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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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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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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constructive possession of drugs

Facing drug charges causes lots of anxiety. As a first-time offender who doesn’t have any experience with the criminal justice system, it is overwhelming. Many people who are charged with possession of a controlled substance are charged because they were simply near the drugs. Legally speaking, this is called constructive possession, which allows a law enforcement official to arrest a person for drug possession even if that person did not physically possess the drugs. We want to provide you with more information about the constructive possession of drugs and the importance of having a New Jersey criminal defense attorney on your side during this process. What is Constructive Possession in New Jersey? You might have heard about distinctions between actual and constructive drug possession. If you do not have drugs, how can you be charged with possession of a controlled substance? The answer to this question concerns constructive possession. This is a situation where you did not have drugs in your possession, but you knew about the presence of drugs and they were in your control. Constructive Possession is Unlawful Under New Jersey Law  If you constructively possess a drug, you can still be charged with drug possession in New Jersey. The charges you face will depend on the type of drug that you possessed. Examples of Constructive Possession Cases in Which You Could Face Arrest There are many scenarios where a person may be arrested for constructive possession. The following are some hypothetical examples of scenarios that may require the help of a defense attorney: You own a car and allow your friend to drive the car on occasion. You know that your friend has been arrested for possession of marijuana. You suspect that your friend sometimes uses your car to buy marijuana. He gets stopped after running a red light, and the police officer finds marijuana in your trunk. You suspect that your friend left the marijuana in the trunk. You did not put the marijuana in the trunk, but because the car belongs to you, you may be charged with constructive possession of marijuana. Mary owns a home, and she rents a room to Lisa, who throws parties and talks about using methamphetamine. Lisa tells Mary that she stores drugs in the bathroom that they share. Mary thinks, “I should flush those down the toilet since it is my house,” but she forgets. Police officers get a search warrant for Lisa’s home, even though Mary owns it. When the police search the house, they find the drugs in the bathroom. Since Mary owns the home and knew about Lisa’s drug use, Mary could face constructive possession charges. Ned buys a small amount of a controlled substance and places it in his wallet. He visits a friend’s house and takes his wallet out of his pocket. Ned then puts his wallet in his friend’s living room and ends up forgetting his wallet at the house. The next day, the police search the house with a lawful warrant and find Ned’s wallet. At first, Ned is relieved that he did not have the wallet during the search. However, Ned is later arrested for constructive possession since the drugs were in his wallet. Seek Advice from a NJ Drug Defense Lawyer About Constructive Possession Charges Constructive possession is a confusing concept. The key takeaway is that a person can be arrested for constructive possession of drugs in New Jersey. If you are facing constructive possession charges, speak with a New Jersey drug crimes defense lawyer right away. Your attorney will help you learn more about your possible defenses.  Our firm has years of experience building defenses for clients facing constructive possession charges. Let’s start working on your case today. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio LLC for more information about the services we provide.

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kid gets arrested

As every parent knows, children sometimes get themselves into trouble. In some cases, they may end up in very serious trouble that lands them in the criminal justice system. The New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission reports that hundreds of minors are charged as delinquents each week. There are few things more stressful for a parent than learning that their child was arrested. If your child is facing charges, you need to know how to protect their rights and their future. Here, our New Jersey juvenile defense attorney highlights the most important things that you need to do in this situation. Four Things to Do After Your Child Gets Arrested in New Jersey 1. Find Out Exactly What Happened and What They are Facing Nothing should come before your child’s health, safety, and well-being. You need to be able to get as much information as you can about their case. There are laws in place that provide some protections to juvenile offenders. In New Jersey, the police should notify parents immediately about where their child is and what they are being charged with.  Among other things, minors receive quick initial hearings. Juveniles are often released to their parents after an arrest or detainment. However, there are some exceptions to that general rule. If you are having trouble getting information, your rights or your child’s rights may have been violated. An experienced defense attorney can help you get the answers that you need and deserve.  2. Call an Experienced Juvenile Justice Attorney If your child is facing a juvenile delinquency hearing, you should call a lawyer as soon as possible. Navigating New Jersey’s juvenile justice system is complex and confusing. A lawyer will explain the process to you and prepare you for the next steps and potential consequences. A New Jersey juvenile delinquency attorney will protect your child’s rights and interests, and protect them from suffering any long-term consequences related to the arrest. 3. Explore All Options for Rehabilitation There are many rehabilitative options for children in New Jersey’s juvenile justice system. A youthful indiscretion should not harm your child’s future. Law enforcement and prosecutors do not always make the process easy on children and their parents. In some cases, they may not give parents useful information about alternative options. A lawyer can help you make sure that your child is treated fairly and gets access to the services that they need. Many different options and programs are available in New Jersey. These include community service, paying restitution, counseling, or substance abuse programs. The goal is to protect your child’s rights and future and to get them back on the correct path.  4. Be Ready to Take Action to Get Records Sealed Parents should always make a plan to get their child’s records sealed. Start thinking about this as early on in the process as possible. You do not want a criminal record to impact your child’s ability to get into college or get a job. Under state law (N.J.S.A. 2C:52-1), most juvenile records are eligible for expungement. After enough time has passed and certain conditions have been met, your child will no longer have a criminal record. With proper planning, expungement of juvenile records can be done quickly. If you have questions about getting records sealed, a New Jersey expungement lawyer can help. Speak to Our New Jersey Juvenile Defense Lawyer Right Away At the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC, our New Jersey criminal defense attorney is a compassionate and committed advocate for juveniles. If your child was arrested or charged as a delinquent, our legal team is here to help. To set up a confidential legal consultation, contact us today.

