Category Archives: Criminal Defense

Is Lying to the Police a Crime in New Jersey?

If law enforcement officers in New Jersey detain, arrest, or investigate you, lying can land you in jail. In this case, the term “lying” covers a lot of ground, including falsely reporting a crime to the police and giving false statements. Many New Jersey laws govern the answer to the question, “Is lying to the police a crime?” so learn about these different statutes before needing a criminal defense law attorney to present you. 

1. Filing a False Report

Related Statute: N.J.S.A. 2C:28-4

Filing a false report sounds cut and dry, but it also covers situations like falsely accusing someone of a crime. Some people try to get around this by insinuating someone committed a crime without making a direct accusation, but this also falls under false reporting.

Making up a crime to report or providing a police officer with an inaccurate description of a crime both count as filing a false report, making it a crime to invent a crime. In other words, if a crime didn’t happen, or if you file it as happening in a particular way that you know isn’t true, you’ll violate this statute.

2. Obstructing the Legal Process

Related Statute: N.J.S.A. 2C:29-3

Stopping the police from arresting someone by hiding them in your home or misleading officers on the person’s location can result in your arrest for hindering apprehension of that person. You can also end up spending a few months in jail if you aid a person in fleeing from the law, whether by providing them with money or weapons. Anything you do to help a person evade the law, including warning them of a potential arrest, can lead to your own wrists in handcuffs.

Wondering, “Is lying to the police a crime in New Jersey?” may come up while you destroy or tamper with evidence related to a specific case. Even if you didn’t help a person evade the police, if officers discover your tampering, they’ll arrest you for it. Stay out of trouble by refusing to help someone flee the law or get rid of any evidence.

3. Tampering with Documents or Public Information

Related Statute: N.J.S.A. 2C:28-7

Many people think of tampering with documents as editing them to say something other than the original intent. However, public documents include everything from court orders to fake I.D.s. That means that if you use a fake I.D. to purchase alcohol, you may receive the same treatment and sentencing as a person who created a false birth certificate to back up their fake identity.

Even if you just make fake I.D.s and sell them but don’t use them yourself, the distribution of false documents intended to mislead law enforcement officers falls under the purview of this statute.

4. Lying While Under Oath

Related Statute: N.J.S.A. 2C:28-1

Lying while on the witness stand can severely impact the outcome of a case. If officials discover false testimony or if the witness confirms the truth of a false statement made before the court date, the perpetrator can end up in jail. However, the law has provisions in place for those who don’t know they have false information or who provide false information that has no bearing on the case.

For instance, if you accidentally state that you were drinking milk instead of orange juice when you saw a crime occur, the drink has nothing to do with the case and, therefore, can’t trigger a perjury accusation. Likewise, if you tell your version of events and include a lie that you were told by another party, as long as you didn’t know that the other party had lied to you, the court won’t hold you responsible for perjury.

In other words, perjury requires proof that you knew you were lying on the stand and intentionally did so.

How Severe Are the Consequences for Lying to the Police in New Jersey?

All versions of lying to the police can result in months of jail time. Less severe crimes may result in a disorderly person’s offense, but circumstances may indicate the need to rate the crime as fourth, third, second, or first-degree. Arrests for committing the same types of fraudulent crimes may result in the advancement from disorderly persons to a degree of crime.

Protect Yourself with an Experienced Lawyer in New Jersey

If you wonder, “Is lying to the police a crime in New Jersey?” you may need fraud lawyers or a criminal defense attorney. Learn more about New Jersey criminal defense by contacting our team at Aiello, Harris, Abate, Law Group PC for a free attorney consultation.

Dealing with False Domestic Abuse Claims in New Jersey

Unfortunately, domestic abuse between partners happens for numerous reasons, from a difference of opinion with child raising to financial or fidelity issues. Arguably, some of the most vulgar situations include ones where nothing happened at all. Many spouses make false domestic abuse claims to get back at their significant other and seek pity from the court when filing for a divorce. 

If you’re a victim of these domestic violence allegations, you need dedicated criminal defense lawyers like the ones at Aiello, Harris, Abate, Law Group PC by your side. With over 60 years of experience fighting inaccurate criminal charges in all of New Jersey, we have the resources and know-how to attempt to clear your sullied name. 

What Makes Someone a Victim of Domestic Violence?

The New Jersey statute identifies a victim of domestic violence as a live-in partner, whether by marriage or dating, who has received physical or mental health issues from an individual who currently or used to live on the grounds. The perpetrator should be at least 18 years old or a legally independent emancipated minor who has done any of the following:

  • Sexual, physical, or verbal abuse 
  • Harassment, including threatening remarks or stalking after a relationship’s end
  • Stealing from your home, which may comprise taking jewelry, money, and other items alongside kidnapping or petnapping
  • The homicide of another in the household

Receiving a Restraining Order Under False Pretenses

If someone makes these claims against you, you may only find out through a temporary restraining order, which outlines the allegations. Once served the TRO papers, you cannot enter the residential establishment or come within a few feet of the plaintiff for the next ten days until the final hearing, according to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. 

