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Union County Criminal And Municipal Court Blog

Will legislators legalize recreational marijuana in New Jersey?

It might be hard to believe but a New Jersey resident gets arrested every 22 minutes -- on average -- for a marijuana crime. However, on May 15, legislators introduced a new bill that could make recreational marijuana legal if lawmakers pass it.

The bill would serve to regulate, tax and legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. It would also make New Jersey one of eight other states that have legalized the drug. One of the bill's other motives is to equalize the treatment of the races by the criminal justice system.

When are police required to give the Miranda warning?

Life as a person under the rule of law doesn't come with a handbook. That's unfortunate. The volumes of laws on the books in New Jersey and at the federal level fill libraries – literally. Some of the fundamental rules are codified in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, but not all. Over the course of two centuries, some have been added and refined. How can you possibly know what you need to know, and when?

The rights that are perhaps most important for private citizens in the context of the criminal justice system are those spelled out as part of the Miranda warning. You know the gist. You have the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney present. But as we have noted before, to protect your rights, it's important for you to be proactive.

College students should always fight drug charges

If you're in college in Cranford, you stand to lose a lot from a drug conviction. While many people assume that "everybody does drugs in college," or that shifting views on drugs like marijuana mean that drug charges amount to a slap on the wrist, law enforcement do not see things this way at all.

On top of the fines and possible jail time, drug convictions affect many areas of your life and education for years to come.

Failure to communicate could amount to waiving right to silence

A few months back, we offered up five facts every driver should know in the event of being pulled over by police for a traffic stop. The premise of that hypothetical was a stop for suspected drunk driving, but that's not the only situation in which the information could come in handy.

In New Jersey, you can be stopped for all sorts of reasons, and arrests can follow for a broad array of alleged crimes. Alcohol isn't the only substance that can cause impairment. If police suspect marijuana is involved, the traffic stop can escalate into serious drug charges. Regardless of the circumstances, however, one thing remains constant. You have rights. Do you know how to exercise them?

What's the implication of DOJ memo on federal drug cases?

Someone in New Jersey facing drug crime charges has a number of things to worry about. One major concern has to be about the nature of the case the government claims it has. Is the evidence solid or circumstantial? Is it even admissible in a court of law? These questions deserve answers and to be confident in the assessment of your case, it's wise to consult a skilled defense attorney.

Another issue that deserves examination is what court will be handling the case. Criminal matters can be handled at the state level or federal level. Depending on the nature of the allegations, a case could be handled in both. Understanding how cases tend to be sorted by prosecutors comes with experience, and that knowledge can help a defendant anticipate the route a case might take and possible outcomes.

Successful use of a self-defense argument

In one of our previous posts, we dove into some of the commonly used defense strategies to counter assault charges in New Jersey. Topping the list was self-defense, and as we noted at the time, one of the challenges of using it is that it shifts a burden of proof from the prosecution to the defense.

Instead of the state having to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the alleged crime, the defense takes on the job of showing that the defendant's actions under the circumstances were justified. Whether the charge is one of assault or threat, the possible consequences of conviction demand examining all possible options for a robust defense.

Ensuring reliability of child sex assault victim testimony

Children are suggestible. They don't always tell the truth, especially if they think telling another story will keep them from getting into deeper trouble. Sometimes they just haven't developed a vocabulary that allows them to express exactly what they want to say. These issues can have an effect on how sex crime cases involving children develop.

Because of that, all sides in such matters face unique challenges. Police and prosecutors need to take special care to make sure the evidence they gather from alleged child victims is not only accurate, but admissible in court. Experienced defense attorneys know they have an obligation to question that evidence for the sake of their client while showing proper care and respect for the alleged victim. It isn't an easy task.

Overview of drug charges you might face

While many people around the country focus on the decriminalization of marijuana and the severity of heroin overdoses these days, there are some points about drug charges that many people don't think about. Possession charges are only one of the possibilities that a person can face.

Understanding the various types of drug charges that are possible might help as you work on your defense. In some cases, the charge you are facing will have an impact on possible pretrial diversion programs that are available. For example, you likely wouldn't go to drug court for a trafficking charge, but drug court might be possible for a first time possession charge.

What's the penalty for displaying a fake license plate?

We are a mobile society. That is something East Coast states have recognized since the founding of the country. It is truer today than it was 200 years ago. All you have to do is walk through a packed parking lot and scan the license plates. Most might be from New Jersey, but many will be from other states – perhaps even Canada.

Do you ever wonder if any of those plates are fake? Do you think it's that big of a deal? For a group of individuals in Pennsylvania, and perhaps even some here in this state, this is a serious question as the state plans to level charges that the suspects participated in a scheme to rent license plates. What is less clear is whether charges will be brought against those who rented the plates. Considering that Pennsylvania is a New Jersey neighbor, some residents here might have reason to be concerned. Read on to see why.

Unreliable evidence means freedom for man jailed 27 years

Eyewitness testimony has the reputation of being the most damning evidence the prosecution can rally to make its case. But experienced New Jersey attorneys know that reputation is not necessarily deserved.

Typically, the narrative authorities cobble together about a crime is supported by statements from eyewitnesses. There might even be a confession from the defendant. But how were those statements obtained? Police bullying during questioning does happen and if there is proof it was used to leverage information from a witness or the suspect, it's fair to challenge that evidence as part of a robust criminal defense. The consequences of a faulty conviction are too high.

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