196 East Commerce Street
Bridgeton, NJ 08302
Managing Partner Ron Helmer discusses how to handle a situation when a loved one is serving jail time.
The New Jersey law firm of Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A., has a skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense team that can provide you with aggressive representation and advocacy at a time when you need it most. Your New Jersey criminal lawyer can assist you in all types of criminal cases and issues, including the following:
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Unlike other states, New Jersey classifies crimes into the categories of: (i) disorderly persons offenses, and (ii) indictable offenses. There are degrees of crimes within each of these categories – with two degrees of disorderly persons offenses and four degrees of indictable offenses recognized under the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice. When facing criminal charges in New Jersey, understanding the category and degree of each alleged offense is important. The category and degree of the offense determine not only the penalties that are on the table, but also your eligibility for expungement should you be convicted at trial.
Here are some examples of the types of crimes that fall into each category. If you do not see your specific charge listed, you can contact us to find out whether you are being charged with a disorderly persons offense or an indictable offense:
Importantly, certain crimes can be charged at varying degrees depending upon the specific circumstances involved. For example, burglary is a second-degree offense in cases involving use of a deadly weapon or infliction (or attempting infliction) of bodily injury, but in all other cases should be prosecuted as a third-degree offense.
In New Jersey, all criminal offenses carry the potential for fines and incarceration. The category and degree of your alleged offense (or offenses) will determine the penalties that are on the table.
The penalties for disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey include:
The penalties for indictable offenses in New Jersey include:
Many criminal offenses carry mandatory minimum sentences prior to probation eligibility in New Jersey; and, in certain cases, defendants can face parole supervision for life upon their release from prison. A criminal conviction can have other serious legal and practical consequences as well. These consequences include:
As a result of these potential consequences, all degrees of criminal charges need to be taken extremely seriously. You should not assume that you will avoid conviction or receive a light sentence simply because you are confident you did nothing wrong. New Jersey’s criminal statutes are extraordinarily complex, and prosecutors will vigorously pursue any case where there is evidence to suggest that a crime has been committed. Before making any assumptions or decisions about your case, it is imperative that you seek the advice of an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney.
You may have noticed that the lists of crimes above do not include driving under the influence (DUI). The reason for this is simple: Driving under the influence is not a criminal offense in New Jersey. In New Jersey, DUI is prosecuted as a traffic offense; and, while you may not be labeled a criminal, there are actually some important negative ramifications to DUI’s “traffic offense” designation. Learn more in our DUI FAQs.
But, while DUI is not a crime in New Jersey, certain other alcohol-related offenses are. For example, DUI with death by auto is a form of reckless manslaughter that can be prosecuted as a second-degree indictable offense.
Q: What if the police did not read my Miranda rights?
If the police failed to read your Miranda rights, this could mean that you are entitled to have certain evidence withheld from your criminal case. But, it could also mean nothing at all.
The police are not required to read your Miranda rights when they arrest you. The obligation to read your rights applies only before you are interrogated in custody. If you spoke to the police (including answering their questions) under circumstances in which you were free to leave, the police were not required to read your rights, and anything you said can be used against you. On the other hand, if you were in custody when the police questioned you, their failure to read your rights could provide grounds to have your answers suppressed from evidence at trial.
However, this suppression does not happen automatically. In a criminal case, it is up to you to protect your rights. You will need to raise the failure to read your Miranda rights in court; and, in order to do this, you will need to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to file a motion on your behalf.
Q: What should I do if the police have asked me to come in for questioning?
If the police have asked you to come in for questioning, this could mean one of two things: either (i) the police believe you may have information about a crime, or (ii) you are the target of an ongoing criminal investigation. In either case, you need to very careful about saying anything to the police. Even if you are currently being treated as a witness, your statements to the police could trigger an investigation. You should exercise your right to counsel, and you should talk to an attorney before you go in for questioning. It may also be best for you to go to the police station with your attorney.
Q: Do the police have to tell me if I am a suspect in a criminal investigation?
