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Managing Partner Ron Helmer discusses how to handle a situation when a loved one is serving jail time.


Experienced Representation from Your New Jersey Criminal Lawyer

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:

  • After Arrest Legal Procedure – Following an arrest, you will be subject to certain legal procedures, including a detention hearing. An experienced NJ criminal attorney can assist you and advise you of your rights.
  • Aggravated Assault – The serious crime of aggravated assault involves an intent to cause bodily injury, typically using a weapon or vehicle, and can result in severe penalties.
  • Arson – Arson occurs when you intentionally set a structure or vehicle on fire. A conviction carries serious repercussions, including incarceration, that necessitate the assistance of a NJ criminal lawyer.
  • Bail Reform – Bail reform comes to NJ on Jan 1, 2017.  If you are arrested and charged on a warrant, you can be held without bail pending a hearing, perhaps as long as five to seven days. This is true even for people with no criminal history or record.  Attorneys can assist at the preliminary hearing to facilitate your release from jail or limit the restrictions imposed on you upon your release.
  • Child/Domestic Abuse – If you are accused of committing a crime against a child, family member or significant other, you can face serious consequences, such as jail and restraining orders.
  • Drug Crimes – In the state of New Jersey, if you possess marijuana, controlled dangerous substances, or other drugs or paraphernalia, you may be subject to significant jail time and loss of your driver’s license.
  • Escape – Escaping from or failing to report to a jail, prison, halfway house, police station, or parole office can result in 5 to 10 years in prison. If accused of escape, you will need an aggressive New Jersey criminal lawyer to represent you.
  • Fraud – Some theft offenses, which typically involve lying, cheating, or some type of forgery, are classified as fraud.
  • Immigration Consequences of Criminal Activity – If a person is not a U.S. citizen, he or she not only faces criminal penalties if convicted of certain crimes -- but also the potential removal from the United States, or deportation.
  • Internet Crime - In today's digitally connected, "always on" age, businesses and individuals alike are continually at risk of identity theft, impersonation, account compromises, data theft, online fraud, network intrusions, data breaches, Internet stalking, invasion of privacy, and computer theft.
  • Murder/Manslaughter – The crimes of murder and manslaughter can result in a life sentence. Therefore, representation by an exceptionally skilled NJ defense attorney is essential if you are accused of this type of crime.
  • Parole/Probation Violations – If you violate the terms of your parole or probation, you can be subject to being held without bail and to serving additional jail or prison time.
  • Resisting Arrest – If you do not submit to arrest when a law enforcement officer attempts to arrest you, you can commit the crime of resisting arrest, even if your arrest is wrongful.
  • Robbery/Burglary – The crimes of robbery and burglary involve taking property without another’s permission and entering someone else’s property in order to commit a crime. If convicted of robbery or burglary, you may serve a lengthy prison sentence.
  • Sexual Assault, Megan’s Law, and Other Sex Crimes – Sex crimes not only can result in serious criminal penalties, such as jail or prison time, but also can require you to formally register as a sex offender for several years -- or even for a lifetime. If you are accused of a sex crime, you must enlist the services of an experienced NJ criminal attorney immediately.
  • Types of Criminal Offenses – A skilled New Jersey criminal lawyer can assist you in asserting criminal defenses on your behalf, which include self-defense, alibi, and diminished capacity or insanity. Any of these defenses may be key to dismissing your criminal charges.
  • Weapons Offenses – If you unlawfully carry or possess any type of weapon, or use that weapon to harm another, you may be subject to a criminal weapons charge.
  • White Collar Crimes - “White collar crime” refers to many different types of crimes. These crimes generally involve allegations of some type of financial misconduct, often through sophisticated means.

Click here for all of your NJ criminal law news.

Crime Classifications in New Jersey: Disorderly Persons Offenses and Indictable Offenses

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:

  • Petty Disorderly Persons Offenses – Disorderly conduct and harassment
  • Disorderly Persons Offenses – Resisting arrest, shoplifting, simple assault, and possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana
  • Fourth Degree Indictable Offenses – Forgery, certain theft offenses and forgery
  • Third Degree Indictable Offenses – Arson, certain theft offenses and certain drug crimes
  • Second Degree Indictable Offenses – Aggravated arson, many firearms offenses, robbery, some sex offenses, kidnapping, manslaughter and some drug crimes
  • First Degree Indictable Offenses – Murder, aggravated manslaughter, armed robbery and some drug crimes

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.