If the police note bodily injury on the plaintiff before then, they’ll file a criminal complaint and arrest you, the defendant. They’ll also take away your rights to your children, usually only redistributing it if you win the case. The Act also claims you must continue to pay household bills, including rent, mortgage, and utilities, to aid the alleged victim after moving out. 

As an innocent defendant, you may appeal the case by bringing in a judge to overlook your hearing. Since domestic violence is tough to prove with a lack of evidence, there’s a good chance of having the judge dissolve the TRO for the false domestic abuse claims. 

Defending Yourself in Court

When it comes time for your hearing at one of the family courts in New Jersey, come prepared with evidence. If the plaintiff is lying, they won’t have any substantial evidence, so yours may win you the case. Let text messages, online social media posts, letters, emails, and other written words accompany your side of the story, and include visuals like videos and pictures if possible. 

If the judge found it reasonable for you to support the plaintiff in your time away from the residence, bring in copies of your financial records, like pay stubs, utility bills, and other forms that depict how much you make and your cost of living. If the plaintiff lied about domestic abuse to gain more property in a divorce or receive additional funds, they probably also lied about your income for financial support. 

While this method reduces how much you pay to support the so-called victim, the best way to rid yourself of it altogether is by proposing civil restraints in place of the restraining order during the legal proceedings. This agreement is popular since the plaintiff doesn’t have to try their case and fear losing, especially in false domestic abuse claims. 

Instead, they immediately receive documentation stating the defendant cannot contact them while the defendant no longer has to follow the previous terms. Also, because the terms of the agreement are subject to change by the involved parties, you can modify, amend, or annul it as you both deem fit.

Trust Us for Client Commitment

If you lose your case, you’ll enter a final restraining order and receive placement in the domestic violence registry. Rather than have this affect your divorce, child custody battle, and life, trust us as your domestic violence defense lawyer who can adequately prepare you for legal proceedings.  

Aiello, Harris, Abate, Law Group PC in New Jersey has been around for over 60 years and has over 250 years of combined experience from 16 seasoned attorneys. When you need a professional, friendly face to aid with false domestic abuse claims, reach out to our team. Our domestic violence lawyers offer a free consultation when you call (908) 561-5577 today!

What Criminal Charges Disqualify You From Owning a Gun in New Jersey?

New Jersey legislation makes it more challenging for those with felony convictions to lawfully purchase firearms. Some of these felonies include violent crimes and drug possession. Many people who complete their court-ordered sentences ask our attorneys, “What criminal charges disqualify me from owning a gun?”

Keep reading as one of our trusted criminal defense lawyers from Aiello, Harris, Abate, Law Group PC, in Watchung, NJ, answers this question and more. Consider the following information before attempting to purchase a firearm.

Federal Law and State Law

The Brady Act of 1994 established a national baseline for a citizen’s eligibility to own and operate firearms. Since then, several pieces of federal legislation have expanded on these standards to block the sale, transportation, and gun permits of many individuals who have criminal histories. Still, over 98.5% of people pass firearm background inquiries.

To close some of the gaps left by federal law, New Jersey’s N.J.S. § 2C:39-7 clearly defines who cannot legally purchase firearms in the state. Other statutes, such as N.J.S. § 2C:58-3, also prohibit the issuance of firearm permits and IDs to those with misdemeanor convictions (disorderly persons offenses).

Who Cannot Own a Firearm in NJ?

What criminal charges disqualify you from owning a gun? According to New Jersey law, you cannot possess, sell, or transport a firearm if you are guilty of any of the following offenses:

  • Assault
  • Burglary
  • Extortion
  • Homicide
  • Kidnapping
  • Robbery
  • Sexual assault
  • Gang crimes
  • Terrorism
  • Unlawful firearm possession
  • Misdemeanor domestic violence
  • And other violent crimes

New Jersey also prohibits those convicted of unlawful use, possession, or trafficking of controlled substances. However, this rule does not apply to drug convictions categorized as a disorderly persons offense.

Anyone attempting to purchase a firearm in New Jersey must own a valid Firearms Purchaser Identification Card from authorized authorities (typically a local police department). 

Exceptions to the Rules

It is rare for someone convicted of any of the crimes above to preserve their gun ownership rights. Still, you might be able to restore their rights if a court expunges your criminal record. Although expungement does not guarantee gun rights for all, it may be a practical path forward for some.

Adults with minor convictions may be eligible for expungement after five years. Generally, they must complete their sentences, satisfy certain court conditions, and have no more than four misdemeanor crimes on record. Hiring an attorney is a practical way to navigate this process.

Consequences for Unlawful Possession of a Firearm

Those found guilty of illegally owning firearms or ammunition can face severe penalties. In some cases, the court may confiscate illicit materials and implement hefty fines. However, many people face second-degree and third-degree felonies, which carry prison sentences.

A person arrested for owning firearms illegally more than once could qualify for a first-degree offense.

How Can a Lawyer Help?

