.
Mistake #9: Getting Arrested Again
When you need to convince a judge that you are not a criminal or deserve leniency, the last thing you want to do is get arrested again. While you are awaiting trial, you need to be sure to stay out of trouble. Everything you do needs to take your current circumstances into account, and this includes making sure that you do not put yourself into situations where you could potentially be at risk of getting arrested.
Mistake #10: Failing to Understand the Consequences of a Conviction
In New Jersey, criminal convictions can have severe consequences. From petty disorderly persons offenses to first-degree indictable offenses, all crimes carry the potential for fines and incarceration. If you have been charged with an indictable offense, you are facing up to 18 months of prison time at a minimum, and, in any case, a conviction could have consequences that last well beyond the end of your formal sentence. These consequences could include everything from loss of your voting and gun rights to the inability to find a decent-paying job after your release.
Speak with a New Jersey Criminal Lawyer at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A.
With multiple office locations throughout New Jersey, our firm represents individuals who are facing criminal charges statewide. If you need to speak with a New Jersey criminal attorney, we encourage you to contact us right away. To schedule a free initial consultation as soon as possible, call 877-435-6371 or tell us how we can reach you online now.