Should I Hire a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

Lawyer Putting Documents In Briefcase

If you are arrested or charged with a crime in New Jersey, you will likely have already missed days of work due to time spent in jail or with the police, you may be facing hefty fines and court fees, you may have lost your license, and you may be facing innumerable other related financial difficulties. The idea of searching for and hiring a lawyer may sound, at first, like it will only make things worse. Why should you pay for a lawyer on top of all these other financial setbacks? Here’s why having an experienced NJ criminal defense attorney can be indispensable when fighting and resolving criminal charges that you’re facing in New Jersey.

Do I Need a Criminal Defense Attorney in New Jersey?

The United States Constitution guarantees all criminal defendants the right to have a criminal defense lawyer. This is not a right that applies in civil cases, only criminal. The government has recognized, since our country’s earliest days, that criminal proceedings can be complex, difficult to understand, and can result in some of the most significant consequences that the government can impose, including the loss of your liberty itself. The fact that a right to legal representation is written into the Constitution itself should be an indicator that an attorney can be crucial to ensuring that your rights are protected in criminal proceedings, whether you plan to fight your case or not.

If you were to attempt to proceed without a defense attorney representing you in a criminal case, the court itself would have a duty to warn you that there may be defenses to the charges filed against you, that you will be required to follow all applicable rules of procedure and evidence like a licensed attorney, and sometimes the court will also point out that your opponent in the proceedings is an experienced, professional criminal prosecutor with years of experience and dozens of trials under their belt. If the court itself has a duty to inform you of these facts, this should be another indicator to you that hiring a criminal defense attorney can be essential to protecting your interests if you are facing criminal charges in New Jersey.

Should I Get a Lawyer if I’m Charged With a Felony in NJ?

It should be obvious why you should hire an attorney if you are facing an indictable (or felony) offense such as aggravated assaultburglarytheft by deception, or unlawful possession of a weapon. You are likely facing years upon years in prison and tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. Attorneys’ fees quickly start looking like a drop in the bucket in the face of these potential, life-changing consequences. Furthermore, the criminal procedure applicable to indictable offenses tried in New Jersey Superior Court can be extremely complex. You will likely face a pretrial detention hearing, not to mention all of the pretrial motions, investigation, and review of relevant evidence that goes into preparing for a criminal trial.

Even if you are initially inclined to accept the state’s plea bargain, if one is available, you may not know whether there are obvious defenses applicable to your case. You may not know if the prosecutor is asking for an unusually high sentence, and you may not know what to argue in response to any such request for an unfair sentence made to the judge. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can assist you in navigating pretrial and trial procedure and can also help you determine what a favorable outcome might be for you based on the specific facts of your case.

Is a Criminal Defense Lawyer Needed for NJ Municipal Court Case?

Even disorderly persons offenses, similar to misdemeanors outside the state, can have hidden and extraordinarily severe consequences. You may lose a professional license upon conviction for certain offenses like DWI or “crimes of moral turpitude,” which typically involve theft, fraud, and charges involving dishonesty, and you may also lose things like security clearances, scholarships, jobs, or face other dire consequences if you are convicted. There may be immigration consequences associated with your charges, especially if you’re not a U.S. citizen. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to identify these types of hidden consequences, point out defenses, or ask for the right kind of charge reductions to prevent such problems from derailing your life, over and above any jail time, community service, or fine obligation that you must complete. For example, charges for disorderly conduct may be downgraded to a municipal ordinance to avoid a criminal record.

Find an NJ Criminal Defense Lawyer That’s Right for You

If you are charged with any criminal offense in New Jersey, it is highly advisable to seek out an experienced criminal defense attorney who can at the very least, make sure you know what penalties you’re exposed to and what your legal options may be. Finding a criminal lawyer that can best handle your case is a step in the right direction when a criminal charge is looming over your head. For additional information and to speak with a highly knowledgeable lawyer solely dedicated to criminal defense in New Jersey, call (201) 793-8018 or contact us online today. Talk to an NJ criminal defense lawyer in a free consultation and protect your rights.

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.