When charged with a crime, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and nervous. But you don’t have to deal with the charges alone. By working with an experienced and qualified Middlesex County criminal lawyer, you could have your charges reduced or potentially dropped altogether. Knowledge is power, and your attorney can help you understand the specifics of your charges and the best way to build a defense for your case.
Types of Criminal Charges a Middlesex County Criminal Lawyer Can Help You Handle
A criminal charge in New Jersey can either be an indictable offense or a non-indictable offense (also known as a disorderly persons offense). Indictable offenses are for more severe cases and have penalties including more than six months in jail. Disorderly persons offenses, on the other hand, are less severe. Although they can still include jail time, alleged criminals will face less than six months of incarceration.
Indictable offenses are also required to go before a grand jury prior to any court trials. The grand jury may pass a no-bill (refusal to indict) if they feel there’s not enough evidence to support a full trial. If the case does go to trial, indictable offenses are handled in the Superior Court, whereas non-indictable offenses are handled in the Municipal Courts.
When a Middlesex County Criminal Lawyer Can Help
There are plenty of laws New Jersey citizens are required to obey. Breaking those laws could result in a charge for a criminal offense. A Middlesex County criminal lawyer can help you navigate the court process of a variety of criminal charges.
Criminal mischief is a common criminal complaint and can be either a disorderly persons offense or an indictable offense. According to N.J.S.A. 2C:17-3, criminal mischief is when a defendant purposely or knowingly damages the tangible property of another or purposefully or recklessly tampers with the tangible property of another in such a way that the person or their property is endangered. Examples of criminal mischief include:
- Tampering with water or gas mains
- Tampering with a grave
In minor cases of criminal mischief (in which the damages are no more than $500 in value), defendants are charged with a disorderly persons offense. Charges can elevate to a fourth-degree indictable offense if the damages are valued between $500 and $2000 or there was any impairment to air traffic devices or aviation facilities. More severe criminal mischief cases (such as tampering with human remains, interrupting public utility services, or damaging a research facility) are considered third-degree criminal offenses.
Criminal trespass is defined as the unlawful entry of a structure/property under N.J.S.A. 2C:18-3 and is often an indictable offense. There are three main types of criminal trespass, each with its own associated charges and punishments.
- Unlicensed Entry of Structures – If you enter a building without authorization, it’s considered unlicensed entry of a structure. Is the entered structure is another person’s home or part of a school? Then the defendant could face a fourth-degree indictable offense.
- Unlawful Peering into Windows – Also known as peeping, unlawful peering into windows is also considered a fourth-degree indictable offense.
- Defiant Trespasser – Choosing to enter a property despite being given notice to stay off the premises makes a defendant a defiant trespasser. This is considered a petty disorderly persons offense.
N.J.S.A 2C:33-2 defines disorderly conduct as a disorderly persons violation. According to New Jersey law, disorderly conduct is the act of engaging in violent or tumultuous behavior or creating a hazardous or potentially dangerous situation that serves no legitimate purpose. Examples of disorderly conduct include:
- The use of loud, obnoxious, or discriminatory language
- Blocking a road or sidewalk
- Damaging public property
In order for a defendant to be convicted of a disorderly conduct charge, the prosecution has to prove that the incident happened in a public place. Any location a substantial group of people has access to is considered a public place. This includes apartment complexes, sidewalks, and highways.
When you’re arrested, it’s always best to follow directions given by law enforcement and remain civil if possible. However, the natural instinct to react in panic and stimulate the flight or fight responses tends to be strong. According to N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2, a defendant can be charged with resisting arrest if they purposefully prevent a law enforcement officer from effecting a lawful arrest. This means that someone not under arrest can still be charged with resisting arrest. That’s typically if they attempt to get involved in the arrest process. A resisting arrest charge can be dropped if a criminal defense attorney proves that the original arrest was unlawful.
Most resisting arrest charges are considered disorderly persons offenses. However, creating a substantial risk of causing physical injury to a public servant or bystander can elevate the charges to a fourth-degree indictable offense. Charges can further evolve into a third-degree indictable offense if the defendant used force or violence against the officer or another person.
A Middlesex County Criminal Lawyer Can Help
If you find yourself facing a criminal charge, don’t face it alone. Trust a qualified and knowledgeable Middlesex County criminal lawyer to help. With over 20 years of experience as a criminal defense lawyer, Attorney Leon Matchin has dedicated his practice to helping his clients defend themselves in court. Criminal charges can be frightening, but there are ways to reduce or even have the charges dropped. Attorney Matchin will work hard to help you understand the specifics of your charges and build a strong defense for your case. If you need help with a criminal charge, don’t hesitate to call Attorney Matchin at 732-887-2479. You can also email him at [email protected]. The sooner you schedule a consultation, the better prepared you’ll be for court.