Experience Getting Evidence Thrown Out in Court      I have been defending clients accused of committing criminal offenses for over a decade. Many of these involved drug possession and gun charges. These can be characterized as possessory offenses. They almost always occur following some kind of search. This could be the police searching your car, home, or person.  The issue of “possession” is a subject of its own. But before the state can prove the illegal item was yours, they have to get it into evidence. You can challenge whether police searched you illegally      That is where an experienced defense attorney usually does much of the heavy lifting in such a case. Indeed, the entire case usually rises or falls on this very issue. There are special rules involved in make such challenges. Those rules are governed by court rule, statute, and case law.  Motions to Suppress Evidence       What can you do if police searched you illegally? The first steps in a case like this are to usually handle any procedural preliminary issues. This includes entering not-guilty pleas and filing any appropriate notices. Contact will also be made with the prosecuting attorney’s office. This is done in order to obtain all case discovery and open a dialogue about the case.           You can challenge the evidence in a case involving a police search of your home, car, or person. This is done by first filing a motion to suppress evidence. The motion is a legal document that your attorney prepares. Its purpose is to put the state on notice as to what exactly you are challenging. It is critical to file such a motion well before any trial. It is too late to arguing these issues at trial. You would be surprised to see how often this unfortunately happens though.  After the Motion is Filed      Along with the motion, a proposed court order should usually be submitted. If the case is in Superior Court, a certification is also required pursuant to rule. Depending on the legal or factual issues, a brief may also be filed. A brief is basically your legal argument laid out on paper.       After the state responds, a hearing date will be set. The hearing not conducted in front of jury. Rather, a judge presides over the hearing as the finder of fact and law. At the hearing, the judge will hear any proposed testimony. The judge can also view exhibits. The defense attorney and prosecutor each present their witnesses and cross-examine the other’s.  Legal Standards      The rules of evidence are relaxed during a suppression hearing. This means typical objections such as hearsay will usually be overruled. This comes up a lot when a police officer is asked to testify about what someone else told them. For example, in a case where the officer was dispatched to a house, what was told to the officer by the dispatcher. Or, what was told to the dispatcher from an eyewitness or victim.       The burden of proof in a suppression hearing depends on whether a warrant exists. Defendants have the burden of proof if the search was conducted without a warrant. The burden is on the state if the search was conducted without a warrant. In Superior Court, the defense’s adversary will be the Assistant Prosecutor handling the case. In Municipal Court, the defendant’s adversary will be the Municipal Prosecutor. Who Opposes the Motion?       Assistant Prosecutors work full-time for the County Prosecutor. The County Prosecutor is appointed directly by the Governor. Municipal Court Prosecutors work for the municipality. They are appointed directly by the town committee or mayor. This depends on how the town is politically organized and structured.       It should be noted that the County Prosecutor’s Office must be noticed on all suppression motions filed in the state. This is required even if the case is being heard in Municipal Court.  The Warrant Requirement And Probable Cause       The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article I, Paragraph 7 of the New Jersey Constitution govern this issue. The both say: “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” Generally, a search must therefore be conducted with either a warrant or with probable cause. In some cases, additional requirements are required before police can conduct a search.  Probable cause exists when an officer has a well-founded suspicion of guilt. This may constitute something less than proof needed to convict and something more than a vague suspicion. State v. McKenna, 228 N.J. Super. 468, 474 (App. Div. 1998)(citing State v. Davis, 50 N.J.16, 23 (1967), cert.denied. 389 U.S.1054 (1968). Probable cause is not a rigid concept. It is a “flexible, nontechnical concept.” State v. Novembrino, 105 N.J.95, 120 (1987)(citation omitted). What Makes a Search Illegal?      This depends on a variety of factors beyond the scope of this article. Different standards apply to different types of searches. For example, searches of cars are subject to different rules than home searches. Searches of individual’s persons also depend on a variety of factors. Was the person already under arrest? Were they a passenger in a car? Were they simply walking down the street while “looking suspicious?” The law regarding each type of these situations is different and needs to be thoroughly understood by a defense attorney.       Courts determines the existence of probable cause by applying a common-sense, practical standard. Courts look to the facts of the case. The chief inquiry is whether a reasonable person would believe that an offense was being committed. What Happens After the Motion Hearing?       If the judge agrees with the state, the case proceeds like before. The state may now use the evidence that was taken after the search. If the judge agrees with the defense that police searched you illegally, that can be a game changer. In some many cases, without that evidence the state will not be able to prove the case. Proof in a criminal case must be beyond a reasonable doubt.       The state has two choices if they cannot proceed against you without the evidence....