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jail time for dui

If you receive a DUI in New Jersey, you could be facing jail time. How much jail time exactly? It depends on the specific circumstances of your case. Here, our New Jersey DUI defense lawyer gives an overview of the drunk driving penalties in our state. We address the three key factors that will determine how much jail time you will be facing if you are convicted of intoxicated driving. Jail Time for DUI in New Jersey: What You Need to Know Do You Have a History of Intoxicated Driving Offenses? Under New Jersey state law (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50), drivers are charged with a DUI if their blood alcohol concentration is 0.08% or more, or if a substance is impairing them. A key factor that determines jail time for a DUI arrest is their driving history. New Jersey usually punishes each drunk driving offense more than the previous one. The range of potential jail time for a DUI in New Jersey is: First time DUI offense: A defendant may face up to 30 days in jail. Second time DUI offense: A defendant may face between 48 hours and  90 days in jail. Third time DUI offense: A defendant will face a minimum of 180 days in jail. Are There Any Aggravating Factors? DUI conviction history is not the only thing that the state of New Jersey considers when penalizing intoxicated drivers. There are circumstances where a defendant could face more jail time. These are often referred to as ‘aggravating factors’. If an aggravating factor is present, you are likely to face more severe penalties. The most common aggravating factors in New Jersey are: Having a BAC level at or above 0.15 percent; Engaging in reckless driving while impaired; Getting a DUI while in a school zone; Getting a DUI with a child in the car; or Involvement in an accident while under the influence. The most serious form of DUI is vehicular homicide. If a drunk driver causes an accident that results in death, they may face felony charges and a long prison sentence. If you or your loved one was arrested for a DUI with aggravated factors, call a criminal defense lawyer right away. You must take immediate action in these cases. How Will You Defend Your Case? You will not face any jail time until you plead guilty or the prosecution proves the DUI charge and gets a conviction. How much jail time you will face in a DUI case depends, in large part, on the strength of your legal defense. Consult with a top-rated New Jersey drunk driving defense lawyer after being arrested and charged with a crime. Your DUI lawyer will review your case and determine how to protect your rights. One of the primary goals of New Jersey DUI defense lawyer Anthony J. Vecchio is keeping clients out of jail. When there are options to avoid any jail time — as is often the case with first time DUIs — Mr. Vecchio helps his clients get access to those options. Your rights and freedom must be protected during this process. Do not go up against prosecutors alone. Get Help From Our New Jersey DUI Defense Lawyer Right Away At the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC, our top-rated New Jersey drunk driving defense attorney is a strong advocate for clients. If you or your loved one is facing potential jail time for an intoxicated driving offense, we are here to help. To set up an initial consultation, please contact us today.

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dui first offense new jersey

