NJ Criminal Defense Law Firm

NJ criminal law FAQs

Benedict and Altman knows how important it is for you to understand your rights.  We hope the answers to the following questions help.

How much do you charge for my type of case?

We generally do not quote fees until we have had a chance to sit and meet with the clients and learn as much as we can about the case, because every case and every defendant is different.

Do you charge a fee for the initial consultation?

No, the initial consultation is free.

Can you promise me what will happen?

No criminal defense attorney can ever promise a specific result. We can only promise to devote our full attention and experience to your case, and to fight for you every step of the way.

What are my rights after I am arrested?

  • You have the right to remain silent or not to incriminate yourself
  • You have the right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure, though there are various regulations and exceptions that accompany that right
  • You have the right to an attorney
  • You also have the right to be advised by police about these rights, commonly called Miranda Rights

Once I have been arrested, when should I contact a lawyer?

It is never too early to seek out a criminal defense lawyer when you have been charged with a crime.  An attorney can find out information about your case, can advise the prosecutor on exculpatory evidence the police might have missed, and can advise you on what steps to take before your first court appearance.  An attorney who gets involved early enough can sometimes even talk the prosecutor into downgrading or dismissing charges.

I was arrested because of a police search of me or my property. Can we get the evidence suppressed?

There are rules and regulations that surround police searches.  The police can search your home, property, car, or financial records if they have probable cause to believe that they will find evidence of a crime, but only if they first have a search warrant or exigent circumstances.  The reasonableness of the search depends on the totality of the circumstances, so we would first need to learn everything about the investigation in a case before we can judge the quality of the search.  If a judge finds the search was unreasonable, the evidence must be suppressed.

When do the police have to read me my rights?

If you are a suspect, the police are required to read you your Miranda rights before conducting a custodial interrogation.

What happens if the police do not read me my rights?

Many people think that if the police do not read them their rights, the charges are dismissed.  This is usually not the case.  Instead, if a suspect is interrogated in custody without being read his rights, then the statement he or she makes may be excluded as evidence.

When do I have the right to a trial by jury?

Any crime that may be punished by imprisonment for more than six months automatically triggers the right to a trial by jury, no matter what the offense is.

I was arrested when I was younger.  Can I have the arrest and/or conviction expunged?

Expungements are available under the New Jersey Criminal Code for qualified individuals, but it is not automatic.  It is a process that requires the filing of a petition in Superior Court.

An arrest resulting in an acquittal or dismissal can be expunged at any time.  An arrest resulting in a diversionary program, such as Pre-Trial Intervention or Conditional Discharge, can be expunged six months after the program is successfully completed.

A disorderly persons conviction can be expunged if five years have passed since the completion of the sentence, if a person has no more than three total disorderly persons convictions, if a person has no indictable convictions (or diversions for an indictable charge), and has never had a conviction expunged before.

An indictable conviction can be expunged if ten years have passed since the completion of the sentence, if the offense is not statutorily barred for expungement, if a person has no other indictable convictions before or since (or diversions for an indictable charge), has no more than two disorderly persons convictions, and has never had a conviction expunged before.

In certain cases, an indictable conviction can be expunged after only five years since the completion of the sentence.  If you fall into this category, an experienced attorney can advise you whether you would qualify.

Youthful drug offenders can also sometimes have their convictions expunged early.

If you meet these qualifications, or if you are not sure, please feel free to contact Benedict and Altman for a free consultation.


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