If you are accused of a crime in Haddonfield, protect your finances and your reputation. One of the best ways to ensure this is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. Below we discuss some of the main reasons why hiring an experienced lawyer is such a vital part of your defense.
Helping You to Avoid Jail Time
There are likely a lot of things that you want to do in your life. Going to jail likely isn’t one of them. Even a conviction of a less-serious crime may result in a jail sentence, and felony convictions can result in an extended period of incarceration. Consider the following sentencing guidelines for some of the crimes that a defendant may be charged within New Jersey:
- First-degree felony: Between 10 and 20 years
- Second-degree felony: Between 5 and 10 years
- Third-degree felony: Between 3 and 5 years
- Fourth-degree crime: Not to exceed 18 months
- Disorderly person offenses: Term not to exceed 6 months
- Petty disorderly person offenses: Term not to exceed 30 days
Furthermore, New Jersey courts follow enhanced sentencing terms for certain crimes, including:
- Murder: 30-year minimum and life without parole if the victim was a law enforcement officer, a child under the age of 18 and the murder took place during a sexual assault, or the defendant committed the crime intentionally or knowingly or hired someone to commit the crime.
- First-degree aggravated manslaughter: Between 10 and 30 years.
- First-degree kidnapping: If the victim is 16 or older, between 15 and 30 years in prison. If the victim is younger than 16, 25 years in prison without parole eligibility, or between 25 years to life without parole eligibility for at least 25 years if the victim was subjected to sexual assault.
- Human trafficking: 20 years without parole eligibility, or 20 years to life with no parole eligibility for 20 years.
An experienced criminal defense attorney provides you with your best chance of avoiding a lengthy jail sentence. Using your attorney’s knowledge of the law and skill in negotiation and persuasion may result in the following:
- Having your case dropped due to a lack of evidence or a violation of your Constitutional rights by the arresting officers
- Having your charges reduced, which may mean less jail time
- Finding alternative sentencing options—such as probation—that the prosecution will accept
Helping You Avoid a Criminal Record
In addition to protecting your freedom, an experienced criminal defense attorney may also be able to help you avoid a criminal record. Having a criminal record can impact your life in a number of ways, including by:
- Preventing you from obtaining certain jobs. Some jobs require a criminal record free of any convictions, or at least free of convictions of certain types. Some of the jobs that you may be precluded from having if you have a criminal record include jobs working with children, a career in nursing, or even a career as an accountant. Background checks are a common aspect of the hiring process for many jobs. The best way to have a clean background check is to avoid having a criminal record in the first place.
- Preventing you from desirable housing. Just as your criminal record can prevent you from landing certain jobs or being involved in certain careers, it can also prevent you from obtaining housing. Landlords are permitted to run a criminal history background check on potential tenants and can deny you the opportunity to rent from them if undesirable information is discovered during the course of that check.
- Preventing you from purchasing or owning firearms. Federal law prohibits the purchase or possession of firearms by individuals who have been convicted of certain violent crimes, including aggravated assault, arson, burglary, extortion, kidnapping, robbery, sexual assault, domestic violence, and certain weapons offenses.
- Damaging your professional or social reputation. A criminal conviction may impact your ability to remain in the profession where you are currently employed or cause you to lose clients once the word gets out. Additionally, criminal convictions can wreak havoc on your family relationships and can even impact the amount of custody that you are able to acquire for your children in a divorce. Other problems that a criminal conviction may cause include hampering your ability to get credit or purchase insurance.
- Causing stiffer penalties for future crimes. The sentencing guidelines in New Jersey for many crimes take into account the number of prior criminal convictions that a defendant has. Avoiding a criminal record now can help you to avoid harsher penalties should you run into future legal trouble.
A legal team skilled in criminal defense will assess all potential options in your case, including a reduced sentence or a diversion program that can help keep your record clean or free from more serious charges.
Helping You to Clear Your Record
If you’ve been arrested and charged with a crime, you likely have a criminal record even if you were never convicted. What this means is that the aforementioned problems associated with having a criminal record may be true even without a conviction. The expungement process in New Jersey can prevent casual access to your criminal record by prospective employers, landlords, and others. The criminal records still exist, but they are extracted from public view. Here are some highlights of the expungement process:
- Anyone who was arrested, charged, and found not guilty, or had criminal charges filed against them dismissed, may apply for expungement of his or her criminal record.
- A person can only expunge one adult felony conviction, three disorderly conduct convictions, and as many local ordinance convictions as they’d like. An individual can also apply to have any arrest that did not result in a criminal conviction expunged.
- Not all felony convictions can be expunged. Some examples of convictions that don’t qualify for expungement include murder or aggravated sexual assault.
- The New Jersey court system is unable to expunge convictions from another state.
- The most common reason for an expungement to be denied is due to a failure to disclose all prior convictions in the expungement petition.
Haddonfield Practice Areas
- Aggravated Assault
- Computer Crimes
- Drug Possession
- Juvenile Matters
- Post-Conviction Relief Applications
- Possession with Intent to Distribute
- Receiving Stolen Property
- Sex Crimes
- Theft Crimes
Contact Us if You Face Criminal Charges in Haddonfield
If are charged with a crime, have a knowledgeable attorney on your side to protect your rights, defend your freedoms, and keep the consequences of that charge as minimal as possible. For a free consultation and case review, call the Law Office of Matthew V. Portella, LLC, at (856) 310-9800, or contact us online.