When You Face Criminal Charges in Hackensack New Jersey
Hackensack, New Jersey is the most populous city in Bergen County. It is home to nearly 45,000 residents, as well as the Bergen County Superior Court, the Bergen County Jail, and it serves as the county seat. Within its 4.346 square miles, Hackensack also houses the renowned Hackensack University Medical Center and Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Teaneck campus. In addition to the thousands of residents that call Hackensack home, countless visitors come to Hackensack to work, shop, eat, and enjoy the many services and activities that it provides. With so many people in such a condensed area, Hackensack is also heavily patrolled by law enforcement officials, who issue criminal charges ranging from possession of marijuana to shoplifting and simple assault on a regular basis. When you are facing criminal charges in Hackensack, the questions are extensive and the answers, unclear. At this stage of your criminal matter, finding an experienced Bergen County criminal defense attorney is essential. As a criminal defense law firm with offices in the heart of Hackensack’s downtown district, just steps from the Hackensack Municipal Court and Bergen County Superior Court, The Tormey Law Firm successfully defends clients charged with criminal offenses in Hackensack every day. In this article, we will discuss some of the common questions that clients have about their criminal cases in Hackensack.
What Does the Degree of My Criminal Charges Mean?
Understanding the degree of your criminal charge is critical, as the degree of a criminal charge determines the legal venue where your case is held, and the potential penalties if you are ultimately found guilty. If you are charged with a petty disorderly persons offense, such as harassment, or a disorderly persons offense, such as disorderly conduct, simple assault, or possession of marijuana under 50 grams, your case will be heard in the Hackensack Municipal Court. These offenses are similar to misdemeanors, but are still considered criminal in nature, so they will result in a charge on your criminal record if you are convicted. On the other hand, if you are charged with a first degree, second degree, third degree, or fourth degree crime, these are considered indictable felonies in New Jersey, which means that your case will be held in the Bergen County Superior Court, which is also located in Hackensack. If you are found guilty of an indictable offense in New Jersey, you will have a felony conviction of your record, which may result in collateral consequences, such as classification as a “Certain Person.” Under New Jersey law, “Certain Persons” are prohibited from possessing weapons for the remainder of their lives.
Potential Penalties for Hackensack NJ Criminal Charges
In New Jersey, penalties for criminal offenses are highly variable and may involve fines, a county jail sentence, a term of incarceration in New Jersey State Prison, registration as a sex offender under New Jersey’s Megan’s Law, community service, suspension of your driver’s license, probation, anger management counseling, substance abuse treatment, or restitution payments. Generally, the sentencing guidelines associated with each classification of criminal offense are as follows:
- A petty disorderly persons offense is punishable by up to 30 days in the county jail and a maximum fine of $500
- A disorderly persons offense is punishable by up to 6 months in the county jail and a maximum fine of $1,000
- A fourth degree crime is punishable by up to 18 months in NJ State Prison and a maximum fine of $10,000
- A third degree crime is punishable by between 3 and 5 years in NJ State Prison and a maximum fine of $15,000
- A second degree crime is punishable by between 5 and 10 years in NJ State Prison and a maximum fine of $150,000
- A first degree crime is punishable by between 10 and 20 years in NJ State Prison and a maximum fine of $200,000
Notably, certain first degree crimes that are considered particularly egregious, such as homicide, kidnapping, and carjacking, entail extended sentencing guidelines and mandatory minimum periods of parole ineligibility.
What if my Criminal Charges Involve Domestic Violence Allegations?
If you are charged with a crime such as simple assault, aggravated assault, terroristic threats, or stalking, and these charges arose in the context of domestic violence, you may face a restraining order in addition to your criminal charges. Restraining orders and criminal charges are two entirely separate matters, which are handled in different legal proceedings. Although they may be associated with the same person and the same incident, a restraining order is a civil matter that is handled during a Final Restraining Order hearing in the Bergen County Superior Court, Family Division. Conversely, the criminal charges are handled in criminal court, either Hackensack Municipal Court or Bergen County Superior Court, depending on the degree of the charges. Both of these matters are extremely serious and can spell long-term consequences for your life. Our lawyers defend clients in criminal matters and restraining order hearings, and we aggressively defend your innocence to avoid the repercussions of a criminal conviction and the issuance of a permanent restraining order.
What if I am a Juvenile Charged with a Criminal Offense in Hackensack?
If you are a juvenile charged with a criminal offense in Hackensack, your case will be heard and decided by a juvenile court judge in the Bergen County Superior Court, Family Division. New Jersey has separate rules and procedures for juvenile matters, which apply to those who are accused of criminal offenses while legally minors (under the age of 18). When you are a juvenile, the legal standard is the best interests of the child, which means that judges have broad discretion to impose sentences that promote rehabilitation and reform. When you are facing juvenile charges in Hackensack, you need an attorney on your side who can protect your rights. Our legal team has extensive experience defending minors in juvenile court and we can help position you for the best possible result.
How do I Avoid a Criminal Conviction in Hackensack?
If you are facing criminal charges in Hackensack, the legal process can seem overwhelming. Fortunately, there are countless ways to have your criminal charges downgraded or dismissed. Our Hackensack criminal defense lawyers work to have criminal charges dismissed entirely by using sophisticated defense strategies that are battle-tested and proven by thousands of successful outcomes. When an outright dismissal in court is not an option, we work to have felony charges downgraded to disorderly persons offenses, and disorderly persons offenses downgraded to municipal ordinance violations, which are similar to ticket and do not result in a criminal conviction on your record. We also regularly facilitate our client’s enrollment in diversionary programs such as Conditional Discharge, Conditional Dismissal, and Pre-Trial Intervention, while will result in a dismissal of your charges after you successfully complete program requirements. We also help our clients to expunge their criminal records of any arrests, charges, or diversionary programs once the charges have been dismissed.
When you are charged with a crime in Hackensack, take heart. You have legal options and do not need to face the complex legal process alone. Simply contact our Hackensack law offices today (201) 556-1570 to discuss your case and find more information. We always provide consultations free of charge.