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Criminal Law

What You Need to Know About Indictable (Felony) Offenses in New Jersey

Indictable offenses in New Jersey, also known as felonies in other states, are crimes that require a prison sentence of at least one year after conviction. These crimes, such as murder, arson, sex crimes, and robbery, among others, are the most severe crimes one might commit, and they all have different levels of severity with corresponding punishments. In this article, we at the Law Office of Zapicchi & Liller LLP will give you a brief overview of indictables in NJ, including the degrees of indictable offenses, the criminal statute of limitations, and the different sentences for each. 

Degrees & Sentences of Indictment 

New Jersey indictables are classified by four degrees. Their severity is listed in descending order below:

  • First-Degree: These are the most serious offenses a citizen may commit in the state. They include murder, rape, and manslaughter.
  • Judges can impose a standard sentence of 10 to 20 years, or between 20, 25, 30 years, and life. The court may fine the convicted person a maximum of $200,000.
  • Second-Degree: These include aggravated arson, burglary, sex crimes, drug crimes, kidnapping, and white-collar crimes. 
  • Convictions in this category can necessitate a sentence of 5 to 10 years and a fine up to $150,000.
  • Third-Degree: This category consists of some DUI offenses, some robbery crimes, arson, and possession of a controlled substance.
  • A court can order a 3- to a 5-year prison sentence and fines up to $15,000 for those convicted at this level.
  • Fourth-Degree: These are the least severe indictable offenses. Crimes include forgery, some DUI and robbery offenses, and stalking. 
  • A defendant convicted at this level faces from 12 to 18 months in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

These degrees and their corresponding crimes refer to first offenses only. Any subsequent convictions for the same offense will usually be considered a more severe degree for individual perpetrators. New Jersey law dictates that there should be an “ordinary term” for each degree, as listed above. However, judges can extend sentences for certain crimes (e.g., 20 years to life for a murder charge), impose minimum penalties, or allow for indicted individuals to serve all or a part of their sentences on probation. 

Even though indictable crimes are the most serious crimes, there is still a statute of limitations for many of them, meaning that the state has a certain period to open a criminal case before it cannot be brought to court. Although for some of the more serious crimes, this is not a concern.

Below is a summary of the statutes of limitations for indictable offenses:

  • There is no statute of limitations for severe crimes like murder and manslaughter, sexual assault, acts of terrorism, widespread damage, or injury.
  • Bribery of a government official, official misconduct, related offenses (7 years)
  • Other felony offenses (5 years)
  • Criminal sexual contact or endangering the welfare of a child with an under-18 victim (whichever is later: within 5 years after the victim turns 18 or 2 years of crime discovery by the victim)

An indictable crime can seriously affect your life, as a conviction becomes part of your permanent record and can make it challenging to get a job or an apartment and eliminates your voting, gun, and professional license rights. Additionally, If you were convicted of a prior felony, a harsher sentence may be imposed. An experienced criminal defense lawyer should always be consulted to help reduce sentences and make plea deals. If you need a defense attorney, contact the Law Office of Zapicchi & Liller LLP before it is too late! 

In addition to indictable offense representation, if you require a speeding ticket lawyer in Monmouth County, NJ, or a DWI/DUI lawyer in Mercer County, NJ, call the Law Office of Zapicchi & Liller LLP today!

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Reckless Driving vs. Careless Driving

Clients often misuse the terms “reckless driving” and “careless driving” because they understand these violations to mean the same thing. In reality, reckless driving is a much harsher offense than careless driving because it shows intent to endanger others. If you’ve received a careless driving, reckless driving, or even a speeding ticket, call our lawyers who serve Monmouth County, NJ, to help lighten your burden. 

Careless Driving

If you’ve ever gotten distracted while driving, you’ve participated in careless driving. According to the New Jersey Statue of Motor Vehicles and Traffic Regulation, careless driving can be defined as any person who is driving without due caution, thereby posing a risk to themselves, other people, and property. These drivers show no intent to endanger others, but could possibly do so as a result of their carelessness. 

Anything that can distract you, the driver, from being careful on the road, is considered careless driving. Here is a small list of actions that could earn you a careless driving violation: 

  • Texting while driving
  • Illegal lane changes
  • Being distracted (by the radio, your phone, others, etc.)
  • Speeding
  • Traffic collision
  • Reckless driving
  • Etc.

The consequences of being a careless driver are a small fine and points on your license. A first-time offense can see a penalty up to $140 and 2 points added to their license. These points don’t expire, so enough repeated offenses can result in license suspension. 

Reckless Driving

Reckless driving is a more serious offense than careless driving. Reckless drivers show intent to endanger other people and property, or a “wanton disregard” for the safety of those around them. As such, the consequences of receiving a reckless driving violation are much harsher. Depending on the gravity of the circumstances, reckless driving can be cited as either a traffic violation or a criminal offense. 