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Former Prosecutor on Your Side. NJ Police can search your home without a warrant under very limited circumstances. As a defense attorney in New Jersey I have defended clients against warrantless police searches of their homes. In some cases police entered these client’s homes without consent or a warrant. It is often assumed that such a action is simply illegal. The result should be that all evidence obtained after that search should be thrown out. The answer to this question is not so simple.       The law on this issue is somewhat complicated. However, there is general presumption against such action. Many of these cases are successfully defended because of that. An experienced attorney may successfully obtain the suppression of evidence in your case under certain circumstances.  Why Do Police Enter and Search Homes Without a Warrant.      Why would an officer enter a person’s home without a warrant? This occurs for a variety of reasons. Police officers in New Jersey are sometimes but in very difficult decisions. Should an officer chase a fleeing murder suspect into a house without a warrant? If the officer does so, there is a chance any evidence seized after the arrest may be thrown out.       This could potentially result in the entire case being dismissed. Or should the officer play it safe, sit back and apply for a warrant? If the officer does not have enough backup to surround the home, the suspect could go free. This could endanger the public.       Conundrums such as this are why the law on this subject is not so straightforward. Typical charges that result from such cases commonly include gun and drug possession. If you were charged with any crime in NJ after police entered your home, call my office for help.  Exigent Circumstances       As a starting principle, the police should have a warrant before they conduct any search. The State bears the burden of proof when a search is conducted without a warrant. The can only meet that burden by showing that warrantless arrest or search falls within an exception to the warrant requirement.           On such exception is what is called exigent circumstances. This basically means that in some emergency type cases, police do not have to obtain a warrant before conducting a search. This is a requirement in a warrantless entry and search of a home. This applies in both federal and state court.  A wide variety of circumstances may give rise to such exigency. A court should look to the totality of the circumstances when determining whether such a search should be upheld.  Federal Case Example      In Johnson v. United States, an informant told police someone was smoking opium in a hotel room.Police responded and investigated. Upon arrival, they smelled “a strong odor of burning opium” coming from the room. They knocked and announced themselves as police.  They then heard some “shuffling or noise.” The defendant opened the door. The police entered without a warrant and arrested the defendant. They searched the room and found suspected heroin. They also found drug paraphernalia.  The Supreme Court declared the police entry and search violated the Fourth Amendment. Id. at 13-15. The Court noted that “[n]o suspect was fleeing or likely to take flight The search was of permanent premises, not of a movable vehicle. No evidence or contraband was threatened with removal or destruction, except perhaps the fumes which we suppose in time would disappear.” Id. at 15. NJ State Law Example      In State v. Holland, the Court stated that the smell of burning marijuana establishes probable cause. However, the court also stated that that smell did not establish exigent circumstances. Therefore it was improper for police to make a warrantless entry and. In that case, the established nothing more than probable cause that a disorderly persons offense is being committed. The warrantless home searches by police in this case resulted in the suppression of all evidence found. Burden is on the Prosecution      A warrantless entry or search of a residence is presumptively unreasonable. They are therefore constitutionally prohibited. This is unless the police can show “exigent circumstances in conjunction with probable cause.” They must also establish the reasonableness of the police conduct. The warrantless search of a person’s homemust be subjected to particularly careful scrutiny. This applies under both NJ and federal constitutional standards. The reason for this is because physical entry of a home has long been considered the most serious of intrusions.       Warrantless searches or arrests in the home must be subjected to particularly careful scrutiny. Only in extraordinary circumstances may a warrantless home arrest or search be justified.  State v. Bolte, 115 N.J. 579 (N.J. 1989). The state bears the burden of proof in such a search. All your attorney has to do is properly file a motion to suppress evidence in order to trigger that burden.  Hot Pursuit      One such form of exigency relates to “hot pursuit.” This is commonly misunderstood area of law. There is a misconception that such a search is always valid. This is inaccurate. Police in hot pursuit regarding a minor offense may not barge into a home if there is only probable cause.  However, that can change if the threat to public safety is substantial. The “hot pursuit” of a defendant who poses a threat to public safety may establish exigency.       A limitation to this exception applies when police have an arrest warrant. When a suspect flees from an arrest warrant, police may pursue them in most cases.  The Community Caretaking Exception to the Warrant Requirement.     There is also an “exception to the exception” of exigency. Police officers have a community-caretaking function. This is in addition to their law enforcement roles. Police can enter a home without a warrant under the emergency-aid exception.  Under the emergency-aid doctrine, The officer must have ‘an objectively reasonable basis to believe that an emergency requires that he provide immediate assistance to protect or preserve life, or to prevent serious injury.’ There must also be a “‘reasonable nexus between the emergency and the area or places to be searched.'”   Conclusion       As can be seen, this is a complex area of law. I have experience successfully fighting warrantless home searches by police. If the police searched your home without...