Hiring a lawyer can help you navigate the firearm ownership process and explain what crimes disqualify you from owning a gun. We can also represent you if you face charges related to the unlawful purchase or sale of guns.

Knowing your rights is essential. A reliable attorney will help you determine which legal strategies are available according to the circumstances of your case.

We can also speak on your behalf to law enforcement, courts, or other relevant parties should you have inquiries about your status.

Remember, a lawyer is your first line of defense when you need legal assistance. Avoid representing yourself in a court of law. Our knowledgeable attorneys have the experience and resources necessary to develop a personalized legal plan for you.

Partner With a Lawyer Today

You may feel helpless if the police arrest you or a loved one for unlawful firearm ownership. However, our legal counselors are just a phone call away. Hire one of our attorneys from Aiello, Harris, Abate, Law Group PC, so you can speak with someone you can trust.

We take pride in serving our New Jersey community with professionalism and dignity.

Our client-first approach ensures that you have answers to all your questions when facing minor or severe criminal offenses. We take the time to understand every detail of the case so that we can recommend practical solutions. As an ethical firm, we also provide a safe and confidential environment where you can discuss your concerns.

What criminal charges can disqualify you from owning a gun? Learn more from our lawyers at Aiello, Harris, Abate, Law Group PC, in Watchung, NJ. Look no further for a reputable law firm in New Jersey. Call us at (908) 561-5577 for a free attorney consultation.

Receiving Stolen Property: What Are the Consequences?

If the court charges you or someone you know with receiving stolen property, you may wonder what happens next. New Jersey laws lay out several consequences you might face after an accusation. Still, it is possible to avoid many of these outcomes if you have an experienced attorney by your side.

Below, one of our criminal defense lawyers from Aiello, Harris, Abate, Law Group PC, in Watchung, New Jersey, discusses the consequences of receiving stolen property.

Is It Illegal To Possess Stolen Property?

Yes, it is illegal to possess stolen property under specific circumstances. 

New Jersey law (N.J.S.A. 2C:20-7) dictates that a person is guilty of theft if they knowingly possess or transport stolen property within state jurisdiction. 

Knowingly is the key word here.

If you know you are in unlawful possession of personal property, the court could consider you complicit in the theft. Additionally, you can face charges if you believe another person stole an item before gifting or selling it to you. Depending on the severity of the crime, you could face felony charges with long-lasting consequences.

Second-Degree Consequences

You could receive a second-degree theft conviction if a judge or jury should find you guilty of possessing property worth $75,000 or more. If you stole an item via extortion, or the property is a listed controlled substance (see list), you could also qualify for a second-degree conviction. 

Those guilty of second-degree theft face five to ten years of incarceration.

Third-Degree Consequences

The consequences of a third-degree theft offense are less severe than for second-degree. Anyone accused of this crime must unlawfully possess more than $500 – but less than $75,000 – worth of property from the rightful owner. The property in question must include any or all of the following:

  • A firearm
  • Motor vehicles (including cars, boats, or airplanes)
  • A domesticated animal
  • A controlled substance that weighs less than a kilogram

In this case, the maximum incarceration for receiving stolen property is five years.

Fourth Degree Consequences

A fourth-degree theft is punishable by up to 18 months in state prison. A court must find you guilty of possessing $200-$500 in stolen property.

Disorderly Persons

A disorderly persons offense is a misdemeanor. To be found guilty, you generally must possess small-value items (usually stolen through shoplifting). In this case, you may be subject to a fine of up to $1,000.

While you could face up to six months in jail, people receive lighter punishments such as probation. Still, these charges and subsequent offenses can remain visible on a background check for the remainder of your life, if convicted.

What To Do After an Accusation

If the police arrest you for possessing stolen property, request a lawyer immediately. 

It’s wise to exercise your right to remain silent before speaking to an attorney. This practice ensures that you do not self-incriminate during a police investigation. 

How Can an Attorney Help?

An attorney is your first line of defense against theft charges. They will gather witnesses, evidence, and other essential resources to help clear you of guilt or minimize potential consequences. 

Attorneys strongly discourage self-representation in court. Often, people on trial do not have the legal knowledge or experience to navigate their own defense without further incriminating themselves. A reputable attorney will ensure that you understand your rights and the consequences of your case.

A lawyer can also help you expunge a disorderly persons conviction if a court finds you guilty. This process can be tedious. Still, many people restore their records after paying fines to the court and completing their entire probation. 

No matter the challenge, a lawyer serves as a valuable asset and will stick with you until the end.

Speak To a Lawyer in New Jersey Today

Facing a felony offense can be intimidating. Fortunately, you don’t need to navigate the legal process alone. At Aiello, Harris, Abate, Law Group PC, we’ve represented hundreds of clients who have been accused of both minor and severe criminal charges.

Our office provides a safe environment in which to discuss your case and receive legal counseling. No matter which charges you face, we will treat you respectfully, and we do not pass judgment on our clients. 

Choosing a criminal defense lawyer doesn’t need to be overwhelming. The attorneys at our firm bring years of experience to your case, so you can be confident that you will have the finest and most knowledgeable representation.

