Ask a Vineland Traffic Attorney – Criminal Traffic Charges, Know What to Expect
I have previously covered some of what the differences are between a traffic violation and a criminal charge stemming from a traffic matter. In short, one leaves you facing a criminal record and jail-time where the other can only result in points, fines, and a revocation of your driving privileges. New Jersey has passed many laws in recent years allowing drivers who commit certain types (and certain second offenses) of traffic matters which were previously only traffic violations to now be charged criminally.
If you are facing a criminal traffic charge, there are several things to take into account. First, stay calm – depending on the type of charge, your history, and with the help of an attorney experienced in criminal traffic matters, your charge can often be lessened or dismissed altogether. It is important to retain an attorney as early in the process of your defense as possible – immediately after you are pulled over and before you have given any statements to the police, if possible. If not, don’t worry, but you should call an experienced attorney as soon as possible following being pulled over or your arrest.
Know how the Courts treat criminal traffic matters
With traffic violations, you are issued a summons. When charged with a traffic-related crime, you are often arrested and then arraigned or issued an arraignment. The penalties can include tickets, fines, and jail time. The fact that you are being charged with a traffic related disorderly persons or indictable offense will allow you additional rights as a defendant. As I mentioned earlier, if you have not already retained an attorney, the time of your arraignment is a good time to request to do so. A court-appointed attorney can be issued, but it is highly advisable to retain an attorney who is experience in handling traffic related criminal matters. It is usually inadvisable to plead to any charge or try to work out a plea bargain on your own.
Lesser disorderly persons criminal charges are handled at the Municipal Court level within the township, city, or borough where the alleged crime occurred. You will not be afforded a trial by jury for a disorderly persons or petty disorderly persons offense.
The more serious indictable charges are handled at the Superior Court level within the County in which the alleged crime occurred. In this instance you can request to have a trial by jury, but it must go to a grand jury first which will decide whether the issue warrants a trial by jury. Again, it is highly advisable to have an attorney representing you through the process of defending yourself against an indictable charge. Even if you cannot afford an attorney, it is beneficial to consult with an attorney and pay a consultation fee for the one meeting prior to appearing or speaking with the prosecutor.
Understand your charges
The types of traffic-related charges in which a driver can be charged criminally include reckless driving, assault with a vehicle, possession of a drug or firearm, hit & run/ leaving the scene of an accident, a second offense DWI, driving with a suspended licence, and a second offense of driving with a suspended or revoked license, and now, causing bodily harm as a result of negligent distracted driving. If you have been charged with any of these crimes, contact us today so that we can step in on your behalf to protect your rights and fight to dismiss or reduce the charges and penalties you are facing.
If you have been charged in a traffic related criminal matter, contact us today
The Law Offices of Joseph Lombardo has been successfully representing individuals charged in traffic related criminal matters since 1993. Joseph Lombardo is a former Municipal Court Prosecutor and has handled the defense of hundreds of criminal matters at both the Municipal and Superior Court level in every county and township in South Jersey. Mr. Lombardo offers free initial consultations and in the case of an emergency, is on call 24 hours a day to make jail or detention center visits. Click here to contact Mr. Lombardo.