traffic citations

After flashing his headlights to warn oncoming motorists of a speed trap, the driver was given a “$260 ticket for improperly using his headlights.” Instead of paying the fee outright, the driver fought the ticket in court. The Oregon driver recently learned that he’d won the legal challenge in an unusual way – on the grounds that the citation violated his free speech. Like every alleged violation, New Jersey’s vehicle code and other state law dictates the basis for a dismissal of a traffic ticket. So, while New Jersey drivers cited for a traffic violation may not expect a similar outcome as the one in Oregon, a dismissal on other grounds is still possible. Traffic violations—including driving without a license or with a suspended license, driving without insurance, speeding, failing to stop, or otherwise allegedly violating Title 39 of the code—vary in severity and penalties. Some can—and should—be fought in court. Many New Jersey motorists are under the mistaken impression that fighting a ticket in court is costly and not worth the time and effort. If, however, you’re facing more serious consequences, you should to consult with an attorney as soon as possible. Facing a suspended driver’s license, or a revocation of a commercial license, or even jail time, can cost you time and money as you miss work due to an inability to commute. You may not have the luxury of time to debate whether you should contact a knowledgeable traffic citation attorney. Years of defending drivers who have made New Jersey traffic citation attorney one of the most common practice areas at the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC. Contact our office to discuss your particular situation.

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how to drop domestic abuse charges in nj

Domestic violence is a serious crime in the eyes of New Jersey. When police are called to a domestic dispute, they can arrest an alleged abuser, even if the victim does not want them to. The police can also arrest an alleged abuser if there is no witness to testify against him. Once arrested, the prosecutor must decide whether to bring criminal charges. The victim is not required to take part in the arrest or conviction of an abuser. What happens if you or a loved one has been arrested for domestic violence? What can you do to help him or her? In this article, we’ll discuss how to drop domestic violence charges in New Jersey. Contact a criminal defense attorney for review of your case. Why Can’t You Just Drop Charges? Oftentimes people are in romantic relationships with their abusers. As a result, many victims try to protect the person who is abusing or terrorizing them. Some abusers bully or scare their victims into getting charges dismissed.   As a result, the prosecutor can bring charges against your partner or spouse even if you don’t agree to it. New Jersey does not need a victim to “file charges” against an abuser, so they do not give victims a right to “drop charges.” What Can You Do? The fact that the prosecutor can bring charges even if you don’t agree doesn’t mean that they will. Prosecutors like to get defendants to take a plea deal; the defendant agrees to plead guilty for a reduced charge or promise of a lighter sentence. But if a defendant rejects a plea deal, prosecutors must present their case to a jury. A prosecutor needs evidence that domestic violence occurred to get a conviction. A criminal defendant can take the Fifth instead of testifying against himself. Often, the only two people who saw the violence were the abuser and his victim, meaning you. So, what happens if you don’t want to testify against a partner or spouse? The state will send you a subpoena to force you to testify. If you refuse, then the judge can hold you in contempt. In other cases, the prosecutor might rely on other evidence, such as a 9-1-1 call. This can be used to prove that an attack occurred. To understand your options, you need to identify the evidence the state has: Request a copy of the police report. This should give you some sense of what evidence the prosecutor has. You’ll also find out if the defendant made any incriminating statements. If so, trying to fight the charges will be an uphill battle. Discuss your case with an attorney. There may be options. For example, you might have been intoxicated the night of the alleged domestic violence. Bringing this fact to trial could help undermine the evidence that violence took place. How Can an Attorney Help? If you were arrested for domestic violence, you need to understand your rights and know if a plea offer is a good deal. Not every domestic violence conviction leads to time in jail. A lawyer can review the evidence and help you decide what steps to take. If you are a victim or witness—say, the defendant’s girlfriend, boyfriend or spouse—you need to understand what will happen to you if the prosecutor brings charges. We cannot tell you to lie on the witness stand, but you might have options for making it hard to use you as a witness. In theory the prosecutor can bring charges without the victim’s cooperation. In practice, however, it can be tough for them to get a conviction when a victim doesn’t cooperate. Call Us to Schedule a Free Consultation Anthony J. Vecchio is an experienced criminal defense lawyer who has spent years working as a prosecutor. He now uses his talents to represent those unfairly accused of a crime. To get started, contact one of his offices today to schedule a case evaluation.