Have you or someone you know been accused of receiving stolen property? You can count on our team at Aiello, Harris, Abate, Law Group PC, in Watchung, NJ. Call us for a free attorney consultation at (908) 561-5577.

What Are Your Rights When Arrested In New Jersey?

When you understand your legal rights, you ensure that your interactions with police officers and the court system go as smoothly as possible. As an American citizen governed by the US Constitution, you have your own set of responsibilities and rights when arrested. 

Detainments and arrests can make anyone anxious. Once you better understand the process, you know the steps that lie ahead and can conduct yourself accordingly. 

If you need a criminal defense lawyer in New Jersey, call us for a free consultation at (908) 561-5577. At Aiello, Harris, Abate, we have the experience you need to navigate your charges. Continue reading to learn more about your rights when arrested in New Jersey. 

Your Rights Before Your Arrest

Often, the police will question you briefly before placing you under arrest. 

If a police officer approaches you for any reason, stay calm. Keep your hands visible during the interaction. This shows that you will not reach for a weapon or attempt to cause harm. When you conduct yourself this way, you help ensure that the interaction doesn’t escalate.  

A police officer may question you or ask for identification. You may decline to answer all questions. However, you should identify yourself to the officer. You have the right to ask whether or not you are being detained or arrested. If the officer says no, you can leave.  

Before a law enforcement officer can arrest you, they must state that you are under arrest. In this situation, they typically have an arrest warrant or reasonable suspicion that allows them to do so.

Your Rights During Your Arrest

Once an officer officially states your arrest, your responsibility, rights, and the way you conduct yourself shift. 

Do not physically thwart, run from, or otherwise resist arrest. If you do so, you may incur new charges in addition to the current ones. Some charges related to resisting arrest include obstruction of administration of law and even assault if an officer sustains any injuries. 

New Jersey law states that even simple assault charges be raised to aggravated assault when it comes to police officers. Instead, continue to remain calm, stay silent, and cooperate with the officer’s requests.  

Your Rights After Your Arrest

After a police officer arrests you, the law requires that they read your Miranda Rights. Your Miranda Rights provide you the opportunity to avoid self-incrimination. They state that:

  • You have the right to remain silent. Once in police custody, an officer will ask questions to gather evidence. State that you wish to exercise your right to remain silent, and the officer must refrain from questioning you further.
  • You have the right to legal counsel. After stating you will stay silent, ask for a lawyer. Avoid signing any documents or speaking further. During the interrogation process, you need sound legal advice and guidance. 

Even if you can’t afford a lawyer, you have the right to access legal counsel for free or within your financial means. In this case, the legal system appoints a public defender to represent you. 

Your Rights During Your Time at the Police Station

Your arresting officers will transport you to a detainment facility such as a county jail. During your time there, continue exercising your right to remain silent. Officers will attempt to interrogate or question you further. Unless you have a criminal defense attorney present, do not answer their questions.

After 24 hours, the police officers will typically release you or deliver a court notice and a charge. During your detainment, you can have one phone call. You may use this call to either contact an attorney or sort out your bail if applicable. 

Other Rights You Should Know

Police officers can try to further interrogate you after they complete your arrest and transport you. In this event, they must remind you of your Miranda Rights again. At all times, you have the right to remain silent.

If officers don’t recite your Miranda Rights in applicable situations, they cannot use any of the statements you made against you later. You can also use the information about rights when arrested when you need advice on how to help an arrested loved one.

Use Your Right to an Attorney

The first step to managing any criminal charges brought against you includes knowing your rights when arrested. You should then contact a criminal defense attorney in New Jersey to learn more about your options and rights. Call Aiello, Harris, Abate at (908) 561-5577 for a free attorney consultation. 

Why Does Wrongful Incarceration Happen and What Should You Do?

Wrongful incarceration goes by many names: unlawful imprisonment and false imprisonment among them. While it often refers to one unauthorized citizen restricting another citizen under false pretenses, it also occurs within the criminal justice system. If a court or jury convicts you of a crime you did not commit and you go to jail, that is wrongful incarceration. 

Whether the wrongful conviction applies to you or a loved one, you need an attorney to manage the case. Wrongful incarceration carries extreme consequences and requires immediate action to fight it. Contact Aiello, Harris, Abate at (908) 561-5577 for a free consultation with criminal defense lawyer in New Jersey. Continue reading to learn about what to do in the event of wrongful incarceration.

What Is Wrongful Incarceration?

Wrongful incarceration occurs when a court convicts you of a crime you didn’t commit. While our legal system is based on the principle “innocent until proven guilty,” the criminal justice system is not perfect, and it is possible for evidence or testimony to lead a judge or jury to return a “guilty” verdict, even if you were not involved in the crime.

Once you receive the verdict, you will then serve the sentence, which may include jail time. Wrongful incarceration specifically applies to cases where you receive a conviction for a crime you had nothing to do with. Consequently, you serve that sentence in place of the actual perpetrator. 

Wrongful incarceration carries heavy consequences for victims. You spend time in prison, which impacts mental health, and you have a mark on your record until you are otherwise proven innocent. 