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Can I Sue? Were you innocently walking across the street when–wham!–you were hit by a car? Such a startling collision can result in severe injuries. If you were hit by a car in New Jersey, you may wonder if you can sue. In many cases, the answer is: Yes! You can sue a negligent driver for causing your pedestrian-car accident injuries. As an personal injury attorney in NJ, I’ve prosecuted and defended thousands of cases. Here, I’ll show you what criteria you must meet to sue a negligent driver in New Jersey. Keep reading for answers to the following pedestrian accident questions: What kinds of pedestrian-car accident injuries take place? Who can I sue for hitting me with a car? What kind of pedestrian-hit-by-a-car compensation can I receive? What Kinds of Pedestrian-Car Accident Injuries Take Place? Since Henry Ford began producing automobiles in the early 1900s, America has been the land of the automobile. In fact, the United States was the first nation in the world that encouraged cities to implement large-scale adaptation to cars. Unfortunately, this innovation comes at the cost of pedestrian safety. While many European cities have pedestrian-friendly zones, American pedestrians encounter danger by simply crossing the street. Because automotive drivers speed and pay little attention to pedestrians, tragic accidents often occur. Statistics Here are statistics gathered by the CDC that show just how prevalent pedestrian-hit-by-a-car accidents are: Nearly 6,000 pedestrians hit by a car were killed in the US in 2016; Almost 129,000 pedestrians sustained non-fatal car-accident injuries that required an emergency room visit in 2015; Pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely than car occupants to be fatally injured in a vehicle accident; Pedestrians age 65 and older are most at risk, accounting for 20% of all pedestrian deaths in 2016; and Pedestrians comprise 20% of child car accident fatalities. In addition to the thousands of pedestrians killed by cars each year, many more are seriously injured. Pedestrians hit by a car in NJ can sustain life-threating or life-altering injuries that require months or years of expensive medical treatment. Here are some common pedestrian-car accident injuries. Soft Tissue Injuries Soft tissue injuries include bruises and cuts, as well as tears to tendons and ligaments. Soft tissue injuries can leave a pedestrian hit by a car disfigured or require expensive plastic surgery. If muscle damage is not properly treated, such injury could leave the victim without full mobility. Traumatic Brain Injuries Traumatic brain injuries occur from the force of the car striking the pedestrian or from the pedestrian’s collision with the ground. While many concussions heal within a relatively short time, other brain injuries linger for life. Traumatic brain injuries can impact a victim’s ability to work or function independently. Spinal Cord Injuries When a car accident injures the victim’s spinal cord, it can lead to a devastating loss of mobility. A spinal cord injury that causes nerve damage may put the victim in severe pain. Such terrible injuries may leave the victim without the ability to work or live without assistance. Broken Bones The traumatic impact of a car accident can crush bones or send the victim airborne before their bones break upon landing. In either instance, the unexpected collision leaves the victim in a great deal of pain. It also impacts the victim’s mobility and may limit job performance. Serious breaks may require surgery. Emotional Damage The unexpected car accident and long recovery process following can impact the victim emotionally. The victim may become fearful of walking outside, experience anxiety when driving, or fall into depression. Emotional damage from physical injuries is eligible for pedestrian-hit-by-a-car compensation. Death Sadly, the trauma for many pedestrians hit by a car in NJ is too severe for a person to survive. Too many pedestrians are killed by negligent drivers each year. If someone you love has been killed in a car accident, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Who Can I Sue for Hitting Me with a Car? You can sue a negligent driver for hitting you with a car. This means you must prove a driver’s negligence meets four elements. Duty of Care The driver had a duty to drive safely and obey the laws of the road. Drivers must obey laws designed to protect passengers, such as stopping for a crosswalk. Breach of Duty The driver breached the duty of care. For instance, if a driver speeds through a crosswalk and hits a person crossing the street, the driver breached the duty to drive safely. Breach Caused Injury The driver’s breach of duty caused the pedestrian’s injury. If the pedestrian already had a broken leg before the accident, then the pedestrian can’t sue the driver for the broken leg unless the accident inflicted further damage. Damages Occurred The pedestrian hit by a car in NJ must suffer an injury that can be reimbursed by the negligent driver. For instance, if the pedestrian hit by a car suffered only a scratch that quickly healed, that wouldn’t be enough damage for a lawsuit. The harm suffered must be worth bringing to court. Even if a pedestrian was partially responsible for the accident, the pedestrian hit by a car may be able to sue. New Jersey law allows a plaintiff to recover damages if the defendant was 50% or more responsible for the accident. You can receive damages for the defendant’s portion of responsibility. For instance, if you suffered $10,000 worth of harm, and the defendant was 70% responsible for the accident, you could receive up to $7,000. What Kind of Pedestrian-Hit-By-a-Car Compensation Can I Receive? Pedestrians hit by a car in NJ are eligible for three types of damage awards. Economic Damages These damages include financial costs such as medical bills, property damage, and lost wages. All medical expenses, from over-the-counter medications to ER visits and rehabilitation stays, may be reimbursed as economic damages. Property damage might include destruction to something you were carrying or wearing in the accident. Non-Economic Damages Non-economic damages include your emotional suffering that...

