If you have been arrested on any criminal charges, your number one priority should be hiring the right attorney. There are many Bergen County criminal lawyers, but how do you know which one is the best? You want to find a counselor who is well versed in criminal law and has years of experience dealing with the New Jersey court system. Your attorney should have an excellent reputation with the state bar and have previous clients who will provide a reference.
Understanding New Jersey’s Criminal Law
One of the most important characteristics to look for in an criminal lawyer is a keen knowledge of the type of crime for which you have been arrested and specific laws pertaining to those crimes in your state. For example; if you have been charged with drug possession or drug distribution, you would want to look for an attorney who has successfully handled similar cases in the past. If you have been charged with weapons possession, you should look for an attorney who has stayed apprised of the ever-changing gun control laws in the state and in the country.
The state is tough on drug charges and an attorney who has researched various drug-related cases can reference previous decisions in drug cases and use them to help to build your defense.
Everyone knows that a police officer must read you your rights when you are arrested if they want to ask you questions. They also cannot use excessive force. However, a good criminal attorney will also understand the rules that are specific to the state and stay on top of any changes to those rules. According to a recent law, a New Jersey police officer is not allowed to ask about your immigration status if you are arrested on unrelated charges. Prosecutors are not allowed to discredit witnesses based on immigration status.
There are also new rules regarding bail in the state of New Jersey. As of January 1, 2017, bail in New Jersey has been based on flight risk rather than monetary advantage. A judge now uses a risk assessment tool to determine if someone should be released prior to trial. Under the old system, criminal suspects with the most money were always the ones who were allowed to go free, because they were able to bail themselves out. Be sure to select an attorney who is well versed in the laws regarding bail and who knows how to make a good argument for risk-based bail.
What Questions to Ask
No matter how many good reviews and professional kudos an attorney may have, it is always important to ask a lot of questions and make sure a particular attorney is right for you. When you meet with a prospective lawyer, be sure to tell them every detail of your arrest and all about your criminal history. Ask about similar cases they have handled, what tactics they used to represent their clients and the results of those cases. Ask them about any specific challenges they see in your case. Ask them what kind of evidence they will use in your defense and what witnesses will testify on your behalf. Ask them what kind of research their staff will do to build your case.
Your attorney should stay in touch with you on a regular basis. They should keep you apprised of everything they learn about your case from the time you hire them until the day of your trial.
Being charged with a crime is amongst the worst things that can happen to anyone. A good criminal attorney can help you get the charges dropped or reduced and let you start over.