New Jersey takes intoxicated driving charges very seriously. “If you drive impaired, law enforcement will arrest you,” states the New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety. In recent years, many counties, cities, and towns across the state have been increasing highway enforcement. Even a first time DUI offense could result in a defendant facing harsh consequences. This raises an important question: What is the punishment for a first-time drunk driving violation in New Jersey? In this article, our New Jersey DUI defense lawyer provides an overview of the penalties for a first offense in the state. DUI First Offense NJ — An Overview of the Penalties Under New Jersey law (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50), it is unlawful to drive while impaired. A key factor that determines the penalties for a DUI is whether the driver has a history of drunk driving offenses. Generally, first time DUI offenses are punished less than later offenses. A first time DUI is still a serious issue. The penalties for a first offense DUI in New Jersey may include the following: Up to $1,000 in financial penalties; Increased auto insurance costs; A three-month suspension of your driver’s license; Mandatory DUI classes; Mandatory installation of an interlock ignition device on your car; and Up to 30 days in jail. Aggravating Factors May Result in More Penalties In New Jersey, a defendant facing a first-time drunk driving charge could receive more penalties if their case has an ‘aggravating factor’. An aggravating factor makes a drunk driving offense especially extreme in the eyes of the law. There are several different types of aggravating factors listed in the New Jersey state statutes. Some of the most common examples are: Being ‘highly intoxicated’ — meaning a BAC level of 0.15 or higher; Having a child in the car or getting a DUI while in a school zone; Committing another traffic violation at the same time, such as speeding or reckless driving; and Causing an accident that leads to a serious injury or fatality. Depending on the nature of the aggravating factor, the penalties can vary. If you or your loved one was arrested for a first time DUI offense with an aggravating factor, contact a New Jersey criminal defense lawyer immediately. Prosecutors seek severe penalties in these cases — possibly including jail time. How Our New Jersey Drunk Driving Defense Attorney Can Help It is a huge mistake to view a first time DUI as a minor offense. A conviction will cost you money, time, driving privileges, and even career opportunities. Do not plead guilty without speaking to a criminal defense lawyer first. There may be options to avoid severe penalties. Anthony J. Vecchio is an experienced DUI defense attorney with lots of experience handling first-time offenses. He helps clients through their most difficult days. Mr. Vecchio will: Review of your case; Explain your rights and options to you; Make sure that the arresting officer respected your rights; Look for all available options to reduce penalties; and Build a strong, compelling DUI defense. Every intoxicated driving case is different. If you are facing a first time DUI in New Jersey, you need a lawyer who understands your case and will build a personalized defense strategy. In some cases, false or unfair DUI charges must be challenged in court. In other cases, the best strategy is to focus on reducing the penalties of a first time DUI. One mistake should not follow you for the rest of your life. Were You Arrested for a First Time Drunk Driving Offense in New Jersey? We are here to help. At the Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio, LLC, our New Jersey criminal defense lawyer has lots of experience with handling first time drunk driving cases. To set up a confidential review of your case, please call our legal team right away. We handle intoxicated driving cases throughout the state of New Jersey.

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As parents, we want to see our teenagers enjoy good times with friends. At the same time, we want to keep them safe, too. Allowing your teen to have a house party may seem like an ideal way for the teen to have fun while still being under your watch. However, teen parties can also easily cross the line and lead to teen drinking. As a New Jersey criminal defense lawyer who works with teens charged with underage drinking and parents who face social host liability issues, I want you to be aware of the potential consequences that you and your child could face if alcohol is consumed at your house party. Consequences for Underage Drinking in New Jersey First, let’s take a look at the laws that apply to underage drinking in New Jersey. In our state, the law is clear: You cannot possess or consume alcohol if you are under the age of 21. (See N.J.S.A. 9:17B-1.) There are a few exceptions to this rule, which we will address below. If you are under age 21, and you are caught with an alcoholic beverage at a school, in a public place or in a motor vehicle, you could be charged with a disorderly persons offense. You could face a minimum fine of $500, and you could lose your driver’s license for six months. If you are under age 17 at the time of the offense, your license would be suspended until six months after you turn age 17. (See N.J.S.A. 2C:33-15.) Additionally, under N.J.S.A. 40:48-1.2, a municipality can enact an ordinance that makes it illegal for a person under age 21 to possess or consume alcohol on private property. If your municipality has such an ordinance, and you are caught violating it, then you could face a $250 fine for a first offense and a $350 fine for any subsequent offenses. Also, you could lose your driver’s license for up to six months. Now, let’s look at the laws that apply to providing alcohol to minors in New Jersey. Specifically, the law you should be concerned with is N.J.S.A. 2C: 33-17. Under this law, you could be charged with a disorderly persons offense if you purposely or knowingly offer, serve or simply “make available” an alcoholic beverage to an underage person. The only exceptions to this law apply where the alcohol is provided to a minor (1) who is your child, (2) as part of a religious observance or (3) in the presence of and with the permission of the minor’s parent or guardian. So, as you can see, if you allow your teen to host a house party where alcohol is served to other minors, you could potentially face serious criminal consequences. Ways to Avoid Legal Trouble When Hosting Teen Parties The first rule to follow is simple: Never knowingly allow alcoholic beverages to be served at your teen’s house party. Additionally, the Alcohol Education Trust recommends parents take the following actions to ensure alcohol is not served at a party they host: Ask your child who is coming to the party and check to see if any of the teen’s friends have a reputation for drinking. Prohibit your teen from posting an open invitation on social media, which could bring unwelcome guests. While your teen will want you to stay out of sight, stay close enough to oversee how the party is going. Watch for guests who may attempt to sneak alcohol into your teen’s party. If anyone becomes sick or appears drunk, notify their parents immediately. Keep in mind: A disorderly persons offense is nothing to take lightly. The possibility of jail, fines and the loss of a driver’s license are serious matters. If you or your teen has been charged with a disorderly persons offense related to teen or underage drinking, you should get in touch with an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Our law firm can get to work on your case right away and review all of the options that may be available, including seeking a dismissal or reduction of the charge or enrollment in a pretrial intervention program. We also can assist with getting a disorderly persons offense expunged. Contact us today to discuss your case.