After a guilty verdict, finding a way to prove your innocence takes time to file appeals and comb through legal documents. The New Jersey Appellate Division of the Superior Court hears many challenges to prior convictions, which can take years to sort through. You will need an experienced criminal defense attorney to guide you through the process. 

How Does Wrongful Incarceration Happen?

Wrongful incarceration occurs for several reasons, most of them having to do with an overrun criminal justice system. Some factors that cause wrongful incarceration include:

Unreliable Witness Testimony

Unreliable testimonies from witnesses occur frequently. If the witness watched the events occur from a distance, they might miss out on certain details. Their memories can also misconstrue what they saw. If a witness with an otherwise accurate testimony wrongly identifies you as the perpetrator, they can convince a judge or jury of your guilt. 

Official Misconduct

Official misconduct refers to a circumstance where a public servant didn’t perform his or her duties according to lawful protocol. Anyone from city police officers to federal government officials can commit official misconduct. Sometimes, an investigator wants an easy open-and-shut case. To achieve this, they may use you as their primary suspect. 

False Confessions

False confessions occur when you incriminate yourself of charges for which you’re not responsible. Sometimes, this happens because investigators assume your guilt and conduct interrogations based on that assumption. Police may also use coercion or intimidation to force your false confession. 

Inaccurate Forensic Investigations

Inaccuracies in forensic evidence also cause wrongful accusations and subsequent incarceration. Contaminated DNA tests, lack of substantial forensic testing, and mistakes from evidence handlers all factor into flawed forensic evidence. It can take years to appeal any evidence used in a court of law once it’s admitted and used for a verdict. 

What to Do If You’re Wrongfully Incarcerated

If police arrest you or someone you know based on wrongful accusations, exercise your rights throughout the entire arrest and interrogation process:

  • Remain calm, silent, and cooperative within reason.
  • Do not answer any questions to avoid accidental self-incrimination or a false confession.
  • Only speak to police officers with your designated attorney present.
  • Immediately exercise your right to an attorney by seeking legal services that suit your case. 

Murder lawyers often have relevant knowledge and experience in cases of wrongful incarceration. Choosing a criminal defense lawyer can also help you navigate any evidence against you, such as false testimony or botched forensics. 

Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney for Your Case

Wrongful convictions and wrongful incarceration carry heavy consequences, including up to a decade of unwarranted jail time. Once you’re in the legal system, finding your way out can feel impossible. With a criminal defense attorney on your side, you can navigate the legal system, seek to prove your innocence, and possibly pursue an award of compensation for the wrongful conviction and incarceration. 

Call (908) 561-5577 to schedule a free attorney consultation with our Aiello, Harris, Abate legal team.

What Does It Mean to Be a No-Fault State Like New Jersey?

Less than half the country has no-fault car accident laws. Many people ask, “What does it mean to be a no-fault state?”

New Jersey provides no-fault protections to their citizens, which can limit a claimant’s ability to sue. Basic insurance policies may only allow for limited no-fault coverage, while standard ones can expand your right to sue.

Regardless, you should speak with an attorney if you experience a motor accident injury in New Jersey. Our personal injury law firm, Aiello, Harris, Abate, can help you understand your insurance and practice your legal rights.

Why Is New Jersey a No-Fault State?

New Jersey’s no-fault laws aim to lower car insurance costs by reducing or eliminating small claims motor cases. No-fault car insurance should provide quick resolutions to claims, including timely payments, service suggestions, and no stressful court dates. This process should also reduce the strain on the court system.

However, no-fault insurance laws occasionally limit how drivers and passengers injured in car accidents can receive compensation. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage sometimes only covers part of the damages from a car accident. You may also face restrictions to seeking compensation in court.

Experienced New Jersey lawyers know that exceptions exist in the legal system to allow for third-party claims. Call an Aiello, Harris, Abate attorney to learn more about “what does it mean to be a no-fault state?” and whether or not you qualify for an exception.

What Does Personal Injury Protection Insurance Offer?

PIP provides no-fault benefits for motor and other accidents. Basic and standard policies often include PIP, and all drivers must have at least one of these policies. New Jersey law requires minimum coverage of $15,000 per person, per accident.

Most basic PIP plans include medical coverage, care coverage, and some economic losses, but nothing else. You would need to add bodily injury liability, collision, comprehensive, and more to your basic plan manually for additional costs. Accident benefits vary because of your ability to select what you want, though many plans cover the following:

  • Funeral expenses up to your select limit
  • Property damage liability
  • Death benefits to your loved ones
  • Essential service coverage, helping you pay for cleaning, mowing, and other daily or weekly necessities
  • Income continuation to cover lost wages

PIP coverage pays out regardless of who caused the accident. You can put your PIP insurance as primary or secondary to your health insurance.

Personal injury insurance may not cover all expenses and needs. Car accident injuries often become expensive, or you may not realize the injury occurred until later. 

For example, some people receive traumatic brain injuries during car accidents without seeing symptoms for several weeks or months. During that time, they may have lost wages or experienced an unexplained decrease in overall health. Such situations often require more time to understand the extent of the damage to their body.

