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Under normal circumstances, the police need only a few things to charge a person with refusal. Although this remains true there have been certain case law clarifications that may provide a window of opportunity for those currently facing refusal charges. I have made these arguments and won. Not every attorney is aware of them.

Regardless it is important to understand what is necessary for the police to proceed on a refusal charge.

First they need to establish that there was probable cause for the arrest. This means that there was a legitimate reason to stop the motor vehicle. It also means that there were, in the totality of the circumstances, enough indicators that you may have committed the offense of driving while intoxicated. Probable cause is not the same as beyond A reasonable doubt. It’s a much lesser burden. None the less, the police must show that it was reasonable for them to act in the way that they did. The report will contain many different statements about how you looked, smelled, talked, walked, etc.

I represented a client who was charged with violations of NJSA 2C:29-1 and NJSA 2C:33-2. The incident was alleged to occur on the Newark Penn Station train platform while my client was waiting for a train. According to the police and a complaining witness, my client became disruptive and was arguing with other train passengers.

My client vehemently denied these allegation and stated that he simply had a disagreement with another individual waiting for the train regarding a comment that was made about his girlfriend. My client insisted that it did not become physical or even a loud verbal argument and ended has quickly as it started. However, the police got involved and escalated a the situation. At that point my client claimed that he was simply inquiring as to why it was necessary for the police to be involved and he was arrested shortly thereafter.

After being retained, I made the customary discovery demand for police reports and other items including any videos or audio. At the first conference date, the state was not able to provide the requested documents, that I argued will have apparent exculpatory value.

So you went out last night and had a few drinks. You get behind the wheel, and on your way home, you hear the sirens. The police are pulling you over. As DWI attorney in Newark and throughout New Jersey, I understand from dealing with hundreds of clients charged with a violation of NJSA 39:4-50 the sinking feeling that you may have experienced.

When someone is arrested for DWI there are several questions that a defense attorney will ask. Here is the opportunity to ask the first question. Was the stop justified? An officer cannot stop a vehicle unless he has a reasonable and articulable suspicion that a law has been violated. The term “reasonable and articulable suspicion” is a legal term which basically boils down to; was the stop warranted? Was your driving erratic, was there a complaint from a citizen, did you commit some type of motor vehicle infraction, was there an accident, or perhaps you were stopped at a checkpoint. If it was a checkpoint, there are stringent rules associated with this. The police would have had to follow a series of constitutional guidelines to establish that the checkpoint was legitimate. An experienced defense attorney will explore the reason for the stop and make sure that it is valid and justified. If the stop itself does not hold up to scrutiny, perhaps the remainder of the evidence against you would fall as well.

You pull over to the side of the road. The officer approaches your vehicle and asks you for your license, registration, and insurance. He claims to smell an odor of an alcoholic beverage emanating from your vehicle and asks you if you have had anything to drink tonight. Regardless of your response, the officer needs probable cause to believe that you are operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. He will observe your hand movements while you retrieve your documentation. He will also take note of the status of your eyes as well as your speech. In addition, he will ask you to step out of the vehicle to perform “Field Sobriety Tests”.

Clients frequently ask me about mistakes that the officer made when filling out the traffic ticket the received. Under some circumstances, those mistakes may become a defense to the underlying charge. However, those mistakes, especially if they are considered technical deficiencies, will not be fatal to the State’s case.

For example, if the defendant’s date of birth is incorrect or the name of the defendant is spelled incorrectly, those are most likely correctable errors and the court will allow the state to amend the ticket under most circumstances.

In other instances, the errors will be harder to correct. Specifically, errors that call into question the identity of the defendant, the time and date of the offense, or the nature of the violation, spell big problems for the prosecutor. For example, an incorrect car color, offense date, license plate, etc., may provide a defense lawyer with a strong defense to the underlying charge.

Understandably, sometimes people who have received traffic tickets in Newark overlook certain important information that appear on that traffic summons. Specifically, pay by dates or appearance dates (for court). This is not uncommon, especially when someone receives a ticket for something they perceive as being not too serious. However, the Court will issue a warrant for your arrest if you do not address the matter.

