Newark, NJ- With technology becoming an omnipresent force in modern life, the line between privacy– especially in the digital realm– and our constitutional rights can be somewhat murky. So, the Supreme Court is often called on to clarify our rights to privacy in the context of the constitution. The court’s decision Wednesday, June 25th, was a victory for each individual’s right to privacy in the face of an increasingly technological world, while also reaffirming the constitutional rights of criminal suspects.
Attorney Eric Mark
New Jersey Parole Violation Defense
Newark, NJ- Parole is conditional release from prison awarded to individuals for good behavior and allows them to live in the community under the supervision of a parole officer. The terms of parole are tremendously rigid, and if those terms are not strictly adhered to the parolee may find themselves in violation. That means returning to prison or more stringent parole terms. If you are facing a parole violation, you are aware this matter is serious and you need the representation of a New Jersey criminal defense attorney.
New Jersey Domestic Violence
Newark, NJ- Domestic violence is an issue that affects men, women and children. The justice system takes such charges seriously. In New Jersey, domestic violence laws are strong and strictly enforced.
New Jersey’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act of 1991 (N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17, et. seq.) defines domestic violence as one or more criminal offenses (listed below) committed against a person in a protected class. Protected classes include current and former spouses, roommates, girlfriends and boyfriends and two people who share a child or are expecting.
Domestic violence is not a stand-alone charge; rather, it is one or more of the following charges that occurs between parties with a qualifying relationship:
- terroristic threats
- sexual assault
- criminal restraint
- false imprisonment
- criminal sexual contact
- criminal mischief
- criminal trespass
- harassment, and
Temporary restraining orders (TRO) are routinely issued when a person is charged with domestic violence. A temporary restraining order can bar a person from returning to their home, will restrict their movements, and forbid the charged individual from having contact with the victim and the victim’s family. Under state statutes, a final restraining order can be issued within ten days, after a hearing before a Superior Court judge. Before you appear in court, you can contact me at my Newark office and we can discuss the possibilities and importance of preventing issuance of a final restraining order.
Penalties for conviction of domestic violence charges can entail removal from your home, incarceration, hefty fines and loss of child custody. Domestic violence convictions can affect educational and career opportunities, the right to possess firearms and other weapons, and loss of your voting rights if severe.
In United States v. Castleman, No. 12-1371, decided on March 26, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed that a charge for a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence barred an individual from possessing firearms as previously established. The court’s primary task was to clarify what constituted domestic violence.
The man at the center of the case, James Castleman challenged a federal gun charge indictment. He contended that his conviction for “misdemeanor domestic violence” was not legally sufficient to deny him his right to own a gun because Tennessee laws do not require proof of physical force for such a charge. Gun laws are different in every state, oregon gun laws, for example, differ from Tenesseee, so if the incident had happened in another state the outcome could have been different.
The majority opinion, written by Justice Sonya Sotomayor, concluded that domestic violence may begin with relatively minor assaults such as painful pinching or squeezing that “one might not characterize as ‘violent’ in a nondomestic context.” But because domestic violence often begins with minor acts that can escalate to more violent acts, a broader definition of domestic violence was necessary.
While the high court concluded that misdemeanor domestic violence convictions are enough to bar a person from owning a gun, the Court also made clear such offenses are not crimes of violence that would classify them as domestic violence convictions under immigration law.
A conviction for domestic violence charges can drastically change your life, and should not be taken lightly. The high court’s decision makes it clear that any person facing domestic violence charges even if considered a misdemeanor should have a strong effective defense. Making sound decisions in such an emotionally charged situation can be difficult so you need the objectivity towards your case I can provide.
I have a thorough understanding of New Jersey statutes and understand the implications a domestic violence charge can have on your life. Protecting your rights is important to me and I will approach your case and defense with those rights in mind. Any New Jersey resident who requires a domestic violence defense can contact me at my Newark office.
New Jersey Drug Courts; Who is a Good Candidate?
Newark, NJ- There is consensus among Americans that the War on Drugs has been largely ineffectual at curtailing drug use or reducing drugs crimes. This consensus is culminating in drug law reforms across the country. New Jersey is among the states that have joined the drug law reform fray by expanding drug courts in specific counties, and requiring more people to participate in the program, which is seen as a more effective alternative to incarceration.
New Jersey’s drug courts serve as an alternative to a jail sentence for certain criminal offenders who have an addiction. Many offenders are better served by getting treatment for their addiction at a drug rehab los angeles center than spending time in jail. Appropriate candidates for the program is are determined by a combination of the drug court administrator, prosecutor, substance abuse evaluator and judge. The offender must be found to be drug dependent, but need not be willing to undergo in-patient or out-patient drug rehab.
It is a strict program that requires dedication and regular interaction with the court, prosecutors and substance abuse counselors. Every aspect of the participant’s life is monitored; from their job to their personal lives. This rigorous program requires weekly visits with a probation officer. Until recent changes in the statute, participation in drug courts was not mandatory; a person had to give their consent, before they were allowed into the program.