What Are Exceptions to the No-Fault System?

New Jersey lawmakers understood that being a no-fault state entails making room for exceptions. In some circumstances, the accident becomes severe enough for New Jersey drivers with basic auto policies to file civil lawsuits. Be mindful that you can file a suit for:

  • Significant disfigurement
  • Significant scarring
  • Displaced fractures
  • Dismemberment
  • Fetal loss
  • Permanent injury or disability

Those with standard insurance have a broader spectrum of legal rights to sue. You can also choose between a limited right and an unlimited right to sue.

Standard insurance with limited rights only allows cases when you or another insured sustains an injury as listed above. Standard with an unlimited right means you can seek full compensation whether or not you have the above injuries. Both types of standard insurance allow you to receive compensation for accidents caused by uninsured or underinsured motorists.

You must be able to prove in court that you suffered from the accident and that the other driver was at fault. We recommend relying on a seasoned lawyer to gather this information and make a case on your behalf.

Learn More About Car Insurance and Care from Our Lawyers

The law office of Aiello, Harris, Abate, Law Group PC offers our experience and tenacity to pursue your rights. We’re here to answer the question, “What does it mean to be a no-fault state?”

Our team can also help with car accidents, personal injury settlements, and more. We listen to each situation with a careful and compassionate ear.

Call an Aiello, Harris, Abate lawyer at (908) 561-5577 for a free consultation. We serve clients in Bergen County and across New Jersey. You and your loved ones can focus on recovering while we handle the details.

What Is an Affirmative Defense in Criminal Law?

If you received criminal charges in New Jersey, the state or prosecution is responsible for proving guilt. However, you may use affirmative defense to get an acquittal for criminal matters from the judge or jury. So, what is an affirmative defense in criminal law?

The lawyers at Aiello, Harris, Abate, Law Group PC have over 250 combined years of experience representing New Jersey residents with criminal offenses, including aggravated assault and criminal mischief. When people need criminal defense lawyers, we are the law firm they call. We have a reputation for our commitment to our clients and the hard work we put into legal representation. 

Below, we explain affirmative defense and how it can apply to your case.

What Are Affirmative Defenses?

Before answering the question “What is an affirmative defense in criminal law?” it’s necessary to understand that prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant is guilty of criminal offenses. They may attempt to establish guilt by presenting evidence of the components of a crime, which include:

  • Conduct
  • Harm
  • Intent
  • Mental state  

A criminal conviction may come with jail time, hefty fines, or probation. You’ll likely want to avoid a conviction if you are charged with a crime. To do that, your legal team may suggest affirmative defenses to introduce evidence for the defendant that proves they justifiably committed the criminal offense. 

In the criminal justice system, “affirmative” refers to the evidence or argument a defendant uses to negate the prosecution’s evidence proving illegal activity. In New Jersey, an affirmative defense applies only to a few situations where the courts excuse typical criminal activity because the defendant’s actions were necessary and justified. 

According to the state’s Supreme Court ruling in State v. Josephs, 174 N.J. 44, 102, an affirmative defense is only allowable if:

  • The defendant has a perceived risk of harm.
  • The defendant didn’t create or contribute to the criminal action.
  • The damage the defendant caused was unavoidable. 

What Are Examples of New Jersey Affirmative Defenses?

New Jersey doesn’t accept or allow affirmative defenses for all cases. However, your legal team may use this type of defense for cases involving:

  • Self-defense
  • Defense of others
  • Insanity
  • Duress
  • Diminished capacity
  • Statute of limitations
  • Non-voluntary intoxication

Any time a lawyer invokes affirmative defenses in New Jersey, the case’s burden of proof shifts from the prosecution to the defense team. Even if the state proves the defending party’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in court, the defendant could gain an acquittal if their team proves that an affirmative defense applies to the case and presents evidence. 

It’s sometimes best to assert an affirmative defense if the state has strong evidence for a crime’s components. 

Other Defensive Strategies in New Jersey

Affirmative defenses are not the only defensive strategies New Jersey attorneys use to represent their clients. Depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding a case, a defense team may assert failure to meet the burden of proof instead of an affirmative defense or constitutional defense. 

Failure to Meet the Burden of Proof

This strategy is a way to challenge the prosecution’s evidence. If the state cannot effectively prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of a crime, they shouldn’t be convicted for it. 

Prosecutors must prove various elements of a crime, including actions and mental states, as part of their case against the defendant. If the defense team can effectively argue against at least one of the state’s elements, they could help their client avoid a conviction. Demonstrating that one aspect of the prosecutor’s case could be enough to demonstrate New Jersey’s inability to meet its burden of proof

Constitutional Defenses

Constitutional defenses are similar to affirmative defenses. They could protect people with criminal charges from jail time even if they committed criminal acts. Examples of this defense strategy include amendment violations like:

  • Unreasonable search and seizure (Fourth Amendment)
  • Double jeopardy (Fifth Amendment)
  • Protection against self-incrimination (Fifth Amendment)

Contact a New Jersey Law Firm Experienced in Affirmative Defenses

The short answer to “What is an affirmative defense in criminal law?” is justification. If you are dealing with criminal matters in court, you should have a knowledgeable lawyer who can advocate for you.