The following examples are considered reckless driving and could earn you a violation:

  • Exceeding the speed limit by a high amount (25+)
  • Eluding a police officer on the road
  • Weaving between traffic
  • Racing with another vehicle 

A reckless driving offense will see drivers receive a hefty fine, points on their license, possible jail time, a possible misdemeanor on their criminal record, or a possible license suspension. A first offense will start with a fine of $50 – $200, as well as 3 points added to your license. 

Seek Legal Help

If you’ve been convicted of any traffic violation, call the Law Office of Zapicchi & Liller LLP. With a decade of experience in municipal and criminal law, you won’t find a better family, criminal, or DUI lawyer in the Mercer County, NJ, area. 

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What You Should Know About Burglary

Here at the Law Office of Zapicchi & Liller LLP, we practice many areas of law, from real estate to DUI/DWI charges. We also handle criminal law, protecting the rights of people in Monmouth County, NJ, and the surrounding area. Our criminal law expertise covers more than a dozen areas, ranging from identity theft to furnishing alcohol to a minor. Today we’re going to talk about yet another area of criminal law we cover: burglary. 

What is burglary?

You probably have a vague idea of how to answer that question, but there is a precise answer you may not know. Although laws vary somewhat from state to state, there are several nationwide facets that constitute burglary:

A Structure

Without a structure to burglarize, you can’t have a burglary. But what’s a structure? 

The legal definition of “structure” has expanded in recent years to include temporary and mobile dwellings like tents and trailer homes, as well as campsites.  

An Illegal Entry

This refers to being inside the structure without permission or legal right, regardless of whether that structure was a private or public building. This can also apply in cases where entrance was legal but intent was criminal, such as entering a store in order to shoplift. And physical entry can take many forms: standing outside the building and reaching inside with a tool, for example. 

Force

When you think of forcible entry, you might picture someone breaking a window or prying an opening with a crowbar. In reality, actions as simple as turning a doorknob are legally considered forcible. This rule is also met in cases of shoplifting, when entering is legal but the intent is not.

Intent

Pop quiz: If you enter a building intending to steal, but then change your mind, have you committed a crime? The correct answer is YES. A person’s frame of mind is the fourth and final criterion of burglary. 

Consequences

In NJ, burglary can lead to a prison term of 3 to 5 years. Fines of up to $15,000 are also possible. 

With stakes that high, it’s vital to choose an experienced and reputable law firm. If you or someone you know is facing charges of burglary in or near Hamilton Township NJ, you need criminal lawyers who will fight tirelessly on your behalf.  

Let Zapicchi & Liller defend your rights. Contact them today.  

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Speeding Violations

You’re driving down the highway, moving along with traffic, going about your day as usual and suddenly you drive past a police officer sitting in the median. You check your speed — 10 over. You can feel it. You’re going to get a ticket. Sure enough, the officer pulls out, puts on his lights, and pulls you over. You’ve just gotten yourself a ticket. 

Don’t feel bad though, we’ve all been there, and we will all probably be there again, but sometimes, it feels like the ticket that you were written, the fine you got, or the points that you got on your license were unjust for the situation you were in. Maybe you had to go to the hospital, or you were just in a rush to get to work. Whatever the reason, you want to fight it, and lucky for you, we are your traffic lawyer, whether you’re in Burlington County, NJ, or the surrounding area.

We help people fight traffic and speeding violations all the time, and we will fight vehemently to get your charges reduced and points off your license. How do we do this? In this blog, we will cover how anyone can go through the legal process of fighting a speeding ticket in the state of New Jersey.

Plead Not Guilty

First things first, you need to plead not guilty. Pleading not guilty is your way of saying to the state that you believe you were charged unfairly, inaccurately, or unlawfully. Many municipalities have their own rules or time periods set up as to when you can or cannot file an appeal to a ticket, so make sure to read the fine print on your ticket before you attempt to plead not guilty

The Next Steps

After pleading not guilty, there will be two more steps before you know whether or not your plea has helped your case at all. These steps are:

  • Meeting with the Prosecutor

When you meet with the prosecutor, you will (generally) be able to make a deal that will amend the charge to have a reduced fine, reduction of points, or, sometimes, both. 

  • Appearing Before the Judge

To finalize the deal that was made between you and the prosecutor, you will have to appear before a judge for him to finalize and approve the plea deals that were settled upon by both parties. 

Hire a Traffic Lawyer

Getting to a point where a judge will accept your plea deal can be difficult. Setting a deal with a prosecutor is the most critical step, and this is where a traffic lawyer in Mercer County, NJ can help. 

At The Law Office of Zapicchi & Liller LLP, we help individuals fight speeding tickets and traffic violations regularly, assisting them in getting lower fines and reduced points. Ready to team up with the toughest traffic lawyers in New Jersey? Call us today at 609-318-3990.