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average personla injury settlement amounts

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. The details of most settlement agreements are private. Because of this, there is no way to know the average personal injury settlement amount. Every personal injury case is different—different injuries, different defendants, different insurance policies. Hearing that your cousin got $40,000 for a broken bone in a car accident doesn’t tell you much about how much you can get for a concussion you got when you slipped at the grocery store. Instead of talking about “averages,” let’s look at how an insurer will determine a settlement amount. Then we can talk about ways to maximize the amount you receive. As always, meet with an experienced New Jersey personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. How Does an Insurance Company Value Injuries? Big insurance companies have been around for decades. They have settled all kinds of insurance claims and have a good idea of how much an injury is worth. Unfortunately, they don’t share this information, so how an insurer decides a number is a little vague. Once an insurer agrees that their insured caused the accident, they will calculate the amount to offer. This can include: Medical bills. The insurer will analyze all medical care and make sure it isn’t too expensive. Usually, they cover all costs related to surgery, rehabilitation, physical therapy, and prescription drugs. Lost wages. If you needed a break from work because of your injury, the insurer will cover lost wages. Property damage. Your car might be damaged or totaled, so they will calculate how much to offer to repair or replace it. So far, all this is pretty routine. An insurer might argue that you didn’t need a certain test or that your car is only worth so much, but they are usually pretty good about covering these costs. Things get tricky when looking at future losses. You might be so injured that you are permanently disabled. You could need surgery or other medical care for decades to come. An insurer will cover future losses, such as future medical care and lost wages, but they might argue about how much to pay. How Much Does an Insurer Offer for Pain and Suffering? Insurance companies tend to be stingy when it comes to compensation for intangible losses. They only offer a few thousand dollars, even when clients have serious injuries. No one knows how insurance companies arrive at a number for pain and suffering. Some people claim they use a multiplier of your economic losses. For example, if you lost $20,000 in medical bills and lost wages, they might offer 1-4 times that for pain and suffering. Others think they look at how much they paid for similar injuries and then offer that amount. The key is to hire an attorney who can bump up the amount of money for pain and suffering. Your attorney should help you document it and make a compelling case for why you deserve that amount. How Can You Increase Your Settlement? There are many things you can do to increase the amount of money you receive in a settlement. For example, you should: Save all medical bills. This can help establish how much money you are owed. Document your pain and mental suffering. Keep a journal where you note daily where you are feeling pain, its intensity, etc. Explain how your injuries hinder your daily life.  Never discuss your case with an insurance adjuster without having an attorney present. The adjuster might try to get you to downplay your injuries or take responsibility for the accident. Both could limit the amount of compensation you receive. If you hire an attorney, he or she can take concrete steps to build a solid case. For example, we can collect evidence so that it is clear who’s at fault and document your injuries. An experienced personal injury attorney will negotiate a settlement for you. Trust our experience to drive a hard bargain. Contact Us Today The Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio represents personal injury victims across New Jersey. If you have been injured, don’t delay. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation.