No, when the police question you, they do not have to tell you that you are a suspect in their investigation. The police use a variety of tactics to solicit information from witnesses and suspects, and this includes withholding information about the scope and status of their investigation.
Q: Can I go to jail for possessing a firearm in New Jersey?
Yes. Unlawful possession of a firearm (i.e. possession of a banned firearm or possession of a lawful firearm without an appropriate license or permit) is an indictable offense under the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice. Depending upon the specific weapon involved, unlawful possession can be prosecuted as a second, third or fourth-degree indictable offense. Many firearm convictions, including having a gun without a New Jersey permit, can carry mandatory prison sentences, some for up to 10 year in prison without parole eligibility for up to 5 years in prison.
Q: What is parole supervision for life?
In New Jersey, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault and certain other sex-related offenses carry the penalty of parole supervision for life (in addition to the various other penalties that are applicable to sex-related offenses). If you are convicted, once you serve out your mandatory prison sentence, you will become eligible for parole like other convicted offenders. However, unlike other convicted offenders, your parole sentence will last the rest of your life, and you will be subject to requirements and restrictions that do not apply to ordinary parole.
Q: When can you claim self-defense in New Jersey?
Technically called “self-protection” in New Jersey, the law of self-defense allows for the use of reasonable force when, “such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting [yourself] against the use of unlawful force by such other person on the present occasion.” If you need to rely on self-protection to avoid conviction, you will want to work with a New Jersey criminal lawyer who has specific experience asserting this defense.
Q: What are some other potential defenses to criminal charges in New Jersey?
There are numerous potential defenses to criminal charges in New Jersey. This includes defenses that exist under state statutes and court decisions, as well as defenses based upon the fundamental protections of the U.S. Constitution. While the specific defenses you have available will be determined by the unique facts and circumstances of your case, some examples of commonly-asserted defenses include:
Q: What should I do if I was arrested for possession of medical marijuana?
While New Jersey has not yet joined the list of states that have legalized recreational marijuana, the New Jersey Compassionate Use of Medical Marijuana Act allows for use of medical marijuana as a form of treatment for multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and terminal illness (including cancer). If you were arrested for marijuana possession and you have the legal right to use marijuana, our attorneys can use this to defend you.
Q: What are my rights if the prosecution is withholding evidence in my case?
If the prosecutor’s office is in possession of evidence that is favorable to your defense, you have the right to see this evidence under the Fifth Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Court established this right in the case of Brady v. Maryland and withholding of material evidence by the prosecution is commonly referred to as a “Brady violation.” If you believe that the prosecutor’s office is withholding evidence in your case, this is absolutely an issue that you should discuss with your New Jersey criminal lawyer.
5 Reasons to Choose Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. for Your New Jersey Criminal Case
When you are facing a possible criminal conviction, you need to choose a lawyer who you believe has the skill and experience necessary to defend you. Here are five reasons why individuals throughout New Jersey trust the defense lawyers at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A.:
All of our criminal defense attorneys are highly-experienced and have represented numerous defendants in criminal courts throughout New Jersey. Combined, they have 600 years of law enforcement experience among them.
We take a strategic approach that involves getting to know you personally so that we can assert the defenses that are best-suited to the particular facts of your case.
We have a team of attorneys and legal professionals who work together to protect our clients’ best interests.
All members of our team are happy to speak with you, and you can reach us day or night if you have questions or information to share about your case.
We relentlessly pursue the best possible outcome in every case we handle. We consider it our duty to do so, and we do not expect you to settle for anything less than the best we have to offer.
If you have been arrested or are facing a criminal investigation in New Jersey, it is important that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible. If you would like to speak with one of our attorneys, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a confidential initial consultation. To schedule an appointment as soon as possible, call us at 1-609-281-8773 or send us your contact information online now. Or feel free to call Managing Partner Ron Helmer on his cell at 1-609-685-0665.
Don’t let your rights be jeopardized.