At Aiello, Harris, Abate, Law Group PC, our team of 16 lawyers have experience in New Jersey’s criminal justice system. We know how to apply the appropriate criminal defense strategy to protect our client’s rights as they navigate the system. Call our New Jersey law firm for a free attorney consultation at (908) 561-5577.

How to Choose a Criminal Defense Lawyer: Five Tips

No one expects to be part of criminal matters, so they may not know how to choose a criminal defense lawyer when a situation calls for it. However, it’s not enough to settle on any lawyer when you face criminal charges. Instead, finding an appropriate New Jersey criminal defense attorney to represent the case can help make the process easier. 

If you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer in New Jersey, turn to the law firm of Aiello, Harris, Abate, Law Group PC Our attorneys have years of experience handling various cases, including those involving criminal defense. Below are five tips and things to look for when choosing a criminal defense lawyer.

1. Look for Responsiveness

You must act quickly if you are facing criminal mischief, aggravated assault, drug-related crime, burglary, or other criminal charges. Any lawyer you reach out to should respond to your inquiry quickly so they can begin working on the case as soon as possible.

It is safe to assume attorneys who do not respond to online or telephone inquiries within a reasonable time may not have enough time to devote to your case. Responsive criminal defense attorneys should quickly answer your call or email and arrange a meeting within one business day. If a lawyer you contact is not responsive, look for someone else.

2. Consider Their Area of Practice

Not all New Jersey attorneys have experience in the same practice areas. For instance, you wouldn’t hire an estate lawyer to represent you in a criminal case.

Some law firms may include criminal defense as one of their practice areas because they occasionally take criminal cases. Still, they may not be as knowledgeable about the state’s criminal law as a firm that focuses on criminal defense. 

As you learn how to choose a criminal defense lawyer, remember to seek attorneys with ample experience representing clients in criminal cases. In addition, ask them if they have experience working on state or federal cases, depending on the court system that charged you. 

3. Ask About Cost

Many people involved in criminal cases often ask themselves, “Should I work with a public defender or a lawyer of my choice?” To save money, many opt for public defenders. However, working with a public defender is not advisable in most criminal cases.

Most public defenders are inexperienced lawyers with heavy workloads. They may not have the time or knowledge necessary to handle your criminal case adequately. 

Cost can be a significant factor in hiring for your criminal defense. However, free public defenders should not be your top option if you want an attorney to devote time and effort to your case. 

4. Request References

Charismatic lawyers know how to resonate with their clients during their initial consultations. However, charisma doesn’t always equate to skill, compassion, or good intent. 

Before hiring a criminal defense lawyer, research them online to understand their abilities and character better. For instance, you can check with the New Jersey state bar to see if the attorney has formal discipline on their record. Some review websites don’t allow people to remove unfavorable reviews, so you can read what past clients say about the attorney before working with them. 

5. Consider Their Knowledge

It’s not uncommon for lawyers to look up laws, charge penalties, and other information if they do not know them off the top of their heads. However, good criminal defense attorneys understand the basics of their state’s criminal law and can answer most of their client’s questions without conducting research. 

For instance, a skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer will meet with you and outline the possible penalties for the charges within the case. They’ll also know which questions to ask to better grasp the case’s nuances to aid in their research, investigation, and court arguments. Always seek a lawyer who is comfortable within the local and federal criminal justice systems. 

Our Law Firm Can Help You Face Criminal Charges

After exploring tips on how to choose a criminal defense lawyer, turn to the attorneys at Aiello, Harris, Abate, Law Group PC With over 250 combined years of experience and a track record of positive experiences, our law firm has a respectable reputation throughout North and Central New Jersey.

Our criminal defense team can provide legal counsel if you don’t know what to do when facing a criminal charge. If you need representation, call for a free attorney consultation at (908) 561-5577.

Holiday “Cheers!” NJ DUI Laws That Could Ruin Your Season of Celebration

The lawyers at Aiello, Harris, Abate are currently involved in a case in which a young woman 23 years of age became intoxicated at an establishment, left the establishment and got into a serious automobile accident or she was driving on the wrong side of the road not only resulting in serious injuries to the other driver but also costing her life. Those also affected by this accident are not merely the driver who she seriously injured, but include his family members and her family members who are left with the devastation and loss. This loss and devastation is permanent and profound.

With The Holiday Season Upon Us, Let’s Not Forget The Risks Of Drinking & Driving

In New Jersey non-commercial driver’s who are 21 years of age and over are considered legally drunk when their blood alcohol level (BAC) ‘s .08% or more.

Drivers of commercial vehicles are legally drunk when their BAC level is .04 percent or greater.

Drivers under 21 are legally drunk when their BAC level is
.01 or more.

BAC? Are You Naughty or Nice?