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attorney for car accident

Many people like to handle their own legal issues, Whether it’s drafting a will using an online program or handling a DUI on their own. However, making a car accident claim is more complex than either of those issues. A lawyer can provide many important services, especially if you have serious physical injuries from the crash.Please contact a personal injury attorney to get started on your case. Your Attorney Gathers Evidence You will only receive compensation if someone else was negligent. Usually, this means that the driver who caused the accident did not operate his motor vehicle with enough care. If another driver wasn’t negligent, his insurance company will deny your claim. In many cases, negligence is not arguable. If a driver ran a red light and slammed into you, then there is no question about liability. However, other cases are not clear cut, so you will need to:  Identify witnesses and interview them about what they saw. Search for dash cam or surveillance video that might have captured the accident. Visit the scene of the accident to reconstruct it. Examine the vehicles involved for clues about how the accident unfolded. This type of work takes time, which you might not have if you are trying to recover from serious injuries. Your attorney can pull together this evidence in a logical and compelling way. A Lawyer Properly Values Your Injuries The weeks following an accident can be scary, and you might be too injured to go to work. With no income, you have giant medical bills and wonder how you will keep a roof over your head. It is very tempting in this situation to agree to the first settlement offer made. Many people immediately agree to too little money because scared and need cash now, so they sign on the dotted line. This is a terrible mistake. By working with a car accident lawyer, you can properly value your injuries. This will give you some idea of how much you should receive. Once you agree to a settlement, you’ll release the defendant from any future liability. You need to get a fair settlement now, and you have one shot to do it. An attorney understands the value of medical care and lost wages. He also knows how much you can receive for things like pain and suffering or mental anguish. Don’t guess; trust a professional. Your Attorney Negotiates with an Insurer Insurers in New Jersey are known for being stingy. They don’t like to pay full and fair compensation, and only do so if the person on the other side holds out. This is where a lawyer can be very helpful. After gathering evidence, your lawyer can draft a demand letter and submit it to the driver’s insurer. This demand letter should state how the driver caused the crash and why you deserve a fair settlement. You can expect the insurance company to reject your request and make a much lower counteroffer. If you don’t know how to bargain, you might never get the insurer to increase their offer. Some insurers hold out, confident that an injured victim will fold. By hiring an attorney for your car accident case, you won’t be misled into accepting a small settlement. An Attorney Can Bring a Lawsuit in Court Negotiations sometimes fail. If they do, your only chance to get compensation is to file a lawsuit. New Jersey’s laws and regulations on lawsuits are complex and can take years to learn. If you try to file your own case, you might make a mistake, like filing in the wrong court or naming the wrong defendant. You might also take too long, since New Jersey’s statute of limitations gives injured motorists only 2 years to file a case in court. If you miss the deadline, a judge will dismiss your case and you’ll get nothing for your injuries. Hire an attorney for your car accident case so you file your case the right way. Your lawyer will collect all evidence so that the jury can understand it. Do you know how to interview witnesses in court? A lawyer does. An Attorney for a Car Accident is Surprisingly Affordable Many people want to handle their own cases because they do not want to pay for an attorney. However, you should understand how car accident attorneys charge before deciding whether their services are worth it. Most car accident lawyers in New Jersey charge on contingency. This means that the client does not pay any lawyer fees upfront. Instead, clients agree that their attorney will take a percentage of any financial recovery, such as a settlement or verdict. The standard percentages are 33-40%. If the lawyer does not get any money for you, then you don’t pay any attorneys’ fees. Legal Representation You Can Trust The Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC, has represented many injured car accident victims in New Jersey. We have negotiated with several large insurance companies, and we know our way around a courtroom.  If you want to discuss your case, contact our office today for a free consultation.

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how much is my case worth

Have you or a loved one been in an accident? Accidents leave many victims in severe pain and unable to work. Medical bills and other expenses swallow up a victim’s savings and other assets. People who are feeling stressed financially often ask, “How much is my case worth?” The answer to this question is simple: Your case is worth whatever you can get an insurance company to offer you in a settlement or an amount you can get a jury to agree to in court. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the factors that go into valuing injuries in personal injury cases. Medical Bills You can receive compensation in an accident for your medical care to treat your injuries. Medical care can include: Cost of an ambulance to the hospital Diagnostic tests and bloodwork Surgery Overnights in the hospital Anesthesia Prescription drugs Rehabilitation Occupational or other therapy Assistive devices (crutches, bandages, etc.) Follow up doctor visits Minor injuries like a sprain or bruise might only cost a thousand dollars to treat, but more serious injuries that need surgery can cost over a million dollars. You might also qualify for future medical expenses if you are permanently disabled. Someone with a permanent brain injury could need an at-home attendant for the rest of her life. Lost Wages Bad injuries might force you to take time off from work. You can get compensation for this missed work—even if you used sick time or personal days to cover your time away.  Find your most recent pay stub to check how much you make. If you missed a month of work, you can receive a month’s worth of wages. Property Damage If you were injured in a car accident, you could receive compensation to fix your car. It should be put back in the condition it existed in before the crash. You can receive compensation for any damaged property. Intangible Losses This is where things get interesting. With monetary losses, your lawyer can look at your pay stubs, medical bills, and repair estimates to calculate how much you can receive. But New Jersey law also allows victims to get compensation for non-economic losses: Pain and suffering. Did you break a leg? You can receive compensation for the pain you feel as the bone heals. Most physical injuries cause pain or discomfort. Mental anguish or emotional distress. Physical injuries can lead to depression or anxiety. The shock of an accident could cause post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The amount clients get for these kinds of losses will depend on the circumstances. Here, a quality lawyer can make a huge difference.  At our firm, we will do everything possible to document your pain, suffering, and emotional distress so you can receive a fair amount.   Compensation for a Spouse In some situations, your spouse might have a claim for “loss of consortium.” This type of suit recognizes that serious injuries can impair a marital relationship. For example, a spouse who is disabled can no longer be sexually intimate or provide the companionship he used to. Loss of consortium claims are not common, but you can bring one if your spouse suffered permanent disabling injuries. Punitive Damages These are rarely given. NJSA § 2A:15-5.12 allows a victim to seek punitive damages when a defendant recklessly or intentionally injures you. A motorist who drives into a crowd might qualify, since he has no regard for the safety of others. A jury awards punitive damages based on how much money they think would stop the defendant and others from acting this way. Limitations on Your Personal Injury Claim There are certain factors that can reduce the amount you can receive, even if you have very high expenses. We want to give you a heads up so you better understand how much compensation you can take home. The Size of the Defendant’s Insurance Policy  Most people you sue will not have the assets to pay out compensation, but they probably have an insurance policy. If you are injured in a car accident, then the driver should have insurance. If you were injured on someone else’s property, they should have homeowners’ or renters’ insurance. You might have $100,000 in medical bills and lost wages, but if the defendant only carries $30,000 in liability insurance, then it will be hard to get the other $70,000. You can sue the defendant personally, but he or she might not have the assets needed to pay up. Businesses usually have larger insurance policy, so adding a business as a defendant is good strategy when possible. Your Own Fault  New Jersey recognizes that sometimes accident victims contributed to their injuries by being negligent themselves. This is called contributory negligence. If you are more than 50% responsible, then you can’t receive money in a lawsuit. Even if you are 50% or less responsible, your compensation will be reduced by your proportion of fault. Imagine you have $100,000 in damages but are 40% responsible; at most, you can receive $60,000. That is how negligence works in New Jersey, so your lawyer will need to understand exactly what happened in the moments leading up to an accident. Damage Caps  New Jersey law limits the amount of compensation you can receive in some cases. For example, there are damage caps for punitive damages and caps for medical malpractice cases. Meet with Us Today As you can see, the answer to “How much is my case worth?” is complicated. You should schedule a consultation with an attorney to discuss your individual case. Please call The Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC, today. We have helped many clients get the compensation they need.

