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Criminal Law: Criminal Law FAQs

Questions Answered by Experienced New Jersey Criminal Lawyers

The law is not easy to understand. Here are some of the questions our New Jersey criminal lawyers answer the most. Remember, we're here to help with your state and federal arrests

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 New Jersey criminal 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.

Don't Risk a Conviction! Call a New Jersey Criminal Lawyer Today

If you were arrested in New Jersey, there's no reason to handle your case on your own. Helmer Legal is here to help with a team of skilled New Jersey criminal lawyers. We encourage you to contact us promptly for a confidential initial consultation. Call us at 1-877-435-6371 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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