Essex County Criminal Defense Attorney
All criminal cases in New Jersey are serious. All allegations of domestic violence can have immediate repercussions, and all DUI/DWI charges carry a litany of potential penalties. Regardless of whether you are facing drunk driving charges, drug charges, sexual assault charges, or charges for any other criminal or juvenile offense, you need an experienced Essex County criminal defense attorney on your side.
Did you know that all crimes carry the potential for jail time in New Jersey? Did you know that a DUI/DWI conviction is not eligible for expungement? Did you know that even being accused of domestic violence is enough to trigger consequences in all aspects of your life?
Experienced and Highly-Rated Lawyer for Criminal, DUI/DWI, Juvenile and Expungement Cases
Scott Gorman is a criminal defense and DUI/DWI defense lawyer who knows what it means to be arrested in Essex County. He is an unrelenting advocate for his clients; and, if you have been arrested, he can help you avoid unnecessary consequences. When facing charges, the most important thing you can do is to speak with an attorney as soon as possible, and we are available 24/7 to take your call.
Defense attorney Scott Gorman’s practice consists of representing clients in cases involving:
An Essex County Criminal Defense Lawyer for Felonies and Misdemeanors
Whether you have been charged with an indictable crime or a disorderly persons offense, you need to begin working on your defense immediately. Fines, jail time and other penalties could be on the table, and you need to begin working with an Essex County criminal defense attorney now in order to protect yourself to the greatest extent possible.
If you have been accused of hitting your spouse, stalking a boyfriend or girlfriend, or any other offense targeting a member of your household, you need an Essex County domestic violence lawyer on your side. Domestic violence cases move quickly, and the consequences of a conviction can be severe.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI/DWI)
In New Jersey, a drunk driving arrest can lead to loss of driving privileges, fines, insurance surcharges, mandatory alcohol education and counseling, and even jail time. As an experienced Essex County DUI/DWI lawyer, Scott Gorman can help mitigate (or avoid) the costly consequences of your arrest.
Scott also has extensive experience in cases involving serious drug crimes. He can help you if you have been arrested for cultivation, manufacturing, trafficking or possession with intent to distribute marijuana, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, methamphetamine, prescription pills or other drugs.
Expungement with the Help of an Essex County Criminal Defense Attorney
If your New Jersey criminal conviction is eligible for expungement, filing a successful petition could truly change your life. Attorney Scott Gorman can determine if you are eligible to file, and, if so, he can handle the entire process on your behalf.
In addition to handling adult criminal and DUI/DWI cases, Scott also has extensive experience in the area of juvenile defense. If you are facing charges as a minor, or if your son or daughter has been charged, Scott can begin working on your case right away.
Your Essex County Criminal Defense Attorney Explains: What Happens After You are Arrested in New Jersey?
So, you have been arrested and charged with an indictable – or criminal – offense in Essex County. What happens next?
1. First Appearance
The first formal stage in the criminal justice process in New Jersey is referred to as the “first appearance.” You will need to go to court and appear before a judge, and the judge will decide whether you will be released or held in jail until your trial. At your first appearance, the judge can either:
- Allow pre-trial release (subject to various “conditions”),
- Set bail or,
- Order pre-trial detention.
2. Pre-Indictment Proceedings
The next formal stage will be your indictment hearing before a grand jury. However, prior to this stage, the prosecutor’s office will need to review the evidence and decide whether it is sufficient to support criminal charges. After reviewing the evidence (and discussing your case with your attorney, if you have hired one), the prosecutor’s office will either:
- Move forward with the charges that have been filed,
- Recommend downgrading the charges against you or,
- Recommend that your case be dismissed.
3. Plea Bargaining is Better with the Help of an Essex County Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have hired an Essex County criminal attorney, they may also begin the plea-bargaining process prior to the indictment hearing. Depending on the circumstances of your case, a plea bargain could potentially result in:
- Further downgrading of the charges against you,
- A guilty plea in exchange for a reduced charge or sentence or,
- Dismissal of some or all of your charges.
4. Seeking Entry into a Diversionary Program
Another option at this stage is to seek entry into what is known as a “diversionary program.” If you enter into (and successfully complete) a diversionary program, then your charges will be dismissed and your case will be over. However, if you fail to successfully complete the program, your criminal case will resume.
If you have not entered into a plea bargain or a diversionary program before the date of your indictment, then a prosecutor will present your case to 23 grand jurors who will decide if your case should proceed. If the grand jury decides that the prosecution has enough evidence to continue to pursue charges, it will return an indictment, and you will be scheduled for an arraignment. If the grand jury decides that the evidence is lacking, your criminal case will not proceed, although the charges could be downgraded and prosecuted in municipal court.
Your arraignment will be scheduled within 14 days of your indictment. You are required to appear at your arraignment, and it is at this stage that the judge will formally notify you of the crimes with which you are being charged.
7. Trial and Sentencing
Finally, if your case has not been resolved prior to your scheduled trial date, you will be forced to stand trial. Unless you opt for a trial by judge, a jury will hear the evidence and decide whether the prosecution has met its burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If you are found guilty, the judge will consider all relevant factors and impose a sentence which may include fines, probation, jail or prison time, and other penalties.
How An Essex County Criminal Defense Attorney Will Prepare Your Defense
If you are facing criminal charges, you need a professional attorney with a strong drive and high success rate on your side. Having a good attorney can take your case from a seemingly lost cause — no matter what the circumstances — to one that has a fighting chance. While the success of your case is mostly impacted by your attorney’s abilities and legal knowledge, your cooperation and honesty are critical as well.
