Joseph A. Lombardo
Every day, people are charged with crimes, put on trial, and put in prison. The United States has some of the highest rates of incarceration in the world. Everyone, no matter what, is guaranteed certain rights as a defendant in a criminal trial. Unfortunately, the government and prosecutors sometimes trample those rights in their pursuit of justice. No matter what kind of consequences you face, whether it be a lengthy prison term or only some small fines, you must defend your rights at trial.
Being charged with a crime is an extremely stressful and often frightening experience for anyone. The legal system can be complicated and confusing, making it easy to feel stuck or trapped. It is essential to your case that you hire an experienced Camden County criminal defense lawyer to represent you. If you have been charged with a crime, contact a Camden County criminal defense lawyer at the Lombardo Law Group, LLC by calling (609) 445-4300 and scheduling a free legal consultation.
What Crimes Can I Be Charged with in Camden County?
You have likely heard on television and in movies terms like “felony” or “misdemeanor” in regard to criminal charges. In many states, these are the terms used to describe different kinds of crimes. New Jersey, however, is a bit different and uses a different set of terms to describe various types of criminal charges. New Jersey uses the terms “crime,” “disorderly person offense,” and “petty disorderly person offense” when referring to different criminal charges. It is possible to be charged with any combination of these offenses in Camden County.
Disorderly person offenses are generally minor offenses and do not come with stiff penalties. At most, a defendant charged with a disorderly person offense can be sentenced to a prison term of no more than 6 months. A petty disorderly person offense is even less significant and carries a prison term of no more than 30 days. These types of offenses are different because they are not considered crimes in New Jersey. A defendant for a disorderly person offense does not necessarily have a right to a trial.
All other offenses in New Jersey are called “crimes” or “indictable offenses.” Crimes are broken down into four subcategories based on severity. From least to most serious, there are fourth-degree, third-degree, second-degree, and first-degree crimes. Crimes tend to come with longer prison sentences, higher fines, and will be reflected in a defendant’s criminal history. Being charged with a crime should be taken very seriously and a defendant should hire an attorney as soon as possible.
Could I Go to Prison in Camden County?
You can absolutely go to prison for criminal charges in Camden County. Potential prison terms are one of the many reasons why criminal charges of any kind must be taken very seriously and why you should hire a skilled criminal defense attorney to handle your case. Different offenses will result in different prison terms, so it is crucial that you fully understand the charges against you.
For disorderly person offenses, there is a maximum penalty of 6 months in prison. For petty disorderly person offenses, the penalty is only a maximum of 30 days. These offenses tend to be relatively minor and may not result in prison sentences at all but fines instead. Crimes, however, tend to carry more strict prison terms. Fourth-degree crimes carry prison terms of up to 18 months. Third-degree crimes have prison terms ranging from a minimum of 3 years to a maximum of 5 years. For second-degree crimes, a defendant faces 5 to 10 years in prison. Finally, for first-degree crimes, the possible prison term will be between 10 and 20 years.
What Are My Rights as a Defendant in Camden County?
Every criminal defendant is guaranteed certain trial rights under the United States Constitution and the state law of New Jersey. Some rights are broad and apply to the entire criminal justice process, such as the right to an attorney. However, other rights are more specific and may only come up under certain circumstances, such as certain procedural rights that may be waived if you so wish. Some of the more significant rights you have as a defendant are the right to a trial by a jury of your peers and the right to an attorney.
It is possible that prosecutors do not want to take you to trial and will instead offer you a plea agreement or plea bargain. This agreement entails entering a guilty plea and avoiding a trial in exchange for a lesser punishment. Taking a plea agreement means you will waive your right to a trial. Sometimes a plea agreement may be what the defendant wants. However, you always have the right to a trial. You may feel pressured by prosecutors to waive your trial rights because it makes their jobs much easier, but you should never be afraid to assert your rights and demand a trial.
The right to an attorney exists for all defendants and is perhaps the most important right you have. Going through a trial can be a long, confusing, terrifying experience. It is the job of a Camden County criminal defense lawyer to defend your rights and fight for your best interests in court. You may not fully understand the charges against you or their consequences, but your lawyer will have the skills and knowledge to provide you with the best defense possible.
You Should Contact a Camden County Criminal Defense Attorney
Being charged with a crime in Camden County is only the first step in what is likely to be a very long and arduous process. It is very easy to become confused and overwhelmed during the criminal justice process. You may not fully understand your charges or your rights as a defendant. You should contact an experienced Camden County criminal defense lawyer at the Lombardo Law Group, LLC by calling (609) 445-4300. Let a skilled attorney defend your rights in a court of law.
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