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I just completed another driving while suspended matter in the Newark Municipal Court, where the underlying suspension was as a result of failure to appear and unpaid traffic violations in other New Jersey Courts.

The problems that a defendant faces with these suspensions issue are numerous. First, driving privileges can not restore until the underlying court cases are resolved. This could be one issue or many. There may be warrants that require the posting of bail. The matters will need be put back on the docket. Frequently, my clients have serious time constraints because they can not restore their license and they have to work. Before hiring me, they typically have made some attempt to try to resolve it themselves, but quickly realize the bureaucratic quagmire they are in. They can’t get straight answers from the courts and do not have a solid grasp on which courts still have a hold on their license.

I in no way want to dissuade an individual from trying to figure out how to fix the mess, but they should be aware. Unrepresented individuals in this type of situation typically leave many loose ends, and although they may think that the problem is resolved, they quickly find out that it requires more and more and more.

I represented a defendant charged with assault and disorderly conduct by the New Jersey Transit Police following a fight on a New Jersey Transit train between my client and another individual. The facts were somewhat troubling from the Newark Municipal Court prosecutor’s point of view, because it was alleged that my client had bitten the other individual during the course of the altercation, and scared him as a result.

Biting is always treated a little differently because of the possible consequences, i.e. disease, infection, permanent scaring, etc. However, in this particular situation, it was unclear (as far as I was concerned) whether there was any purposeful action by my client to inflict this type of injury given the facts of the situation as the began to reveal themselves.

Following multiple conferences with the prosecutor and the defense attorney for the other involved person, it was agreed that the disorderly conduct charge would be dismissed, and the assault complaint would be amended to a municipal ordinance violation and a $125.00 fine.

In State v Green, the Appellate Division held that the the Stalker Lidar speed measurement device has not yet shown to be scientifically reliable. Consequently, the speed reading, or the clocked speed, captured by this device may not be used as proof of speed. Stalker Lidar is a lasar speed measurement device as opposed to a radar based technology. It is becoming increasingly popular amongst police departments, including some notable Essex and Hudson County departments that issue a large volume of speeding tickets. Port Authority Police are also know to frequently use Stalker Lidar.

Usually, speed measurement devices used to clock the speed of a driver will be accepted by the trial court as scientifically reliable, i.e. K-55 Radar. However, scientific reliability is only one aspect of admissibility. In addition, there must be proof that the machine was properly calibrated and sufficiently tested both prior to and and the conclusion of the officer’s tour. Moreover, the State must show that the operator of the device had sufficient training and operated the radar properly.

This door has opened for speeding ticket defense lawyers on this one. However, the overwhelming likelihood is that it will close quickly. If you have been issued a speeding ticket, you should at least consult with a speeding ticket lawyer to discuss not only the availability of this defense, but others as well.

If you have a criminal conviction on your record, you may be eligible to have that record sealed through a legal process called an expungement. An expungement is a petition that is filed with the court on behalf of the individual seeking to clean his record. The petition must be in the proper form and comply with the rules as promulgated by the expungement statute. The process is paperwork intensive and requires a fairly substantial attention to detail.

Additionally, not everyone with a conviction on his record is eligible for an expungement. N.J.S.A. 2C:52-1 sets forth the requirements. The statute is confusing and the various subsections of the expungement statute mingle to produce some unusual and illogical results.

On many occasions I have spoken to potential clients who have attempted to file expungement petitions on their own. They have contacted me after having the petition denied for a procedural defect. This, of course, was after hours and hours toiling to complete the complicated paperwork and prepare all the mailing to the various agencies to be notified. This happens frequently.

In a recent article published in the Star-Ledger, a study was presented showing that New Jersey is more likely to deport non-criminal illegal immigrants than any other state.

Typically speaking, I am advocating on behalf of those people who are not citizens and have been convicted of a criminal offense. As the over criminalization of America continues, the number of offenses that can lead to deportation seems to increase each year. In the overwhelming majority of the cases that I handle, my client is in the country legally, frequently as a legal permanent resident. Nonetheless, a relatively minor offense can lead to removal proceedings.

What one must remember is that having legal status in this country at least affords the individual some due process rights, including a hearing. As the legality of the immigrant’s presence dwindles, so do those rights.

During the course of the last several months, there have been important U.S. Supreme Court case law decisions regarding the rights of non-citizen criminal defendants pleading guilty to criminal offenses.