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how to get a speeding ticket reduced

It’s no surprise that speeding ranks in the top causes of fatal crashes in New Jersey. Statistics published by online news resource NJ.com state that:  In 2016, authorities issued more than 176,000 speeding tickets statewide; and, Of these, 110,000 resulted in a guilty plea or verdict. You do not have to be one of these statistics; there are options for fighting allegations.A total of 55,830 drivers resolved their speeding tickets through a reduction of charges or plea bargaining. Your first tip on how to get a speeding ticket reduced is to get a New Jersey traffic violations attorney to represent you in court. You might also benefit from reading the following information. Potential Strategies for Reducing a Speeding Ticket It’s rare – but not impossible – that you can beat a speeding ticket through a not guilty finding or dismissal. There is lots of evidence against you, including reliable speed measuring technology. Your best bet is to reduce a speeding ticket from a moving to non-moving violation. You can negotiate a deal with the prosecutor and plead guilty, but your punishment will not be as harsh as a moving violation. Your attorney will handle the legal tasks for you, but some of the steps for getting lesser charges are: Deciding what you’ll request as a plea, such as unlawful parking, driving without car insurance, not wearing your seatbelt, and others; Collecting evidence to bring to your hearing, including the ticket, your driver’s license, a copy of your driver’s record (certified by state officials), and funds to pay your potential fine; Appear in court early, so you’ll have a chance to discuss your case with the prosecutor; Negotiate a deal with the prosecutor by explaining your situation and why you would like the speeding ticket reduced to a non-moving violation. In some cases, you may not be able to work out an agreement with the prosecutor. Your driving history, the circumstances, and other factors may cause the prosecutor to decline. Even if you’re able to reduce your speeding ticket with the other lawyer, a judge must still approve it. The same factors may cause a judge to refuse your plea, so you could still have the original speeding charge. Implications of a Speeding Ticket in New Jersey It’s to your advantage to reduce your speeding ticket to a non-moving violation when you consider the financial implications. Depending on which citation you plead to, your fine may range from $46 – $54. You can also avoid having points on your driving record. If you don’t work out an agreement for your speeding ticket, you face the following sanctions: Fines  The amount you pay is based on how far above the speed limit you were traveling, starting at $85 for going under 10 miles above the limit. Your fine will hit $200 for speeding at 20-24 miles over and $260 if you’re speeding 35-39 miles over. Plus: Special rules apply to certain sections of roadway in New Jersey, including high fatality zones, construction areas, and schools. The fine will be two times the normal speeding ticket rate. Your speeding ticket also doubles if you’re speeding more than 10 miles per hour in a zone where 65 is the posted limit. Points  You will also get points on your driving record, which can be very damaging for some motorists. Again, the points are based on your speed: Less than 15 miles over equals two points; You’ll get four points for speeding by 15-29 miles over the limit; and, Speeding more than 30 miles above the posted limit is five points. If you get a certain number of points in 24 months, you’ll have three choices: Accept a driver’s license suspension for 30 days with a fee for reinstatement; Take part in and pay for a driver’s improvement program; OR, Request a hearing to present your side of the case. A judge will determine whether your driving privileges should be suspended. How an Attorney Can Help Reduce a New Jersey Speeding Ticket Legal help is critical when working out a non-moving violation. Having a lawyer on your side is a huge advantage. Attorneys know the statutes and legal issues in your case and can find weaknesses in the allegations. This makes it easier to negotiate your speeding ticket to a non-moving violation. Lawyers also know how to get a speeding ticket reduced because of their experience with the court system. They appear in court often, so the courtroom setting is familiar. They have the skills to negotiate with prosecutors and reach a compromise that benefits their clients. An attorney will always work to come to an agreement about your ticket if it’s possible. The goal is to reduce your fine and get fewer – or zero – points on your driving record. Discuss Your Options with a New Jersey Traffic Violations Lawyer The best strategy for how to get a speeding ticket reduced is getting legal help from a knowledgeable attorney. Traffic citation isn’t a serious crime, but the consequences extend beyond fines. There are implications that affect your wallet, personal freedoms, and your driving privileges. For information on how we can assist with your case, please contact the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC. We can set up a consultation at any of our five New Jersey locations.