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car-registration-new-jersey

Were you pulled over for driving with no registration in New Jersey? Forgetting to keep up with your registration is easy to do. With so many demands for attention among busy schedules, many people forget to renew their car registration. If you received a ticket for driving with no registration, you may be wondering about your legal options. As an experienced New Jersey defense attorney, I help clients deal with traffic violation tickets. Feel free to contact me, or continue reading for more information on how to handle driving without registration in New Jersey. I’ll cover the following registration questions: ●      What Are Your Options After a Ticket for No Registration? ●      Should You Pay the Ticket? ●      How Can a Lawyer Help? If you were pulled over with no registration, you should understand the law governing vehicle registration in New Jersey. What Are Your Options After a Ticket for No Registration? In New Jersey, a police officer is authorized to remove unregistered vehicles from the roadway. What’s more, police can charge vehicle owners or lessees for the towing and storage expense of an unregistered vehicle. A person driving with no registration is subject to a fine up to $100. Even if you follow all other traffic laws, a police officer can pull you over for driving without registration in New Jersey. Police officers also scan the license plates of parked cars, looking for registration violations. You might leave your car parked only to find it towed for a registration lapse. Even if you’ve recently moved to New Jersey, you have to update your registration. You must transfer your registration within 60 days of your move, or sooner if your vehicle registration from the previous state expires. Some drivers who are pulled over with no registration don’t have their vehicle impounded. However, this policy varies by city and police department. Though New Jersey law gives police the right to impound the vehicle, in some cases, drivers receive a ticket and an order to renew their registration. If your vehicle is impounded for driving without registration in New Jersey, you’ll need to complete the following steps: Call a Ride to Get to Your Destination There are stories of police leaving families with young children or elderly people stranded on the side of the street due to impounding a vehicle. Get a ride to a safe location. Renew Your Registration You must renew your registration before you can get your car back. Go to your closest New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) to renew your registration. You’ll need to bring the following items to get a renewal: Current driver license; Registration renewal notice, current registration, or license plate number; Auto insurance proof; and Payment for registration (credit card, money order, or cash). Get Your Car After you’ve renewed your registration and paid required fees, ask the police where your vehicle is being stored. When you pick up your vehicle, you’ll need to pay towing and storage fees, which accumulate each day. Should I Pay the Ticket? To get your registration renewed, you’ll have to pay the fine. However, if you received the ticket for no registration because of a mistake, you may have options to contest it. Proof of Correction Maybe your registration was current, but you didn’t have the correct tag or paperwork. The police officer should be able to verify your renewal on a police computer. Let’s say your registration is current, but you lack paperwork, and the officer can’t verify your renewed registration. In that case, take your proof of registration to the courthouse and ask for a certificate of correction. Stolen Tags If your registration tags were stolen, report the theft immediately to the MVC. Request paperwork validating your current registration and bring that to the courthouse to request a proof-of-correction certificate. Car Not in Use You may be fined for a car that hasn’t been in use for many years and thus lacks current registration. Perhaps your grandfather had a vintage auto that sat undriven for years. If the MVC says you need to pay expired registration for all those years, you can contest the fine. How Can a Lawyer Help? If you want to dispute your ticket for no registration, a lawyer can help you get your fine dismissed or reduced. Don’t think that you have to fight New Jersey’s harsh registration policies on your own. Find someone to stand up for you by calling me, New Jersey attorney Anthony Vecchio. I offer a free consultation, which allows us to discuss your expired registration experience and legal options. If you need someone to help you stand up to government bureaucrats, give me a call. 

