Essex County Defense Lawyer Serving All of New Jersey
If you have been charged with a crime in New Jersey, you are facing life-changing consequences. In addition to fines and jail time, a criminal conviction can result in devastating impacts for your family, your ability to work and your reputation within the community. With so much at stake, you have no choice but to take your situation extremely seriously. You need to do everything possible to defend yourself, and this starts with hiring an experienced Essex County defense lawyer.
Scott Gorman, has well over a decade of experience representing clients in municipal, superior, appellate and federal courts throughout New Jersey. He has helped hundreds of clients avoid unnecessary consequences in cases involving charges for drug crimes, domestic violence and other serious criminal offenses. With offices in Essex County and Morristown, Scott represents criminal defendants statewide, and he can begin working on your case immediately if that is what it takes to protect your freedom.
In-Depth Knowledge of New Jersey Criminal Law and the Defenses Available
Unlike other states and the federal government, New Jersey does not classify crimes as felonies and misdemeanors. Instead, the more-serious crimes are classified as “indictable crimes,” and the offenses that would typically qualify as misdemeanors are classified as either “disorderly persons offenses” or “petty disorderly persons offenses.”
Indictable crimes are then further broken down into “degrees.” The degree of a charge determines the penalties that are on the table (although, for domestic violence crimes and certain other offenses, special penalties apply). The sentencing ranges for indictable crimes in New Jersey are:
- First-Degree Indictable Crimes – 10 years to life prison (depending on the crime charged) and a fine of up to $200,000.
- Second-Degree Indictable Crimes – Five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to 150,000.
- Third–Degree Indictable Crimes – Three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
- Fourth–Degree Indictable Crimes – Up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Disorderly persons offenses and petty disorderly persons offenses carry lesser penalties; however, they still carry the potential for fines and jail time:
- Disorderly Persons Offenses – Up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
- Petty Disorderly Persons Offenses – Up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.
Identifying Potential Defense Strategies for Your Case
There are numerous potential defenses to charges for indictable crimes and disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey. When you hire attorney Scott Gorman to represent you, he will work closely with you to understand the facts of your case from your point of view, and he will use his experience to develop a comprehensive defense strategy focused on protecting you to the greatest extent possible. Depending on the circumstances involved in your case, a Essex County defense lawyer may be able to use the following defenses to protect you:
- Abandonment or Withdrawal – In some cases, presenting a successful defense can involve showing that, although you may have intended to commit a crime initially, you abandoned your efforts or withdrew from a criminal enterprise prior to a crime being committed.
- Alibi – If you were not present at the scene of the crime at the time it was committed, then establishing an alibi can provide a strong defense to criminal culpability.
- Duress or Coercion – If you were forced to commit a crime or felt that you were left with no choice but to participate in criminal activity, then you may be able to establish a duress or coercion defense.
- Innocence – While the prosecution has the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, if you have evidence to prove your innocence, then you absolutely do not deserve to be convicted at trial.
- Lack of Evidence – While proving your innocence is one way to avoid a conviction, it can also be enough simply to show that prosecutors lack the evidence they need to prove their case. If the available evidence does not prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, then you are entitled to walk free.
- Mistake of Law or Fact – Although it is generally not a defense to claim that you were unaware that your conduct was unlawful, if you mistakenly believed that you were engaging in lawful conduct (i.e. if you thought you had permission to use someone else’s car that you are alleged to have stolen), this may provide a complete defense.
- Self–Defense (or Defense of Others) – Self-defense and defense of others are what are known as “justification” defenses. Essentially, your Essex County defense attorney would be arguing that although you committed a criminal act, you were justified in doing so and therefore do not deserve to be convicted.
- Statute of Limitations – In New Jersey, many (but not all) crimes are subject to statutes of limitations. If the statute of limitations on your alleged offense has expired, then you cannot be prosecuted.
- Unconstitutional Search or Seizure – When the police stopped you, searched you, or raided your home or business, did they violate your constitutional rights? If so, any evidence obtained as a result of the unconstitutional search or seizure may be inadmissible in court.
- Other Constitutional Defenses – In addition to the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures, there are various other constitutional protections that can provide defenses to criminal charges in New Jersey as well. These include (but are not limited to), the privilege against self-incrimination, the right to counsel and the right to a speedy trial.
10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Essex County Criminal Defense Law Firm
With all that is at risk in your case, you need to do everything you possibly can to protect yourself. This starts with hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Your choice of representation is extremely important, and you should not choose a lawyer simply because he or she is the first lawyer you call. There are several questions you can ask both prior to and during your initial consultation that will help you make an informed decision.
Here are 10 questions we recommend you ask before hiring a criminal defense attorney:
1. Is my initial consultation free?
Your initial consultation with a criminal defense lawyer should be free. This is your opportunity to get to know the lawyer and decide if he or she seems like the right fit.
2. How much will it cost to hire an Essex County defense attorney?
Some criminal defense lawyers charge flat fees for certain crimes, and some charge hourly rates. You should leave your initial consultation knowing how you will be charged and with a reasonable understanding of how much you will have to pay.
3. Have you handled cases involving my charge (or charges) before?
In criminal cases, experience matters. You need a Morris County criminal defense lawyer who has significant prior experience handling cases similar to yours.
4. How have your clients fared in those cases?
Results matter, too. Although every case is different, you will want to know not only that your lawyer has not only handled cases similar to yours, but that he or she has achieved favorable results in those cases.
5. Do you regularly handle criminal cases in Essex County and Morristown?
Different courts follow slightly different rules and procedures, and different prosecutors and judges handle cases differently. As a result, you will want a lawyer who regularly handles cases in Essex County, Morristown and throughout the state.
6. What defenses can you use to protect me?
There are many potential defenses to criminal charges in New Jersey. While a lawyer might not be able to answer this question specifically until he or she has more information about your case, he or she should certainly be able to discuss possible defense strategies in general terms.
7. What should I do while my case is pending?
There may be steps you can take now to reduce your risk of a harsh sentence at trial. Your lawyer should be able to tell you what you need to know.
8. What outcome can I expect from my criminal case?
While no lawyer can (or should) guarantee any particular result, the lawyer you choose should be able to explain the potential penalties that are on the table and discuss possible outcomes of your case.
9. How can I get in touch with you during my case?
You should have access to your criminal defense lawyer by phone, text and email, and he or she should respond to your messages as soon as possible.
10. What are my next steps?
Finally, your lawyer should be able to explain each of the next steps in your case. This includes next steps for entering into a retainer agreement, next steps for building your defense, and next steps for your case as it heads toward trial.
Schedule a Free and Confidential Consultation with Essex County Defense Lawyer Scott Gorman
For more information about the penalties you are facing and the defenses you may have available, contact The Gorman Law Firm to discuss your case. To schedule a free initial consultation with criminal defense attorney Scott Gorman as soon as possible, call 201-489-9199 or tell us how to reach you online now. Our office is conveniently located in Millburn.