First-time offenders with a BAC of .08 but less than .10 faces a term of imprisonment of up to 30 days and must pay a fine of at least $250 but not more than $400. The offender will lose his or her driver’s license for three months. In addition, a period of detainment of 12 to 48 hours spent during two consecutive days of at least six hours each day is required. During this time, the offender will be required to attend an intoxicated driver program.

A first-time offender with a BAC of .10 or higher faces a prison term of up to 30 days and must pay a fine of at least $300 but not more than $500. The offender must also forfeit his or her driver’s license for seven months to 1 year. In addition, a period of detainment of 12 to 48 hours spent during two consecutive days of at least six hours each day is required. During this time, the offender will be required to attend an intoxicated driver program.

A second conviction for DWI/DUI within 10 years of the first conviction, the offender faces a prison term of up to 90 days and must pay a fine of at least $500 but not more than $1,000. The offender must also forfeit his or her driver’s license for 2 years.

For a third or subsequent conviction within 10 years, the offender faces a mandatory prison term of at least 180 days in a county jail or a workhouse. The offender must also pay a $1,000 fine. A third and subsequent offender is also required to forfeit his or her driver’s license for 10 years for each conviction.

Rockin’ Around The School?

DWI penalties are increased when the violation occurs on school property, within 1,000 feet of school property, or while the offender is driving through a designated school crossing.

For a first offense, the offender faces a jail term of up to 60 days. The fine is between $500 and $800. The offender’s driver’s license will be suspended for 1 – 2 years.

For a second conviction, the offender faces a prison term of 90 hours to 180 days. The offender must also perform community service for 60 days. The fine is between $1,000 and $2,000. The offender’s driver’s license will be suspended for 4 years.

For a third offense, the offender faces 180 days imprisonment. The fine is $2,000. The offender’s driver’s license will be suspended for 20 years.

In addition, if an offender had had a person who was 17 or younger is in the vehicle at the time of the office will be required to forfeit his or her driver’s license for an additional period of not more than six months.

Holiday Events This Could Impact

  • School Holiday Pageants
  • Holiday Sports Tournaments
  • Holiday Bake Sales
  • Winter School Dances
  • Etc.

Further Consequences? More Coal On Christmas?

First-time DWI offenders may be required to install an ignition interlock device in every vehicle they own, use, or regularly operate for six months to one year after the offender’s driver’s license suspension period expires.

Second and subsequent convictions for DWI will result in having to install an ignition interlock device in every vehicle they own, use, or regularly operate for one to three years after the offender’s driver’s license suspension period expires.

Insurance surcharges are imposed for all people convicted of DWI in New Jersey who must pay a $150 surcharge. Of this, $75 is payable to the municipality where the conviction was obtained and $75 is payable to the State for deposit into its general fund.

Commercial drivers who are convicted of DWI while operating a commercial vehicle will have their commercial driver’s license suspended for 1 to 3 years for the first offense. If, however, however, the driver was also transporting hazardous materials at the time, the suspension period is three years.

Even if the commercial driver is convicted of DWI while operating a non-commercial vehicle, the offender’s commercial license will be suspended for one year. If a commercial driver commits a second DWI while operating a commercial vehicle, the offender’s commercial driver’s license will be suspended for life, which may or may not be reduced to a period of 10 years.

If the driver is underage who commits a DWI with a BAC of .01 but less than .08 is required to forfeit his or her driver’s license for 30 to 90 days. The underage offender is also required to perform community service work for 15 to 30 days and attend a program of alcohol education and highway safety. These penalties are in addition to any penalties that may be imposed under New Jersey’s DWI laws applicable to offenders 21 and older.

BEWARE: You’re Responsible For More Than Just The Fruit Cake & Egg Nog at Your Holiday Party This Year

The Social Host Liability Statute provides that a person who is injured as a result of the negligent provision of alcohol by a social host (a non-commercial establishment) to a person 21 or older may recover damages from the social host who was serving alcohol if the social host willfully and knowingly provided alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person under circumstances that created an unreasonable risk of foreseeable harm to the life of another; the social host failed to exercise reasonable care to avoid that risk; and the injury arose out of a motor vehicle accident caused by the visibly intoxicated person. Under this statute, if a blood alcohol test was given to the intoxicated person, the social host may be held liable if the person’s BAC measured .10 percent or more.

Share Cheer Not Beer

Be careful that you do not provide or sell alcohol to people that are under the age of 21 which is a petty offense that subjects the offender to a fine of up to $1,000. Additionally, a person who makes their home available to underage drinkers will also be guilty of a disorderly person offense.

Moral of The Story…Be Joyful, Be Merry But Don’t Drink and Drive

This holiday season, be vigilant that those you serve or provide alcohol in your home are 21 years of age or older and do not become intoxicated and please, DON’T DRINK & DRIVE!

If You Are Charged With a DUI or DWI In NJ, Don’t Wait, Contact Our Law Firm Today…Have Happy Holidays!

Please contact the NJ DWI lawyers at Aiello, Harris, Abate for a confidential consultation with a member of our qualified and experienced legal team.