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  • December 06, 2019
  • DWI
Do you have to lose your license under new NJ DUI law?

Recent changes to New Jersey’s DWI laws have eliminated driver’s license suspensions for many first offense drunk-driving convictions.  New Jersey has also reduced the driver’s license suspension period for second, third and subsequent convictions.  The new law, and update to NJSA 39:4-50, which took effect on December 1, 2019, and expires on January 1, 2024, dramatically changes the way New Jersey treats DWI convictions. While controversial in that critics argue the law reduces the deterrent effect of a prospective DUI, the law has the support of Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (“MADD”), the state legislature, and was signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy without significant opposition. Many legal observers and attorneys were surprised by this development, but the trend now is to enforce drunk driving mostly by the installation of ignition interlock devices instead of driver’s license suspensions. If you have been charged with DUI, call our office to speak with an experienced DUI attorney who consistently gets positive results for clients. New DUI Penalties First Offense If you are convicted of a first-offense DUI under NJSA 39:4-50 and your blood alcohol content (“BAC”) is .08 to .10%, you only be subject to a driver’s license suspension until you prove that you have installed an ignition interlock device on the vehicle that you principally operate, own, or lease. The interlock must remain installed on your car for three (3) months. There still exists the $250 to $400 fine and the $1,000 a year MVC surcharge for three (3) years.  You still must attend and complete the intoxicated driver’s resource center (“IDRC”) for twelve (12) hours served on two (2) consecutive days.   For a first-offense NJ DWI conviction with a BAC of .10% or above, the fine is increased from the above to $300 to $500 and the interlock period to seven (7) to twelve (12) months.  For a first-offense DUI conviction with a BAC of .15% or above, there will still be a mandatory license suspension of four (4) to six (6) months and still install the ignition interlock device. Indeed, interlock installation is now mandatory for all NJ driving while impaired or DWI convictions.  You can still be sentenced to 30 days in jail for any first offense DWI conviction regardless of your BAC. The new law does not change the penalties for an NJ DUI conviction from drugs. A drug-based DUI conviction still carries a seven (7) to twelve (12) month driver’s license suspension.  This applies to both prescribed drugs such as Xanax and painkillers and non-prescribed drugs such as heroin or even marijuana. Second Offense The new NJ law reduces the driver’s license suspension for second-offense DUI convictions from two (2) years, to now one (1) to two (2) years.  The fine remains $500 to $1,000 and the mandatory two (2) to ninety (90) day jail sentence still applies.  In some cases, it may be possible to serve the jail sentence for a second-offense DWI conviction in the IDRC rather than county jail.  The mandatory thirty (30) day term of community service and 48 hour IDRC also still applies, along with the MVC monetary surcharge. Third or Subsequent Offense The penalties for a third, fourth, or even tenth DUI conviction are the same as before. These penalties apply to anyone convicted of a third or subsequent DWI and include a mandatory fine of $1,000; six (6 months) mandatory jail, and a now “reduced” term of license suspension of eight (8) years, down from what was previously ten (10) years.  Not more than half of this sentence may be served in an NJ IDRC approved inpatient rehabilitation facility.  This option is only available if made a part of your negotiated or judge determined sentence. Changes to NJ Refusal to Submit to Breath Testing Penalties under NJSA 39:4-50.2 and NJSA 39:4-50.4 The new DUI law also eliminates the driver’s license suspension for a first-offense conviction of refusing to provide breath samples. Instead, like a first-offense DUI conviction with a BAC under .15%, the new law provides for mandatory installation of the interlock device in lieu of a driver’s license suspension. For a second-offense DUI conviction, the penalties are the same as for a second-offense DUI under the new laws, expect that the jail and community service do not apply.  The fines imposed for a first-offense refusal conviction are $300 to $500 (first offense), $500 to $1,000 (second-offense) and $1,000 (third or subsequent offense). Other Issues School-Zone DUI penalties under the new NJ DUI laws The new DUI law eliminates the enhanced penalties, and in fact the entire law against specifically driving while under influence of drugs or alcohol in a school zone under the old NJSA 39:50(g), which was repealed. The reasons behind this are unclear, but it is worth noting that the overwhelming majority of  “school-zone” DUI charges occurred after school hours when schools were not in session and no children were present.  The practical effect of the old school-zone DWI law in most cases merely enhanced the legal exposure of an individual accused of driving under the influence in urban, rather than suburban or rural areas. NJ Interlock installation, costs, and maintenance Interlock sales and installation are now big business thanks to the new DUI laws, which makes the installation of such devices now mandatory for all NJ DUI convictions.  