Category: Bail Reform
Ocean County Lawyers Discuss Plea Bargains
Serving Families in Ocean and Monmouth County towns including Toms River, Wall, Asbury Park, Point Pleasant, and Brick, NJ
In New Jersey criminal trials, accepting a plea bargain or plea agreement is an option for defendants who may wish to avoid the possibility of a harsh sentence. This bargaining process is basically an arrangement between the prosecution and the defendant where some concession is made in exchange for a guilty plea. In the interest of saving the government time and money, prosecutors may offer incentives to avoid having to invest extensive resources into cases that might otherwise take longer to resolve. These offers might result in certain charges being reduced to a lesser offense in exchange for a guilty plea, other charges being dismissed, or an overall sentence reduction.
In some cases, it may not even include jail time and the defendant will have to pay a fine or be subject to some other manageable punishment.
Although prosecutors can file numerous charges to gain leverage during plea bargaining, defendants still have some leverage. They are presumed to be innocent and have the right to cross examine witnesses produced against them. Defendants may elect whether they testify on their own behalf or remain silent to prevent self-incrimination.
Types of Plea Bargains in NJ
A plea bargain is an admission of guilt on the part of the defendant for a known outcome in terms of punishment or a reduced charge. The different types include:
- pleading guilty to one charge as other charges against the defendant are dismissed
- the prosecutor’s sentence recommendation to the judge as a result of the defendant’s guilty plea
- the defendant pleading guilty to a lesser offense than the original charge
A judge is not obligated to accept a plea agreement. Some initial agreements may require making minor changes to make it agreeable for both sides and acceptable to the court.
94% of New Jersey Defendants Plead Guilty
According to a recent op-ed by the Innocence Project, an Albert Kelly article was cited which stated that in 94% of New Jersey cases, the defendant took a plea bargain. It’s interesting to note that the defendant in most of those cases may have pleaded guilty to a crime they did not commit to avoid the possibility of jail time.
If you are innocent you should not be intimidated or coerced into pleading guilty to a crime you did not commit. You have the right to an aggressive and competent defense.
Why Do Innocent People Plead Guilty & Accept a Plea Deal in NJ?
Kelly cites court-appointed attorneys “often overwhelmed with casework and short on time and resources” as the reasons why defendants usually follow their advice to take plea deals.
In Why Innocent People Plead Guilty Jed S. Rakeoff says, “in actuality, our criminal justice system is almost exclusively a system of plea bargaining, negotiated behind closed doors and with no judicial oversight. The outcome is very largely determined by the prosecutor alone. In 2013, while 8 percent of all federal criminal charges were dismissed (either because of a mistake in fact or law or because the defendant had decided to cooperate), more than 97 percent of the remainder were resolved through plea bargains, and fewer than 3 percent went to trial. The plea bargains largely determined the sentences imposed.”
Other Reasons Defendants May Accept Plea Bargains in Brick, NJ
The uncertainty of a trial’s outcome and the time it may take, even for those who profess their innocence of the crimes, can seem too lengthy and risky. Aside from the stigma of a criminal conviction, the possibility of even a minimal jail sentence can be distressing and emotionally traumatic for employed people if they think it may result in the loss of:
- child custody
- their home or apartment due to missed rent/mortgage payments
- their significant other or spouse
In Which Cases Should One Consider a Plea Bargain in NJ?
- Driving while intoxicated (DWI) and/or driving under the influence (DUI)
- Traffic violations
- Drug possession
- Drug distribution
- Violent crimes, such as assault
- Threat crimes
- Domestic violence
- Juvenile crimes
- White collar offenses
- Internet-related crimes
Negotiating a Plea Deal to Avoid Jail Time in Ocean County, NJ
The most important element in getting a good plea bargain is having an aggressive defense. Prosecutors are not going to give you a good deal unless they think that your defense attorney is able to find holes in their case. An experienced and dedicated attorney is key to securing the best deal for you.