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what is simple assault

TV, films, and pop culture often cause lots of confusion with assault and other related crimes. This uncertainty and misinformation also results from the assault statute’s complicated language. If you need a simple explanation of simple assault, you’ve come to the right place. So, what is simple assault? This overview can give you important information about simple assault, along with legal support from your New Jersey criminal defense lawyer. Definition of Simple Assault in New Jersey There are many different charges that may come into play when you’re in a fight with another person, whether it is physical or not. You could be arrested for simple assault if: You attempted to hurt someone, but didn’t touch him or her; or, You put another person in fear because you created a threat of physical, harmful contact. The New Jersey assault statute is crucial to know because it describes exactly what a prosecutor must prove to convict you. The elements of simple assault are: Intent to threaten or cause fear of harm to another person, such as through words or gestures; Reasonable thought from the victim who thought that physical harm would result from your actions; and, Actual harm to the victim, which may be physical in nature but is not required to cause bodily harm. In some cases, it may be enough that the victim felt threatened based on the circumstances, your words, and your gestures. Distinctions Between Simple Assault and Other Crimes Most confusion about assault comes from the fact that many people associate it with the term “assault and battery.” There are two separate crimes in this scenario. Battery is unlawful, non-consensual contact that’s offensive or harmful to the victim. Assault may or may not involve physical contact, so it’s often linked to battery. Still, you can be arrested for assault without making any contact if your actions create a risk of harm. How is simple assault different from aggravated assault?. In New Jersey, the offense crosses over to aggravated assault if: You try to harm someone under circumstances implying a disregard for the value of human life; You cause or attempt to cause harm with a deadly weapon; Your recklessness with a deadly weapon causes harm to another person; or, You commit a crime that qualifies as simple assault, but your actions are directed at someone designated by statute. Examples include law enforcement, fire fighters, or school employees. Penalties for a Simple Assault Conviction In most cases, simple assault is a disorderly persons crime in New Jersey. As a misdemeanor, you face up to six months’ imprisonment and a $1,000 fine if you’re convicted. Under certain circumstances, you could be arrested for simple assault if you’re in a situation with “mutual combatants”, such as a bar fight. You could be sentenced to 30 days in jail for a conviction on this petty person’s offense. An Attorney Can Help with Potential Defenses to Simple Assault Charges There are strategies to fight charges in any criminal case, so it’s important to remember that an arrest is NOT a conviction. A prosecutor must prove that you’re guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to get a conviction. With the help of a criminal defense lawyer, you can attack the prosecution’s case and create that shred of doubt. There are also other defenses to fight simple assault charges in New Jersey:  You were acting in self-defense or to defend others. If the other person was trying to harm you, or hurt another person, the evidence may be enough to defeat the charges. You could present proof that you were acting to protect your own property.  Because prosecutors must prove intent, you could beat simple assault charges if there’s proof that you never meant to cause assault. Remember that these defenses cannot prevent conviction for simple assault unless they’re presented to the court. Police only need probable cause to arrest you, but prosecutors need proof beyond a reasonable doubt. When your case goes to trial, the only way to make sure the judge hears your defenses is to raise them by motion. If you don’t have a legal background, you may not know how to file: A motion to ban evidence that was unlawfully obtained by a violation of your constitutional right against unlawful search and seizure; A motion to compel information that the prosecutor is holding against your interests; or, Motions to dismiss the charges for insufficient evidence. A skilled attorney has experience in motion practice, which could lead to a dismissal of the charges or an acquittal. A lawyer can also work on a plea bargain, which could benefit first-time offenders. Consult with a New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney Today Hopefully this summary gives you enough information to understand what simple assault is. However, you also need extensive experience and knowledge when it comes to legal representation in court. Our team can help with your case, so please contact the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC to speak with one of our lawyers. We can schedule a consultation to meet with you at any of our five offices in New Jersey.

