Introduction to Criminal Defense
What should I do if I am arrested?
The most important thing to remember is that the time of your arrest is not the time to plead your case. You must presume that everything that you say and do, including your appearance, mannerisms and demeanor will be recorded and scrutinized. It is in your best interest to only disclose information to the police through an attorney. If you have been arrested or are in police custody, you should request an attorney immediately. You do not have to consent to a search, or to answer any questions, if you are asked to do so until you have spoken with an attorney. If you resist arrest, a law enforcement officer may use force against you, even if you are innocent. It is important that you refrain from arguing with the police, and follow all of their commands.
What rights does Law Enforcement have if you are arrested?
If you are arrested, a law enforcement officer has the right to search you, to ensure that you do not have any dangerous items which may be used against the police officer. If you are stopped while in an automobile, in certain circumstances the law enforcement officials may have the right to search the vehicle, including the trunk, glove compartment, or interior. If you believe that the police are illegally searching your vehicle or house, YOU SHOULD NOT RESIST OR OTHERWISE INTERFERE WITH THE SEARCH. Evidence which is found in an illegal search may be excluded AT A LATER TIME.
What do I need to know if I'm stopped while driving under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances?
If you are stopped on the suspicion of driving while under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substance, the police officer may request that you take a field sobriety test, a blood alcohol content (Breathalyzer) or a blood test. You are not required to submit to this testing, however, if you refuse to do so, and are operating a motor vehicle on public roads, your license may be suspended for a period of time.
Presently the New Jersey Legislature has passed very stringent fines and penalties for driving while under the influence. Convictions for driving intoxicated will result in loss of your license and possible time in jail. A conviction for a third or greater offense requires 6 months in jail. It is in your best interest to refrain from drinking alcohol if you are planning on operating a motor vehicle. The present legal blood alcohol content (legal limit) has been reduced to .08. Even if you test within the legal limit, the police officer takes note and may testify about your appearance, mannerisms and demeanor, considering this testimony and the Court may find that you were intoxicated.
What if I'm charged with a Municipal Court Offense?
If you have been charged with a Municipal Court Offense, you are typically released until trial. You will receive a notice in the mail of your Court date - IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU ATTEND EVERY SCHEDULED HEARING DATE. In most cases, it is important that you have legal representation in Court and an attorney will be able to present your best case to prove your innocence or reduce your charge. If you are scheduled for Court before you have had the opportunity to meet with your attorney, tell the Judge that you intend on hiring a lawyer to represent you. In most cases, the Judge will postpone your matter so that you can have an opportunity to secure legal representation, and prepare a defense. Your attorney will request all of the evidence that the State has against you, to prepare your defense.
Can you afford an attorney?
Typically, the consultation for a criminal matter is $100.00. At that point, your attorney will be able to quote you a flat fee to represent you in Court. A flat fee depends on the complexity of the matter, the nature of the charges filed against you, as well as the time required to represent you. The fee is the same whether you are ultimately found guilty or not guilty of the charges, or if the case is dismissed. Upon review of discovery (the evidence that the State has against you) your attorney should be able to tell you your chances of prevailing in Court.
To schedule a consultation call 856-825-0700.
All the attorneys at Jacob & Chiarello: Frederick A. Jacob, Joseph M. Chiarello and Bohdan Zachariasevych represent clients for Criminal, Municipal Court and Traffic Offenses. Click on the attorney's name for their detailed profile. To schedule a consultation, contact Jacob & Chiarello at (856) 825-0700. The initial consultation fee is due at the time of the consultation.
The information presented is intended to provide a broad and general introduction to the topic specified, and is not intended as legal advice. Every legal case is unique and this information may not apply to you. You should not rely on it exclusively. There is no substitute for legal advice, one-on-one, from attorney to client and you should have a consultation with a licensed attorney if you want to know your legal rights.