The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (“MVC”) overseas the interlock program within the state.  The interlock is a device that is installed into the vehicle’s ignition system that prevents the operator of the vehicle from starting the car until they blow into a tube connected to the device to establish that their BAC is under .05%.  It is a criminal, disorderly persons offense to blow into another individual’s interlock device in order to allow them to operate the vehicle.  The person convicted of the DUI is responsible for the costs of installing, maintaining, and calibrating the interlock device.  The device can cost around $200 to install and must be “leased” from the interlock company. The monthly...

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How to Beat a Simple Assault Charge

Have you been charged with a simple assault in New Jersey? When emotions heat up, simple assault can follow. Simple assault often occurs in episodes of domestic violence, when arguing with neighbors, or in instances of public intoxication.  If you have been charged with simple assault, you know that there’s nothing simple about beating this charge. You need to understand New Jersey criminal law and develop a legal strategy to defend against a simple assault charge. An experienced simple assault NJ criminal lawyer can help with your defense strategy. Here are a few things you should know about how to beat a simple assault charge in New Jersey: What is a simple assault in New Jersey? What is the punishment for simple assault in NJ? Are there defenses to simple assault? NJ Assault Law Simple assault in NJ occurs when a person (N.J.S.A . 2C:12‑1): Attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another;  or Negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon;  or Attempts by physical menace to put another in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. This law means that you don’t even have to touch a person to get into legal trouble. If you threaten someone or cause them to fear serious bodily injury, you can be charged with assault.  Note that simple assault involves threatening serious bodily injury or attempting/causing bodily injury. So what’s the difference between serious bodily injury and bodily injury? The New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice ( Definitions, N.J.S.A. 2C:11-1) defines the two categories: Bodily injury means “physical pain, illness or any impairment of physical condition.” Serious bodily injury is “bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious, permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.” There’s another assault category, aggravated assault, that applies to behavior that escalates past simple assault.  What Type of Charge is Simple Assault? New Jersey law classifies crimes as indictable crimes, disorderly persons offenses, and petty disorderly persons offenses. Simple assault is usually a disorderly persons offense. If both parties agreed to fight, the charge could be downgraded to a petty disorderly persons offense. A petty disorderly persons offense is the least serious New Jersey offense that carries a jail sentence.  A disorderly persons offense penalty is up to 6 months in jail and up to a $1000 fine. A petty disorderly persons offense is up to 30 days in jail and up to a $500 fine.  Even though simple assault charges do not carry lengthy jail time, they become part of your criminal record. Having a criminal record can affect housing and employment options, so it’s important to beat your simple assault charge. What are the Defenses to Simple Assault? A skilled criminal defense attorney can help you beat your simple assault charge. Defenses against a simple assault charge include: Dismiss as de minimus assault. Your attorney may argue that your simple assault was de minimis in nature. This legal term means trivial or lacking significance. The argument asserts that the assault was so inconsequential that the court should dismiss your case. Suppress the evidence. If the judge grants a motion to suppress evidence of your simple assault, this may eliminate proof that you are guilty. A judge may suppress evidence on grounds such as relevance and unfair prejudice. Reduce to a lesser charge. Your attorney might request a judge reduce your simple assault to a lesser charge, such as harassment. Downgrading to a municipal ordinance violation may reduce the penalties involved with your charge. Even if your simple assault defense attorney cannot beat your simple assault charge, your attorney can request a reduced penalty. For instance, your attorney may convince the judge to give you probation and a suspended sentence. Along with sentencing, the judge might impose a restraining order between the parties involved in the simple assault. Get Legal Advice on Your Simple Assault Charge A simple assault charge brings serious consequences. You could wind up in jail, pay a hefty fine, and carry a criminal record. You need expert legal advice to help you beat your simple assault charge. To learn how to beat a simple assault charge, call New Jersey criminal defense lawyer Anthony Vecchio. Anthony has defended thousands of New Jersey clients and offers expert legal strategy for your simple assault. Call Anthony for a free consultation and start building your defense against simple assault.