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new jersey appeals

Unfortunately, mistakes do happen in criminal cases. Are you frustrated with a New Jersey court’s finding in a criminal case? If you are, don’t settle for an order that is wrong. Any order entered by a judge could have serious implications. You could even face several years to life in prison for a conviction that was based on error. Even for minor crimes, a sentence could include jail time, fines, and other punishment. Fortunately, you have options by filing an appeal with the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division. The process is complex, so you should rely on a New Jersey appeals attorney to help you. What is an appeal? In short, an appeal is asking the court to agree with you that the trial court made an error in deciding your case. The mistake could be based on facts and evidence, or it may be one where the judge did not properly apply the law.  A criminal defendant can challenge the conviction itself, but you can also file an appeal for a sentencing error. You cannot argue the jury’s guilty charge, but you can still raise an appeal on the basis that your sentencing does not follow New Jersey guidelines. Can I appeal any order of the court that affects my rights? You can only file an appeal once a jury has reached a guilty verdict and the judge begins final judgment. There may be other issues during your trial that raise concerns even before the order. For convenience and efficiency, you should wait to bring interim matters up until after the trial concludes. Others are interlocutory, which means you can take them before the court in later situations. Keep in mind the rule of double jeopardy in a criminal case: only YOU can file an appeal if you’re found guilty. The state cannot bring up the same charges through the appellate process. Which court will hear my appeal case? In most cases, your matter will proceed before the New Jersey appeals court. You cannot file an appeal to the New Jersey Supreme Court unless: An appellate court has already ruled on a constitutional question; There was a dissent at the appellate level; Your sentence was the death penalty at the trial level; or, Your case otherwise qualifies for appeal as of right before the New Jersey Supreme Court. Will I need to testify in an appeal? You will never need to appear in court when your case is on appeal, nor will any other victims or witnesses. An appeal only deals with the trial record which includes: All transcripts of all pretrial proceedings, including your arraignment, motion hearings, court appearances, and status conferences; All discovery, including documents, witness statements, depositions, police reports, and other records; A full transcript of the entire trial; and,  A record of the proceedings in connection with your sentencing. The court will look at the trial record and use legal concepts to decide if there was an error in procedure or law. There is no new trial, evidence, or testimony from witnesses;the appeal is based on the trial record, briefs and oral arguments from your attorney. There’s usually some questioning by judges and your lawyer will respond, but you will not be called as a witness. What happens at the end of an appeal? Success at the appellate level in a criminal case doesn’t mean you “win”; there are many actions the court could take. For example, the judges may:  Confirm the trial court’s decision, which means your conviction and sentence still stands; Order a new trial, re-starting the process; Change the trial court’s decision by adjusting your sentence or changing the instructions for the jury; Allowing new evidence for consideration, which only happens if certain facts are discovered under specific circumstances; or, Tossing the entire case, allowing you to avoid punishment. This is also rare and is usually the result of an extreme violation of your civil rights. Do I need to hire a lawyer to represent me? There is no legal rule that you need an attorney for the appeals process in New Jersey.  However, the complexities of appeals should be an sign that legal representation is critical – especially for cases where you face a long prison term, large fines, registration as a sex offender, and other consequences. A criminal record has serious implications for many aspects of your life. If there’s any error at the trial level, you owe it to yourself to fight injustice.  An attorney can help you by: Preparing the Notice of Appeal; Getting the transcript of your trial and associated records; Drafting the appellate brief, where you state the legal concepts to support your claim that the trial court’s actions were wrong; Appearing before the appeals court to argue your case; Answering questions and providing more information to appellate judges; and, Tackling many other tasks. Trust a New Jersey Appeals Attorney to Assist with Your Case If you believe there was an error in your conviction or other legal issues, talk to an experienced lawyer about your case immediately. To learn more about your rights and the appellate process, please contact the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC to schedule an appointment. We serve clients in a wide range of criminal matters at all stages of the process, including New Jersey appeals.