In many cases, a non-citizen pleading guilty to a criminal charge has no clue that deportation may be a consequence of the conviction. Prior to these important changes in case law, the court nor the defense counsel was required to inform a defendant that deportation could be a consequence of pleading guilty to a serious criminal offense. Sometimes, a non-citizen may not realize this until they are in immigration (ICE) custody.

In the wake of thousands of deportations as a result of guilty pleas given by unknowing and misinformed non-citizen defendants, the supreme court held that (and I am summarizing) deportation is not a “collateral” consequence of pleading guilty for the legal permanent resident, green card holder, illegal alien, work visa etc. In fact, the court ruled, deportation is a direct penal consequence of a criminal offense and the defendant has the right to be informed of the possibility.

After a long and hard-fought battle, I finally achieved the success I had hoped for in the Elizabeth Municipal Court. My client was convicted of Driving without insurance. After he was convicted, he was then charged again in a different municipality with driving without insurance and driving while suspended because of no insurance.

Driving without insurance and driving while suspended are enhanceable offenses, meaning  that each time you get caught, or if the underlying  suspension is for certain reason, such as no insurance, the penalties become much more harsh. In this case, my client was facing mandatory jail, and YEARS of suspension (at least two but likely more).

I went back and filed for post conviction relief in the Elizabeth Municipal Court on the grounds that the insurance company never properly canceled my client’s insurance. After months of litigation, the conviction was vacated, and the case was given a trial date. At the time of trial, the state could not meet its burden, and the case was dismissed.

Has your child been charged with a criminal or traffic offense. Are you underage and been accused of a crime or traffic violation. I am a Newark NJ Juvenile attorney and represent minors/juveniles facing both motor vehicle and criminal charges.

Under most circumstance, when a juvenile is charged with a criminal complaint, the case will be heard in the Superior Court, Family/Chancery division. REMEMBER, just because the defendant is underage does not mean that they will sweep it under the rug. ACTUALLY, it is the complete opposite. The court proceedings will be almost identical to regular adult related criminal court matters. The penalties for the crimes are the same, including jail, fines, etc. In many instances, if the young offender is charged with a serious offense, the state will ask for jail time.

Additionally, it is almost always mandatory that the minor be represented by counsel, meaning that the court will requires it. Most Newark related juvenile crimes will be venued in the Essex County Superior Court in the Wilentz Justice Complex on 212 Washington St. in Newark. The defendant appears before a regular judge, and faces seasoned prosecutors.

There is typically very little uniformity in the Various NJ municipal courts regarding plea offers and commonly charged traffic and criminal offenses. As a New Jersey Municipal Court lawyer, I have appeared in MANY different municipal courts. Therefore, I am usually aware of how my clients charges will be viewed by a particular municipal prosecutor and judge.

This is a very important aspect of this area of practice. For example, if the defendant is facing shoplifting charges, there are some municipalities that have a no plea bargain rule. This means that the court has made a policy decision to strictly enforce shoplifting laws and will not allow for an amended charge unless there are exceptional circumstances. This means that a defendant facing a shoplifting offense in one of these municipalities will likely have to go to trial and make the state prove its case BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT.

This issue becomes especially important if you are facing immigration consequences because of your shoplifting charge. Shoplifting is called a crime of moral turpitude, and can be used against you in a deportation proceeding.

Have you been arrested for a drug related offense in Newark NJ. Depending on the nature of the offense, i.e. the type of drugs involved and the quantity, your case will be heard in either the Superior or Municipal Courts. Typically the municipal court will only have jurisdiction over disorderly persons drug related offenses, i.e, offenses involving less than 50 grams, possession of drug paraphernalia, being under the influence of a CDS, possession of CDS in a motor vehicle, loitering/wandering crimes, etc. Disorderly persons drug charges carry a maximum penalty of up to 6 months in jail and $1000 fine.

If you have been arrested for possession of most other drugs, including cocaine, heroine, prescription pills, etc., or you had more than 50 grams of marijuana, or you are facing drug distribution charges, you may be facing indictable criminal charges. In New Jersey,  more serious criminal offenses are called indictable offenses. Most states refer to these crimes as felony crimes.

Procedurally speaking, your complaint will originate out of the municipality where the offense is alleged to have taken place. Even if you are facing indictable charges, your complaint will provide a date for you to appear in the municipal court. However, you may also receive a notice to appear in the Essex County Superior Court Central Judicial Processing Unit (CJP). If you are facing indictable charges you will probably have to appear in one place or the other, but not both. If you are facing a disorderly persons drug offense you will have to appear only in the municipal court.

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