Many criminal defendants believe that once they hire an Essex County criminal defense attorney, their work is done and the attorney will take over everything. All the defendant has to do is show up at court and answer a few questions when directed. However, this is simply not the case. Your attorney will need your help from the very beginning in order to accurately represent your interests.
Think of your relationship with your attorney as a partnership — you share all the details you can about your case and provide as much thorough and detailed information as possible, and your attorney will take that information and use it to build your defense. Key to the partnership is your attorney’s understanding of you as a person and the overall scope of your case. Part of your help will include preparing and providing documents for your attorney’s files.
The Charging Documents
When you are charged with criminal activity, you are given a charging document – a complaint – that is typically prepared by the local police or prosecutor’s office. This document will include the statute or statutes that you have been accused of violating and it may provide a general description of the conduct that is alleged to be criminal. The complaint will also include the date and time of your first scheduled court appearance.
Your Essex County criminal defense attorney may try to gather a profile on your life and personality as part of his or her investigation into your case. The better your attorney knows you, the better he or she is able to accurately discuss your actions and present your character to a judge or jury. This may lead to many question-and-answer sessions between you and your attorney, or an extensive overview of your personal life, including family history, medical history and even interviews and statements from those close to you.
Another key piece of information you and your Essex County criminal defense attorney will need to go over is the timeline of events leading up to your conviction, as well as everything that happened afterwards. Perhaps you were involved in a car accident — your attorney will need to know things like where you were going, what you were doing earlier that day, what you had to eat and drink and what you did while you were in the car. Following the accident, what you did, where you went, and with whom will be equally as important in developing this timeline. You should be prepared to provide statements and details to your Essex County criminal defense attorney.
Q&A With Essex County Criminal Lawyer Scott Gorman
What is the statute of limitations for pressing criminal charges in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, the statute of limitations varies for different types of criminal offenses. For most crimes, the statutes of limitations are: (i) one year for disorderly persons offenses, and (ii) five years for indictable offenses. These limitations periods run from the date of the commission of the crime.
However, certain criminal offenses are not subject to any statute of limitations in New Jersey. These offenses include (but are not limited to):
- Causing or risking widespread injury or damage
Additionally, bribery of public officials, official misconduct and certain other similar related crimes are subject to a seven-year statute of limitations. Finally, when committed against a minor, criminal sexual contact and endangering the welfare of a child are subject to statutes of limitations that run, “five years [from] the victim’s attaining the age of 18 or . . . two years [from] the discovery of the offense by the victim, whichever is later.”
What happens if I miss a court date in Essex County?
Missing a court date in Essex County can have severe consequences. For example, if you miss your first appearance, the judge can immediately issue a bench warrant for your arrest. If this happens, you will be sent to jail while your case is pending.
What are the penalties for a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, disorderly persons offenses are lesser offenses like misdemeanors in other states. The penalties you are facing depend on whether you have been charged with a “disorderly persons offense” or a “petty disorderly persons offense”:
- Disorderly persons offense – Up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine
- Petty disorderly persons offense – Up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine
What are the penalties for a felony in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, indictable offenses are serious crimes that are typically referred to as felonies in other states. New Jersey has four “degrees” of indictable offenses with each degree carrying different potential penalties:
- First-degree indictable offense – 10 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000 for most offenses. The most-serious offenses carry up to 30 years in prison or life behind bars.
- Second-degree indictable offense – Five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000
- Third-degree indictable offense – Three to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000
- Fourth-degree indictable offense – Up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000
What are my rights if the police come to my home?
If the police come to your home, you do not have to let them in unless they have a search warrant. If the police say they have a warrant, you are entitled to see it, and you are also entitled to contact a lawyer immediately. If they don’t have a warrant, should you let them in? While it may seem like a good idea to show that you don’t have anything to hide, the reality is that voluntarily letting the police conduct a search without your Essex County criminal defense lawyer present is almost never a good idea.
What should I do when the police want to question me?
You have the right to remain silent, and you should exercise this right to make sure you don’t say something that could jeopardize your defense. If the police try to question you, politely tell them that you are exercising your right to remain silent and state that you would like to speak with your attorney. Also, try to remember when, or if, the police read your Miranda rights (“You have the right to remain silent . . .”). If you were questioned in custody without having been read your rights, this may prevent the prosecution from using your statements against you.
Is it okay to talk to my family members about my case?
Right now, the only person with whom you should be discussing your case is your Essex County criminal defense lawyer. The time will come when you can explain everything to your family, but if you talk to your family members now, the prosecutor’s office may subpoena them to testify against you in court. The same goes for your friends and social media: Until your case is over, you should not be saying, texting or posting anything that could potentially be used against you.
Do I need an Essex County criminal defense attorney if I am innocent?
Yes, unfortunately you do. Even if you are absolutely certain that you have not committed a crime, you must still defend yourself effectively in order to avoid a guilty verdict at trial. Studies have shown that wrongful convictions are alarmingly common, and, if there is evidence that puts you at the scene of the crime at the time it was committed, you could be at risk for a conviction.
Is it worth it to hire an attorney if I am guilty?
Yes, absolutely. Even if we assume that you committed a crime under New Jersey law (which you should not do), you could still have several different defenses available. Depending on the circumstances at hand, these defenses could result in a dismissal, or, at the very least, they could limit the fines and jail time that are on the table. The consequences of a criminal conviction can go well beyond your sentence, and you have every reason to fight your charges to the fullest extent possible.
Contact a Skilled Essex County Criminal Defense Attorney for a Free and Confidential Consultation
One mistake should not ruin your life. Let Essex County criminal defense attorney Scott Gorman fight to protect your future. To get started with a free and confidential consultation, call our Hackensack office at 201-489-9199 or our Morristown office at 973-796-3800 now.