Last year, however the statute was changed, and participation in drug court became mandatory in some counties. An offender in these counties no longer has a choice; they must participate in drug court when ordered to do so. The new statute also expanded drug court to include offenders convicted of robbery and burglary if the crime was related to the offender’s addiction.
Pilot drug courts began in Hudson and Ocean Counties and the Somerset/Hunterdon/Warren vicinage. Pilot courts initiate the changes to the original statute, which were signed into law last year, and will expand to other counties each year. Drug courts in Passaic County will soon be expanded to include mandatory sentencing, and, eventually, all drug courts in the state will follow suit.
If you live in districts where drug courts are voluntary, and are unclear whether you should request to participate in the program, you can contact my Newark office. We can discuss program requirements or whether you would fare better defending yourself against the charges you are facing.
Drug Courts may be a good alternative for some individuals, but it is not for everyone. The program is suited for true addicts who need a program to help them conquer their addiction, and need the structure the program offers. Offenders typically spend three years in the program, but some can spend up to five years in the program.
But not all drug users are hardened addicts; many are casual or infrequent drug users who had the misfortune of getting into trouble. For these and other offenders, drug courts are not effective because the offenders aren’t ready for the program; they would rather serve whatever sentence they are given and move on with their lives.
Participation in drug court isn’t necessarily a way to avoid jail, either. If the offender violates the strict terms of the program by testing positive for drugs, failing to make mandatory court appearances or completing their addiction treatment, they can still be sent to jail. Of course, most authorities will require these people to take a drug test to make sure they have evidence that the individual does have illegal substances in their system. To test for these drugs, it might be worth getting hold of some test kits here to ensure authorities get accurate test results. From there, they should be able to determine the best option for that person. In-patient treatment space is limited so some individuals ordered to participate in drug court must spend time in jail while they wait for placement in an in-patient rehabilitation facility – click here.
When you have been charged with a drug crime or a crime motivated by substance abuse, you have important decisions to make. I can help you make an informed decision about your charges and what course of action you need to take. Your rights are important to me, and I will use my legal experience to assure your rights and choices are respected in court.
The Public Interest Requirement for Early Expungment
Newark, NJ- A juvenile or adult criminal record complicates a person’s life in ways they may not realize. Your education, career and civil rights can all be hindered by your criminal record. In a previous article, I discussed how you can expunge your New Jersey criminal record, and give yourself a second chance to have a successful career, vote and be a contributing member of the community.
Determining if you are eligible to have your criminal record expunged is just the first stage of the process. You must send extensive documentation along with your petition for expungement to every court and law enforcement agency in each jurisdiction where you were arrested. After I prepare your petition, and send all the required documentation you simply have to wait for your petition to be approved.
However not all petitions are approved immediately, and in some circumstances it is necessary for the petitioner to request a trial court appearance. When a court appearance is necessary, my knowledge of case law will give you an advantage, and allow me to convince the courts you deserve a second chance.
New Jersey statutes (N.J.S.A. 2C:52-2 et. seq.) require you to meet certain obligations to have criminal records expunged after 10 years. (I‘ve outlined those requirements in my previous article.) The legislature, in 2010, amended the statutes and expanded the opportunities for expungement. Under the amended statute, individuals who can prove clearing their criminal record is in the “public’s interest” can petition to have their record expunged five years after completing their sentence.
The statutes that pertain to expunging a criminal record can be unclear and New Jersey appellate high are regularly called on to clarify what the legislature intended when they crafted the expungement statutes.
A 2012 New Jersey Supreme Court decision, In the Matter of KOLLMAN, Petition for Expungement, demonstrates how difficult it can be satisfy the “public interest” requirement of the statute.
Kollman, who was 23 at the time of the offense, was arrested for selling a controlled dangerous substance to three police officers in 2000. The following year, he was convicted of three counts of selling controlled dangerous substances after negotiating a plea bargain in which some of his charges were dropped.
Kollman served his sentence and paid is fines. He then dedicated his time to serving his community, volunteering for a number of organizations, got his Bachelors in Science degree, and worked for the same employer for 16 years.
When Kollman petitioned to the have his record expunged, his application was denied because the court found he was afforded some benefits prior to his conviction, and said he did not provide sufficient documentation his expungement would be in the public’s interest.
Kollman produced over 20 letters from attorneys, friends, family, his employer and various organizations he volunteered for that spoke to his character. He showed he avowed his life of criminal activity, lived with integrity and served his community. Even though his petition was denied, he continued to pursue his petition all the way to the New Jersey Supreme Court.
Kollman didn’t give up and continued to fight; he and his attorney weren’t going to rest until his record was cleared. You can expect the same tenacity when you retain me as your attorney. I won’t give up on your case, whether you are fighting criminal charges or trying to expunge your record. Every client is important to me, and the individual attention I will give to your case gives you the greatest chance at success.