New Jersey has some of the most stringent laws regarding criminal defense in the country. If you are under investigation, it is essential that you consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. If you have been charged with a crime, there are many ways that an attorney can help.
A criminal defense attorney in New Jersey can represent you during your trial and help negotiate a plea deal to reduce your sentence. Also, an attorney can advise you about potential defenses for your particular situation, provide insight on whether you need to speak to law enforcement, and inform you about your rights regarding search and seizure, Miranda rights, and self-representation.
If necessary, criminal defense attorneys can also help you get out of jail while your case is pending by seeking bail or interventions such as house arrest or monitoring services. Here’s why hiring a criminal defense attorney is essential in New Jersey:
New Jersey has some of the strictest laws in the country
New Jersey has very specific laws governing the rights of the accused. For example, law enforcement officers must read you your Miranda rights (the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney) if you are in custody. This right applies even if you are not under arrest and have not been interrogated.
If an officer fails to read you your rights, your statements are not evidence against you. If law enforcement fails to read you your rights, you should politely (but firmly) ask the officer to stop talking and inform him or her that you wish to remain silent until you have spoken with your attorney. Then, you can ask the officer if you are free to go. If you are, leave.
Police conduct during an investigation
Evidence obtained illegally or in an improper manner cannot be used against you. Unfortunately, law enforcement in New Jersey is not always careful to respect the rights of individuals. In many cases, your attorney can get evidence excluded from your case by arguing that it was obtained illegally. Here are some common examples:
- An unlawful stop: Law enforcement can stop you only if you have violated some type of law (e.g., speeding, running a red light or driving under the influence). If they stop you for a minor (or non-existent) violation, the stop is unlawful. In many cases, the officer will ask you to sign a form acknowledging that you received a warning or ticket. However, you do not have to sign the form. If you refuse, the officer cannot use the stop against you in court.
- An unlawful arrest: An arrest occurs when a police officer takes you into custody, books you at a police station and places you in a cell. An arrest is not the same as an investigatory stop. During an investigatory stop, an officer can briefly detain you but does not have to take you into custody.
- Excessive force: Law enforcement officers have the right to use reasonable force to make an arrest. If an officer uses excessive force — in other words, more force than is necessary — during your arrest, you can sue the police department.
If this happens to you, remain calm and politely request to speak with your attorney again. And if questioned after requesting an attorney, you should politely state that you wish to remain silent until you have spoken with your attorney. Then, ask if you are free to go. If you are, leave.
Criminal defense attorneys have exclusive rights to defend you
Criminal defense attorneys have exclusive rights to defend you. This means that you cannot represent yourself even if you have a law degree. Even if you have a law degree, you cannot advise another person about their case or interpret the law. Only attorneys can do this. If you are arrested or if you are under investigation, you should immediately turn to a criminal defense attorney.
If you do not have the funds to hire an attorney, you can ask the court to appoint you an attorney. However, the court will usually appoint attorneys with a heavy caseload and little experience. If you are charged with a crime, you will also have to appear at all of your court hearings. Even if you hire an attorney, you will have to appear in court and make your case.
Bail and release conditions are strict in New Jersey
If you are under investigation, you deverve to get a release on bail while your case is pending. However, the court has wide discretion on what conditions. A judge will usually hold a hearing within 24 hours to decide your release.
During this hearing, your attorney can request that you be released on bail. The judge will take into account several factors when determining the outcome. The most important factor is your risk of flight. In other words, the judge will consider whether you are likely to abscond (run away) and fail to appear in court.
When you are charged with a crime, everyday matters. Because of the high stakes, you cannot afford to waste time. Your best option is to hire a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.