If you have a substance abuse problem, your attorney might be able to negotiate a plea deal that allows you to enter an alternative sentencing program, such as Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI), Conditional Discharge, or Drug Court. Since these programs are focused on rehabilitation, the defendant is usually able to stay out of jail as long as they meet certain requirements. A major benefit to alternative sentencing is that the defendant avoids getting a criminal conviction on their permanent record.
CONTACT A BRICK, NJ CRIMINAL ATTORNEY TODAY
The lawyers at the The Bronzino Law Firm are dedicated to ensuring a defendant’s rights are protected under the rules of the law, and to making sure that police and prosecutors are held accountable to those rules. You want an attorney that will fight for you by your side from arrest to sentencing – if your case does go that far.
We believe that by communicating honestly with our clients and keeping them well informed, we can find realistic and effective solutions for any legal matter. Our smaller law firm allows us to build personal relationships with our clients, and give them the attentive care they deserve.
Peter Bronzino and his legal team understand and have experience with the system in towns like Brick, Toms River, Lakewood, Jackson and across Ocean County. They utilize tools to divert your case to Drug Court, or Pre-Trial Intervention, or have the charges dropped completely because of Probable Cause, Illegal Search and Seizure or other legal technicalities.
Failing to Appear in Ocean or Monmouth County Courts
Serving Brick, Sea Girt, Toms River, and Wall Township and across the Jersey Shore
In New Jersey, a notice to appear is an official court order and should not be ignored. There can be serious consequences for failing to appear in court on a scheduled court date or to respond to a summons in a criminal offense or motor vehicle violation. What could have initially seemed to have been a simple parking ticket, traffic violation, or minor civil disturbance matter can evolve into a loss of driving privileges, court fees, the issuance of a warrant, revocation of bail, contempt of court charges, and even detention while you await trial.
No matter the reason, once a summons date has passed the issue is escalated, and the court or the judge has a greater amount of discretion to take. This includes issuing a bench warrant that authorizes police to make an immediate arrest. In addition, as part of the court record, bench warrants will likely show up on future background checks, even if the defendant is found guilty of failing to appear in a criminal matter, and is later acquitted of the underlying criminal charges.
Significant and unexpected events can happen in life, which may prevent someone from being able to make their court appearance. Open and honest communication with one´s legal counsel can help prevent any misunderstandings, arrest warrants, contempt fines, or jail time away from their loved ones.
Failure to Appear in Court: New Jersey Court Rule 7:8-9
Under New Jersey Court Rule 7:8-9, a judge can convict someone for failing to appear or respond to a court summons if:
- there is sufficient evidence that the person had proper notice of the trial date, and
- the court determines that the person intentionally did not come to court.
Potential Defenses for Failing to Appear in Court in Monmouth County, NJ
You will need to prove to the judge that a serious emergency physically prevented you from getting to court or responding to your summons. Potentially acceptable reasons may include:
- not being notified of the court date and time
- a previously scheduled court appearance
- a serious accident or illness
- a natural disaster
- a death in the family
Invalid Reasons for Failure to Appear in Court in Toms River, NJ
- moved and did not notify the court of your address change.
- thought the judge waived your appearance.
- had to work.
- were stuck in traffic.
Your car broke down.
The weather was bad.
I Missed My Court Date. What Now?
If you or someone you love in New Jersey, missed a court date for a traffic violation or a criminal offense or is trying to resolve a license suspension, arrest warrant, or an outstanding case, it is vital that you consult an experienced attorney who can best present your unique circumstances and explain your missed court appearance. Thus, possibly minimizing or avoiding any resulting penalties. This attorney should also be someone who can provide a strong defense of the underlying charges and increase the chances of an acquittal or reduction to a lesser charge.
CONTACT US AT OUR BRICK OR SEA GIRT OFFICE LOCATIONS
One of our lawyers is ready to provide a free case evaluation today!
The Bronzino Law Firm has decades of experience defending clients against traffic citations and criminal charges in Ocean and Monmouth County towns such as Wall, Jackson, Point Pleasant, Sea Girt, and the surrounding communities.