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shoplifting laws in nj

If you think of shoplifting as a harmless prank or minor offense, think again. There are very serious consequences for retail theft in New Jersey. Beyond the potential jail time, fines, and probation, you may face even more sanctions and consequences for a conviction. Shoplifting laws in New Jersey cover a wider range of acts than you might expect. Your conduct may result in a crime under the statute, even when you think you did nothing wrong. Remember that you always have the right to fight these charges in court, and let a New Jersey criminal defense attorney help you. Here is a quick summary of the laws, potential punishments, and strategies for protecting your rights in a shoplifting case. Acts That May Constitute Shoplifting You may think that New Jersey’s shoplifting laws only cover situations where you take an item off a store shelf, put it in your pocket, and walk out. However, there are many other forms of misconduct that could lead to an arrest, including: Any act of depriving the merchant of the possession, value, or benefit of merchandise; Concealing a product on your person or other location, which is for sale to other store customers; Removing, altering, or transferring a label that shows price or other data used to determine the value of merchandise—then trying to buy the item for less than the established value; Taking an item from its display and moving it to another area that shows a different price and deprives the merchant of its assigned value; Allowing or causing a person to “under-ring” merchandise to deprive the merchant of the full value; and, Removing a shopping cart from a store’s property, knowing that you were leaving the merchant without the use and benefit of it. In-Store Detentions Under shoplifting laws in New Jersey, stores, their employees, and security guards can detain people suspected of shoplifting. All they need to do so is probable cause, which means that they need evidence to convince others that you are shoplifting. From there, store employees can hold you under reasonable circumstances. Three factors may be relevant: The length of time you’re held; The space where you’re detained; and, Whether force was used to detain you. Any extremes with these factors could result in legal action. This could be a defense to shoplifting charges or a civil suit for false imprisonment and/or wrongful arrest. Shoplifting Grades and Penalties Charges relating to shoplifting proceed according to the value of the merchandise: You face a Disorderly Persons Offense if the items are under $200. If convicted, you could receive up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. It’s a Fourth Degree Crime if the merchandise has value of $200 – $500. A judge may sentence up to 18 months of jail time and a fine of $10,000. The charges may be Third Degree Crime for products ranging from $500 – $75,000. This could lead to 3-5 years in prison and a fine of $15,000.  You face Second Degree Crime charges if the retail value of the merchandise exceeds $75,000. For a conviction, you face at least five years in prison and up to 10 years’ jail time. You could also receive a fine of up to $150,000. Besides these sanctions, there are other implications for a shoplifting conviction. Theft crimes generally allow a judge to order restitution. This means you must pay back the merchant (the victim) that you shoplifted from. You’ll also be responsible for paying interest on the merchandise and court costs. There are collateral consequences to consider as well, since you’ll have a criminal conviction on your record. You could experience employment difficulties and other situations that need background checks. Defenses to Shoplifting Charges Despite the strict laws on retail theft, there may be strategies to fight the charges if you’re arrested. In any criminal case the prosecution must prove that you’re guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Without witnesses, the case can be difficult for a prosecutor to prove. The state may rely on security camera footage, so it may be possible to attack this evidence if it’s unclear or grainy. The prosecutor must also show intent – i.e., that you stole merchandise. It’s easy to pick up an item when you’re in a store and carry it around; you could forget that you’re even holding it. Under these circumstances, you probably didn’t mean to engage in retail theft. When you want to defend shoplifting charges, you must have solid legal counsel. You might be facing jail time, fines, restitution, and even more consequences. An attorney can help by proving weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case and presenting evidence to defend you. In some cases, it may be possible to work out a plea bargain to reduce the charges. Contact a New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer for Legal Help If you were arrested for shoplifting in New Jersey, legal representation is critical. Unless you have a legal background, you put your rights at risk if you try to handle the charges yourself. For more information on shoplifting laws and defenses, please contact the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC to set up a consultation. Our firm has five offices serving clients throughout New Jersey, and we are always prepared to tackle challenges in all types of criminal cases.