In some instances, a court appearance is required with a traffic summons. This is usually the case with traffic violations such as reckless driving, driving while suspended, high speed speeding tickets, no insurance. The more serious the violation, the more likely the appearances required box will be checked on your traffic summons.

Even in those instances that the box is not checked, that does not mean that you can ignore the ticket. Eventually, the court will issue a warrant if the matter is ignored.

In many, if not most harassment cases, the complaining witness is a private citizen as opposed to a police officer. This is because harassment, under NJSA 2C:33-4, usually involves some sort of alleged communication. This communication is not always memorialized in writing or recording. Therefore, the only basis for the complaint may be the statements of the alleged victim,

Even in instances where there are writings, such as text messages, emails, etc., or recordings, such as phone messages, the police will frequently elect to forego signing the complaint as the complaining witness and elect to have the accuser do so.

Whenever I represent someone who is charged with harassment offense in New Jersey, I always explore the possibility of requesting a probable cause hearing. A probable cause hearing is not a trial. It is a pre-trial hearing where the judge listens to a limited amount of testimony and determines, within the totality of the circumstances, viewing the facts in a light most favorable to the alleged victim, whether the case should proceed to the trial stage or be dismissed.

Shoplifting, a violation of New Jersey Criminal Code 2C:20-11, is a theft offense, the severity of which is determined by the total amount of the merchandise alleged to have been shoplifted.

Municipal Court shoplifting offenses are considered misdemeanor, or disorderly persons crimes. It will appear on a criminal record if convicted. There are special guidelines for the prosecution of shoplifting offenses that, in many instances, will prevent prosecutors from plea bargaining the charge in the Municipal Court. This is not the case in every municipal court in New Jersey. A municipal court lawyer with experience in courts throughout the state (such as myself) will have a better understanding of the posture each court as it pertains to shoplifting.

The bottom line, however, is that in some courts, shoplifting offenses must go to trial, because there is often no downside to going to trial, especially if no plea bargain is offered.

When you are issued a traffic ticket in New Jersey, the ticket itself typically does not give you the information you need, other than the your court date and violation code. What it does not tell you is that the fines you are subject to may be doubled in a variety of circumstances. The ticket does not tell you how many points you will be assessed, i.e. improper passing in violation of NJSA 39:4-86 is 4 points.

Speeding ticket fines will be doubled of the offense occurred in a 65 mph zone (if you are convicted). Speeding violation fines also double if you are convicted of driving 20 mph or more over the speed limit.

Also, if the traffic offense occurred in a construction zone or “safe corridor” and it is a traffic offense enumerated in NJSA 39:4-203.5, the fines will also be doubled.

Over and over again, police in every jurisdiction issue careless driving tickets to people involved in motor vehicle accidents, even though there was no one to witness it. In most cases, the accident involves two cars. In the majority of those situations, neither motorist believes they were at fault. In some instances, if not many, neither person is even aware how the accident occurred. Sometimes a careless driving summons is issued even when there were no other cars involved in the accident and there were no witnesses, i.e. driver runs into guardrail.

Nonetheless, police are quick to make their own findings, and issue a ticket to who they believe to be at fault.

Just because an accident occurred, does not mean that you drove carelessly. in fact, New Jersey case law says just the opposite. In order for the state to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, there must prove that the defendant lacked due caution and circumspection, and it resulted in danger or likelihood of danger to person or property. Both elements must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt

Pay attention to the fine print on your Newark NJ criminal complaint or traffic ticket. Ordinarily, there is going to be a court date listed near the bottom of the document. In many instances, the defendant facing a criminal or traffic offense wants to plead not guilty. So you follow the instructions on the ticket regarding entering not guilty pleas, right? Chances are, if you have done this, you have encountered some difficulty reaching court personnel and you are not sure if you need to be there or not.

One of the nice benefits that you receive when you hire a lawyer to represent you in Newark is you do not need to worry about the “administrative” end of things. This portion of the case for many “pro se” defendants is frequently the most frustrating. It can result in the issuance of warrants for your arrest and other unpleasant consequences.

I am often contacted by clients who have attempted to schedule a court date, thought they had completed the task, and received notification shortly thereafter that there was a warrant for their arrest for failure to appear. This can be a nerve racking experience.

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