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how to get a possession charge dismissed

A person charged with possession usually finds themselves in a serious situation—one that can result in jail time, fines, or suspension of their driver’s license. If you’ve been charged with possession of a controlled substance, it’s important to know how you might be able to get those charged dismissed.  Do you need to know how to get a drug possession charge dismissed? The most common ways to beat a drug possession charge in New Jersey involve denial, insufficient evidence, illegal search issues, and statutory defenses. Keep reading to find out more about which defenses might apply to your case, or contact a drug charges defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio. Defense #1: You Didn’t Commit the Crime This type of defense applies when you’re charged with any crime. If you didn’t commit the crime, you should not be convicted. The prosecution has the burden of proving that you committed the crime, so this defense might come up under various circumstances. The following examples show how to beat a drug possession charge:   The drugs weren’t yours. This defense is relatively simple. If the drugs weren’t yours, you didn’t commit the crime.   The drugs were planted.  This defense is difficult to raise because police testimony is highly trusted. Your attorney may be able to file a motion to release police files. These files may have information that would be useful in arguing that the drugs were planted.   You didn’t have constructive possession.  If the police didn’t find the drugs on your person, the prosecutor must show that you had actual control over the drugs.  Any evidence that the drugs may belong to someone else is helpful to argue against constructive possession.  For example, prosecutors might have a harder time proving constructive possession when multiple people live in the same house, or when police discover drugs in a car with multiple passengers.  Defense #2: Insufficient Evidence  The prosecutor must show beyond a reasonable doubt that you possessed illegal drugs. The prosecution’s evidence can fall short of this requirement. These examples show how to get a possession charge dismissed in a few different ways:   The substance wasn’t an illegal drug.  The prosecution needs to show that the substance they found is actually an illegal drug. For example, a bag of white powder might look like cocaine when, in reality, it’s only flour.  A crime lab analyst needs to verify that the substance is actually an illegal drug to satisfy this requirement.    The evidence has gone missing.  The prosecution will be hard-pressed to show that the substance found is an illegal drug if it is nowhere to be found.  Evidence is often transferred multiple times before it makes its way to a locker, and sometimes it goes missing.   The search was unlawful.  The 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. In many cases, police need a warrant to conduct a lawful search.  A warrant isn’t always needed, though. Police can search for items and areas where a person has no reasonable expectation of privacy. For example, if the drugs are in plain view, or a suspect gives police permission to search their car, the police can proceed to search without a warrant.  Entrapment Entrapment is when a police officer pressures or induces someone to commit a crime they wouldn’t otherwise commit.  While entrapment isn’t exactly a “bad evidence” concern, it is one of bad police conduct.   In drug enforcement actions, police will set up undercover operations. Entrapment often occurs when the state provides the drugs in question.   Defense #3: Statutory Defenses  Another possible defense is that you are legally allowed to possess the controlled substance, or you fall under a legal exception.  You have a valid prescription If you carry a valid prescription for a controlled substance, then your possession of that substance isn’t illegal.  Medical Marijuana In New Jersey, patients who carry a medical marijuana ID card are allowed to possess up to 2 ounces of usable marijuana per month.  This defense is never available on federal drug charges. However, if you’re being charged under state law, this defense might be available.  Good Samaritan Law In 2013, New Jersey adopted the Overdose Prevention Act to help reduce overdoses and fatalities.  The law gives immunity to people who seek medical attention for themselves or on behalf of someone else in connection with a drug overdose. The immunity protects them from being arrested, charged, prosecuted, or convicted for a drug offense.  Defend Yourself Against Drug Possession Charges with a Criminal Defense Attorney Do you need to know more about how to get a possession charge dismissed? Beating a drug possession charge is no easy task. The best way to make sure you’re aware of every defense that might apply to your case is to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Criminal defense attorneys use the defenses above and more to potentially reduce penalties or eliminate the charge altogether. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio to schedule your free consultation.