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nj drug laws and penalties

When facing any type of drug charges in New Jersey, it is important to learn more about drug laws and penalties. No matter how minor your drug charge case might seem, it is critical to hire a New Jersey drug defense attorney.  An experienced lawyer will begin working with you on a defense strategy tailored to the specific facts of your case. A criminal defense attorney at our firm can discuss your case with you. In the meantime, we want to provide you with more information about New Jersey drug laws and penalties. Drug Possession in New Jersey The New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice (N.J. Rev. Stat. § 2C:35-10) governs most drug possession offenses in New Jersey, including possession of drug paraphernalia (N.J. Rev. Stat. § 2C:36-1). Drug possession is when “any person, knowingly or purposely,” obtains or possesses, “actually or constructively,” any controlled substance without a prescription. New Jersey state law and federal drug laws classify drugs into five categories. Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous and have the most serious penalties, while schedule V drugs are the least dangerous and have the lowest penalties. Schedule I: examples may include marijuana or heroin; Schedule II: examples can include methamphetamine, cocaine, and oxycodone; Schedule III: examples can include vicodin, codeine, and other prescription painkillers; Schedule IV: examples include lorazepam (Ativan), alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), and diazepam (Valium); and Schedule V: examples include cough medicines containing low levels of codeine. The statute of possession of drug paraphernalia states that the possession of all materials used in anything from planting to packaging, ingesting or inhaling, or otherwise introducing controlled dangerous substance to the human body.  Examples of drug paraphernalia according to the statute include: Kits for planting or growing controlled substances; Tools used to process or prepare controlled substances; Devices used to increase the potency of a controlled substance; Testing equipment to determine the purity or strength of a controlled substance; Scales and balances used for weighing or measuring drugs; and Containers used to package controlled substances. Distribution of Drugs Under New Jersey Law New Jersey law (N.J. Rev. Stat. § 2C:35-5) makes it unlawful for anyone, knowingly or purposely, “to manufacture, distribute, dispense, or to possess or have under his control with intent to manufacture, distribute or dispense, a controlled dangerous substance or controlled analog.” The statute also makes it unlawful to “create, distribute, or possess or have under his control with intent to distribute, a counterfeit controlled dangerous substance.” Having a certain amount of a drug can increase the offense to a distribution offense. The amount of the drug will suggest that the defendant had the intent to distribute it.  Penalties for Drug Convictions in New Jersey The penalties for drug possession, distribution, and manufacturing convictions depend on many factors. These include the type of drug and the specific offense. Distribution and manufacturing charges tend to be more severe than possession charges. Even drug possession charges can result in many years of imprisonment. The following are possible penalties based on the classification of the drug offense: First-degree crime: This is the most serious of all offenses. Examples include large-scale drug distribution charges. Penalties include up to 20 years in prison and up to $200,000 in fines. Second-degree crime: Lower-scale drug distribution charges are an example of a second-degree crime. Penalties include up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Third-degree crime: Examples include possession of a Schedule I, II, III, or IV drug. Penalties include up to five years in prison and up to $35,000 in fines. Fourth-degree crime: Examples include possession of a Schedule V drug. Penalties include a term of imprisonment up to 18 months and a $15,000 fine. Disorderly persons: This is the least serious type of offense. Examples include possession of marijuana (50 grams or less) and possession of drug paraphernalia. Penalties include a jail term of up to six months and a $1,000 fine. First Offense Drug Charges in New Jersey and Diversionary Programs For low-level first offenses in New Jersey, an offender may be eligible for the Conditional Discharge Program for disorderly persons offenses. The Conditional Discharge Program allows the defendant to have the charge dismissed after a period of time. This is only as long as the defendant follows all the requirements of the program. Enrollment in this program means that the defendant will not get the penalties for the offense. They can also be eligible to have the charge dismissed if they complete the program. To be eligible for Conditional Discharge, the following must be true: No prior criminal record (be a first-time criminal offender); No previous entry into a diversionary program; and Be charged with a lower level drug offense. Program completion requires the defendant to pass all drug tests and stay out of the criminal justice system for six months to one year. If you are facing a higher-level drug offense (for example, a third-degree crime or a fourth-degree crime) you may be eligible for a diversionary program known as Pretrial Intervention (PTI)–a program for first-time offenders. They can have the charges dismissed after a probationary period of one to three years.  Contact a Drug Defense Attorney in New Jersey Are you facing drug charges? A drug crimes defense lawyer in New Jersey can assist you. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio LLC today.

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