Penalties for Disorderly Persons Offenses and Indictable Offenses

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.

Penalties for Disorderly Persons Offenses

The penalties for disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey include:

  • Petty Disorderly Persons Offenses – Up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine
  • Disorderly Persons Offenses – Up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine

Penalties for Indictable Offenses

The penalties for indictable offenses in New Jersey include:

  • Fourth Degree Indictable Offenses – Up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine
  • Third Degree Indictable Offenses – A three to five-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $15,000
  • Second Degree Indictable Offenses – A five to 10-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $150,000
  • First Degree Indictable Offenses – A 10 to 20-year prison sentence (with the potential for a 25-year, 30-year or life sentence in some cases) and fine of up to $200,000

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:

  • Loss of your Right to Own or Carry a Firearm – If you are convicted of certain types of crimes (or even accused of domestic violence), you can lose your right to own or carry a firearm in New Jersey. This is true regardless of whether you were in possession of a firearm at the time of the offense for which you were convicted.
  • Loss of Your Right to Vote – While New Jersey does not permanently bar convicted criminals from voting, you will be unable to vote while you are in prison, on probation or parole, or subject to any other sentencing conditions.
  • Loss of Child Custody or Visitation Rights – Going to prison is not the only way you can lose the privilege of spending time with your children. A criminal conviction (or domestic violence allegation) could also lead to temporary or permanent loss of your custody or visitation rights. If you are in the midst of a divorce or custody battle, or if you face a divorce or custody dispute in the future, your spouse or partner could use your conviction against you in these proceedings as well.
  • Inability to Find Gainful Employment – Having a criminal conviction on your record can make it extremely difficult to find gainful employment. Employers in New Jersey are allowed to ask about job candidates’ criminal histories, and a check of your criminal record will show that you have been convicted.
  • Inability to Get a Loan or Find Housing – In addition to limiting your job prospects, a criminal conviction could also prevent you from securing a loan or successfully applying for housing. With a criminal conviction on your record, you will be labeled as “high-risk,” and many banks and property owners will not be willing to take their chances.
  • Inability to Get Into (or Stay in) School – With a criminal conviction on your record, your options for seeking higher education will be severely limited. If you get convicted while you are in school, your conviction could potentially result in suspension or expulsion as well.
  • Sex Offender Registration – If you are convicted of sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual contact, or various other sex-related offenses, you will also be required to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law.
  • Forfeiture of State Pension – If you work for the State of New Jersey or any state or local agency, certain criminal convictions can result in the loss of your state pension benefits.
  • Loss of Immigration Status – If you are a foreign citizen, being convicted of a crime in New Jersey could trigger removal (deportation) proceedings with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • Restrictions on Your Ability to Travel – While you are on probation or parole, your ability to travel within and outside of New Jersey may be severely limited. Certain countries, including Canada, will deny entry to foreign citizens with criminal records.
  • Increased Insurance Costs – Life insurance, homeowner’s insurance, auto insurance and other insurance policies all get more expensive when you have a criminal record. If you lie about your criminal history on an insurance application, you could be charged with insurance fraud.
  • Professional License Loss or Suspension – If you hold a professional license, being convicted of a crime in New Jersey could also result in disciplinary action by your professional licensing board. This could include a reprimand, license suspension, license revocation or disbarment.

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.

What about Driving Under the Influence (DUI)?

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.

New Jersey Criminal Defense FAQs

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:

  • Failure to meet the prosecution’s burden of proof
  • Non-voluntary intoxication
  • Diminished capacity
  • Duress
  • Necessity
  • Violation of the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures
  • Violation of the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination
  • Violation of the Fifth Amendment protection against double jeopardy
  • Violation of the Sixth Amendment right to a fair and speedy public trial

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.:

  1. Experience in New Jersey Criminal Court

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.

  1. Strategic and Personalized Legal Representation

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.

  1. A Legal Team with Your Best Interests in Mind

We have a team of attorneys and legal professionals who work together to protect our clients’ best interests.

  1. Approachable and Accessible, Day or Night

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.

  1. Relentless Pursuit of the Best Possible Outcome

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.

Schedule a Confidential Initial Consultation with a New Jersey Criminal Lawyer

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.



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