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How to Get Points Off Your License in NJ

Potential clients reach out to my office all the time asking how to get points off their licenses. Getting points on your driver’s license can lead to fines, increased insurance rates, and even suspension of your license. It’s critical that you act quickly and explore all possible solutions for removing points. In these cases, a criminal defense attorney can help. Find someone with experience handling these cases. In the meantime, if you have points on your license, consider the following options to reduce your points in New Jersey.  It should be noted however that motor vehicle offenses and points cannot be expunged under NJ law. How can I get points off my license in NJ?  Proactive Measures Go one year with no violations or suspensions  Takes three (3) points off your license.   The year starts on the date of your last violation or most recent license restoration.  Complete a Defensive Driving Program Takes up to two (2) points off your license.  Unlike other driving programs, the Defensive Driving Program is entirely voluntary and available to everyone. Courses are either online or in a classroom.  You can only use this program to remove points off your license once every five years.  You must complete the course with an MVC-Approved Provider.  MVC Ordered Measures Complete a Driver Improvement Program (DIP) Takes up to three (3) points off your license.  You can only complete this program if the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) sends you a letter giving you the option to take the course.  The MVC sends letters to people who accumulate 12-14 points in over two years. Drivers can take the course instead of receiving a 30-day suspension on their license.  If MVC gives you the option to take the course, keep in mind that it can only be used to subtract points once every two years.   You must complete the course with an MVC-Approved Provider, which include the National Safety Council and Superior Driving School.  Drivers must pay a $75 administrative fee to MVC, plus a training fee to the course provider.  Complete a Probationary Driver Program (PDP) Takes up to three (3) points off your license.  You can only take this course if the MVC sends you a letter ordering you to complete the program.  This program is similar to DIP, except that the Probationary Driver Program is for new drivers convicted of at least two moving violations during the two-year probationary period.  If you’re ordered to take the course, you will only be able to take it once.  You must complete the course with an MVC-Approved Provider, which include the National Safety Council and Superior Driving School. New drivers ordered to complete the program must pay the $75 MVC administrative fee, plus a training fee to the course provider.  What else do I need to know before completing one of these programs?  First, make sure that you’re eligible for the program before signing up.  Second, remember that each program has a timeline noted above. Make sure that you’re taking the program at the right time to reduce points on your license. Finally, keep in mind that once points are on your license, the MVC keeps them on your permanent record. So while you can get points deducted from your license, they never completely “disappear.” This factor is important because your insurance company may not consider your point deductions when it’s calculating your insurance rates. How long do points stay on your license in NJ?  As long as you don’t have any more violations or suspensions, you can get points removed from your license at a rate of 3 points each year.  The best way to keep points off your license is to drive safely and follow the laws of the road. If you do get a new violation or suspension, it will likely add more points to your license. Additionally, it starts the clock over, and you will need to go a whole year without a violation to get 3 points removed.  How does the NJ point system work?  Police add points to your driver’s license when you commit a violation. In NJ, more minor violations are typically 2 points. Severe violations, such as reckless driving, highway racing, and injuring another driver, are 5-8 points. For a complete list of violations, see the NJ Points Schedule.  If a driver gets 6 or more points on their record in 3 years, they are fined a surcharge. The surcharge is $150 for 6 points and an extra $25 for each point after that. MVC does not consider point deductions in assessing your surcharge.  If you accumulate 12 or more points, your license is suspended.  How can I find out how many points are on my license?  You can find out how many points are on your license by requesting your Driver’s History. MVC charges a $15 fee for driver history requests.  Contact a New Jersey Traffic Lawyer If you have questions about how to get points off your driver’s license, a New Jersey traffic attorney from The Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio is here for you. Contact us today for help with your case.

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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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