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Asbury Park Criminal Defense Attorneys

When it comes to crime, there are no minor offenses, and guilty verdicts and convictions can follow you for life and have a significant negative impact on your future. Felonies such as murder, domestic violence, and sexual assault, have serious penalties, mandatory prison sentences, fines, and probation. If you are charged with a crime, hiring a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial to your case to ensure your legal rights are protected and increase the chances of having the charges reduced or dismissed.

Individuals who break New Jersey laws have committed a crime and have a constitutional right to legal counsel and be represented by a criminal lawyer, regardless of their guilt or innocence. Having legal representation ensures their rights are protected from the point of their arrest through the trial, and their conviction or acquittal. There are many types and levels of crime in New Jersey, including:

  • Armed robbery, burglary, robbery, and larceny
  • Arson
  • Assault and battery
  • Auto theft
  • Child abuse
  • Criminal trespassing
  • Cyber crimes
  • Death by automobile
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Domestic violence
  • Drug manufacturing, distributing, and possession
  • Drunk and drugged driving
  • Embezzlement, fraud, counterfeiting, and forgery
  • Endangering the welfare of a child
  • Identity theft
  • Illegal possession of a firearm
  • Indecent exposure
  • Insurance fraud
  • Kidnapping
  • Murder
  • Obstruction of justice
  • Possession and distribution of child pornography
  • Prostitution and soliciting
  • Racketeering
  • Rape and sexual assault
  • Resisting arrest
  • Securities fraud
  • Sex trafficking
  • Shoplifting
  • Stalking
  • Vandalism

Felony crimes are the most serious offenses and typically include lengthy prison sentences, heavy fines, and lifetime inclusion on the National Sex Offender Registry for sexually-based offenses.

Felony Crimes in New Jersey

In New Jersey, indictable crimes are divided into three distinct categories, felony crimes, disorderly persons offenses, and petty disorderly persons offenses, and carry a minimum prison sentence of one year. Crime degree levels and applicable sentences are as follows:

  • First degree: Crimes include murder, rape, armed robbery, manslaughter, drug manufacturing and distribution, and aggravated assault.
    • First-degree convictions can be punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison, or 20 to 30 years to life in prison for murder, and fines up to $200,000.
  • Second degree: Crimes include sex crimes, drug-related offenses, aggravated arson, kidnapping, white collar crimes, burglary, embezzlement, and theft of over $75,000.
    • Second-degree convictions can be punishable by five to 10 years in prison, and fines up to $150,000
  • Third degree: Crimes include arson, robbery, repeat DUI, possession of a controlled or dangerous substance, and theft of $500 to $74,999.
    • Third-degree convictions can be punishable by three to five years in prison, and fines up to $15,000
  • Fourth degree: Crimes include robbery, DUI, weapons offenses, stalking, forgery, possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana, and vehicle offenses causing injury.
    • Fourth-degree convictions can be punishable by up to 18 months in prison, and fines up to $10,000

When determining and imposing sentences for convictions, presiding judges must follow New Jersey sentencing statutes. All first or second-degree convictions result in mandatory prison time as part of sentencing, even first-time offenses. For all other convictions, the judge will determine whether the sentence will consist of prison time or probation.

Misdemeanor Crimes in New Jersey

Misdemeanor crimes are the lowest level criminal offenses, and are divided into the categories of disorderly persons offenses, local ordinance violations, and traffic violations with various levels of punishment, as follows:

  • Disorderly persons offenses: Crimes include simple assault, harassment, shoplifting and possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana, with fines up to $1,000. Disorderly persons offenses are typically handled at the municipal level where the crime occurred.
  • Local ordinance violation: Crimes include littering, public intoxication, loitering, disturbing the peace, and excessive noise, with punishments of fines and/or community service.
  • Traffic violations: Crimes include driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speeding, reckless driving, failure to obey traffic signs or signals, driving on a suspended license, and failure to yield. Traffic offenses are handled in municipal court and guilt or innocence and associated fines are determined by the municipal judge.

At Ellis Law, our team of skilled criminal defense attorneys are knowledgeable and experienced in the areas of violent crime, drug offenses, DUI/DWI charges, and property crime. If you have been charged with a crime in Asbury Park, contact one of our skilled attorneys today to ensure your rights are protected during all legal proceedings.

How Will Ellis Law Represent Me?

Adult Crimes

If you are charged with a crime, you are guaranteed the right to be represented by legal counsel under the United States Constitution. Our skilled criminal defense lawyers will review the charges against you and build a defense strategy with a goal of getting your charges dropped or reduced, while also crafting a strong legal strategy should the case go to trial. Your best interests form the basis of every decision we make, what we advise, and the strategies we develop for all of our clients.

Depending on the circumstances of your charges, we may be able to convince the prosecutor there is not enough available evidence to prove your guilt, in which case the charges will be dropped. In other cases, we may advise you to accept a plea agreement if offered by the prosecutor. Typically, this is the best course of action if there is a substantial amount of evidence against you and there is no other defensive option than to plead guilty. Prosecutors often propose plea agreements to avoid lengthy and costly trials, however, defense attorneys can also request plea agreements if they feel that is in their client’s best interests.

Regardless of the amount of evidence in criminal cases, you have the constitutional right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty and it is the sole responsibility of the prosecutor to prove your guilt at trial. We will build a strong strategy to prove your innocence or justify your actions, and it is the responsibility of our team to prove the prosecution has not presented enough evidence to prove your guilt.

Juvenile Crimes

New Jersey recognizes juveniles as anyone under 18 years of age. The New Jersey Code of Juvenile Justice makes several distinctions between adult offenses and juvenile delinquency charges, most notably, juveniles are taken into custody rather than arrested. In cases of filed charges, the state recognizes juveniles as “adjudicated delinquent” under the law, rather than convicted.

Juveniles are afforded the same rights as adult offenders, with the exception of bail. Juveniles who are placed in detention awaiting trial do not have the right for release on bail, but do have the following rights:

  • Burden of proof belongs to the state to prove beyond a reasonable doubt
  • Presumption of innocence until proven guilty
  • Right to confront witnesses against them
  • Right of compulsory process to obtain witnesses on the juvenile’s behalf
  • Right to testify and the right to not testify

Judicial proceedings for juveniles are handled in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, under the Code of Juvenile Justice. During juvenile proceedings, decisions and punishments are decided entirely by the presiding judge, not a jury.

The majority of juvenile cases are handled in the Family Part, with the exception of motor vehicle offenses, municipal curfew violations, or smoking in a public place, which are considered adult crimes and tried in regular courtrooms. If you are an Asbury Park parent of a juvenile charged with a crime, the juvenile criminal defense attorneys at Ellis Law are available to review your case and advocate for your child.

Will My Record be Cleared?

Having a criminal record can follow you for years and affect your ability to find employment, secure housing, obtain a loan, and more. Even misdemeanor convictions can have a negative impact on your life. While you are legally required to disclose your criminal history when filling out applications, you may be eligible to have your record expunged and sealed, depending on the crime. Once records are expunged and sealed by the court, your record will be cleared of any arrests or convictions, and you no longer have to disclose any criminal history.

The majority of juvenile offenders are eligible to have their records expunged once the become 18 years of age, depending on the crime committed and so long as they have maintained a clean record since their conviction.

Expungement carries certain eligibility requirements and restrictions our skilled Asbury Park criminal defense lawyers can advise you on what level of access to expect and how your records may affect your future with the expungement offered.

Asbury Park Criminal Defense Attorneys at Ellis Law Will Vigorously Defend You

Call Ellis Law at 732-308-0200 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.