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Can’t get a job in New Jersey with a criminal record? This is a common problem people facing background checks must deal with who have made past mistakes in their lives but are now seeking employment in the state.  Thankfully, the law has changed significantly over the past several years making it easier for those with previous arrests and convictions to clear their records. Expungement law in New Jersey is governed by state statute. Specifically, NJSA 2C:52 and its subsections lay out the rules of who qualifies, what criteria must be met, and what the waiting periods are.  It also indicates what objections may be made by the state and prosecutor’s offices and what other limitations exist to expunging your record. Expunging NJ Indictable or Felony Convictions You can only expunge one felony conviction in New Jersey.  While there is an exception for more than one crime committed during a “spree”, this exception is a narrow one and usually fought aggressively by prosecutors.  It does not matter whether you received a concurrent sentence for crimes committed on separate dates.  It also does not matter whether a second crime or indictable conviction was committed in a different state. There used to be a mandatory 10-year waiting period to expunge an indictable (felony) offense in New Jersey.  A few years back in 2016, Governor Christie signed legislation that allowed people with certain felony convictions to apply after a five year waiting period through what is known as an “early pathway”.  This procedure places the burden on the applicant to demonstrate that an expungement of their felony conviction would be in the public interest.  The same law also created a way for successful drug court graduates to have their records cleared as well. The most recent change which took effect on October 1, 2018 further reduced the waiting period from 10 years down to six years.  This is probably the most significant development in recent years regarding expungement eligibility.  There is no need under the new 6-year pathway to go through the tedious uphill battle of the 5-year early pathway method.  It may make sense for those who have already gone the five years to simply wait until the six year mark to initiate the process. It is also important to keep in mind that the waiting period clock does not start ticking until you have completed your entire sentence, whether that be jail, prison, probation, or the payment of fines and/or restitution (also some exceptions are available in the event you were financially unable to make those payments). Some crimes are not eligible for expungement under any circumstances.  These include homicide, robbery, arson, and perjury.  Individuals seeking expungement of their felony convictions also may not have more than three other disorderly persons convictions. Disorderly Persons or Misdemeanor Convictions One significant change was made in the recent 2018 legislation regarding the expungement of disorderly persons convictions.  Previously, you could only expunge 3 such convictions (unless you had also been convicted of a felony). You may now include up to 4 disorderly persons convictions in a single expungement petition. There is a 5-year waiting period to expunge this type of conviction.  However, similar to the indictable early pathway method for felonies, you may apply for an early expungement of a disorderly persons offense after three years. Common disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey include criminal mischief, shoplifting and/or theft under $200, possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana or drug paraphernalia, harassment, and disorderly conduct. Expungement of Dismissed Cases A very significant change in the 2018 expungement law was to eliminate the so-called “PTI bar” that existed under NJSA 2C:52-14.  If you had ever had a criminal charge dismissed following successful completion of the pre-trial intervention program, than any prior or subsequent conviction was not eligible for expungement. The new 2018 expungement law eliminated this disqualifier. Charges dismissed through the PTI, Conditional Discharge, or Conditional Dismissal programs are still eligible for expungement following a six-month waiting period.  Charges that are dismissed in municipal court (not from a diversionary program) are now eligible for expedited expungements where no filing fee applies and the court takes care of most of the process. Veteran Expungements In 2017, the state passed legislation creating a veteran’s diversionary program for eligible service members of the armed forcers who suffer from mental health issues. This program is available for petty disorderly persons, disorderly persons, ordinances, and third and fourth degree offenses.  In such cases, the individual may be diverted from criminal charge and instead referred to resources tailored to assist the veteran.  Exceptions apply however for crimes involving violence or involving victim restitution.  Criminal proceedings may be reinitiated however if the veteran fails to abide by the program conditions. A veteran who successfully completes the Veterans Diversion Program can apply for expungement at any time following the dismissal of their matter. Challenges that Remain Some bars to expungement have not been changed by the recent legislation.  For example, a previous expungement still bars the expungement of an indictable conviction.  Other states have similar rules as well, making it very important to consult with an experienced attorney in the event that you have an out-of-state record. For example, in Florida, you may only expunge one dismissed matter, period! So if you expunged a dismissed case in New Jersey, then went to expunge the Florida matter, you’re stuck with the Florida criminal record. However, by doing the same in the reversed order, it may be possible to expunge both. There also remains a bar to expungement when the subject matter of the case is still being litigated civilly. Dismissals of charges that resulted from plea bargaining in exchange for guilty pleas and convictions for charges that are not expungeable are also still barred. Expunged records can also still be accessed and used by the state when determining eligibility for a diversionary program, when you are applying for employment with a law enforcement or judiciary agency, and in other narrow circumstances. Act Now!...

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