We believe that by communicating honestly with our clients and keeping them well informed, we can find realistic and effective solutions for any legal matter. Attorney Peter J. Bronzino has built his practice based on the belief that each one of his clients deserves compassionate, highly attentive, and effective legal counsel.
Whether you are facing a failure to appear charge related to a traffic violation, a disorderly person offense, or a city ordinance violation, our law firm can help you to negotiate with local courts, protect your rights, and ensure the future of you and your family.
Monmouth and Ocean County Detention Rules Impacted by NJ Bail Reform
In 2014 New Jersey passed a constitutional amendment referred to as the Bail Reform Act. Taking effect in January 2017, it allowed certain criminal defendants to be detained without bail. Along with this amendment, pretrial justice and speedy trial legislation that implemented a risk assessment system went into effect. Pretrial justice reform, commonly called ‘bail reform’, has greatly changed the pretrial detention system and decision-making process from one based on the experience and impressions of judges, to an objective system of risk assessment.
The Bronzino Law Firm has experience helping clients who are facing criminal charges gain release on bail across New Jersey in towns such as in Brick, Sea Girt, Toms River, Point Pleasant and the greater Monmouth and Ocean County area. Our attorneys are experienced at negotiating bail and release for our clients. We will help you navigate the often complicated legal process with the goal of defending your freedom as well as your rights.
Decisions on Detentions after Public Safety Assessment (PSA) in Monmouth County Courts
During a criminal detention hearing, both the prosecution and the defense are entitled to argue for detention or release. As well as arguments made by the prosecution and defense, the court uses evidence based risk assessment tools. A criminal defendant can only be detained while awaiting trial if the court finds that no condition or set of conditions would reasonably assure that the defendant will fail to appear, threaten public safety, or obstruct the criminal justice process.
In making this determination, the judge will consider the criminal defendant’s Pretrial Safety Assessment (PSA) score in addition to Decision Making Framework (DMF) recommendations on detention or release conditions.
A criminal defendant’s PSA score is primarily based on three categories, influenced by certain risk assessment factors:
- Failure to appear
- Pending charges at the time of arrest
- Prior convictions
Other factors that can affect a defendant’s PSA score include the following:
- Defendant’s age
- Prior indictable offenses
- Prior failure to appear within the last two years
- Previous incarceration sentence
- New violent criminal activity
- Current violent offense
- Violent offender under the age of 21
- New criminal activity
The Decision Making Framework (DMF) obligates the judge to engage in a 10-step process, using the defendant’s PSA score for the appropriate categories of failure to appear, new criminal activity, and new violent criminal activity, as well as other factors.
Is it Possible to Appeal an Ocean County Judge’s Detention Order?
The PSA and DMF recommendations are tools the judge uses in determining whether to jail a criminal defendant, release the defendant on their own recognizance, or release them with specific conditions. The judge holds complete discretion in making this decision and will consider the arguments presented by the prosecution and defense. Making a decision that goes against the recommendation of the risk assessment, requires the judge to provide an explanation.
Any release or detention order may be appealed if the judge abused his or her discretion in arriving at the decision. In establishing abuse of discretion, the appealing party is required to show that the judge made the decision without a rational explanation, inexplicably did not following established policies, or reached the decision on an impermissible basis.
Contact our Experienced Sea Girt Criminal Defense and Bail Attorneys Today
The criminal defense and bail attorneys at Kamensky, Cohen & Riechelson have extensive experience gaining bail for clients charged with all manner of criminal offenses from minor to major in Mercer County towns including New Brunswick, Hamilton, Lawrence, Princeton and Trenton. Since we opened our doors in 1972 our firm has believed in aggressively and jealously defending our clients charged with criminal offenses and using every possible legal tool to help them gain their freedom.
If you or someone you know has been arrested and are seeking release on bail contact us for a free and confidential consultation regarding your case. Please contact us online or through our Trenton, New Jersey offices by dialing (609) 528-2596 today.