A Criminal Defense Firm Prepared To Protect Your Rights And Your Future

If you are facing criminal charges, it's important for you to understand what's at stake when you choose a criminal defense attorney. New Jersey is tough on crime. A conviction for some sex offenses, for example, may subject you to parole supervision for life (PSL). On top of that, New Jersey has some of the nation's strictest gun control laws and vigorously prosecutes armed robbery and other gun crimes.

Robert A. Smith of Smith & Gaynor, LLC, is an AV® Preeminent peer review-rated attorney committed to building long-lasting partnerships with his clients. AV® Preeminent is the highest possible rating given by Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review RatingsTM, considered to be the industry standard in accurately scoring lawyers on a combination of their legal knowledge, communication skills and ethical standards.

Strategies For Your Defense

Bob Smith is a courtroom veteran who pursues creative strategies based on methodical investigation of the facts surrounding your case. While there may be times when it is appropriate to take a plea, it should not be your attorney's default position. As your criminal defense attorney, our job is to attack the state's case against you and dismantle it piece by piece. Our goal is to have the charges reduced or dropped, or if your case goes to trial, to convince the jury that you are not guilty. At Smith & Gaynor, LLC, we understand the stakes involved and are ready to provide personal and effective legal representation for charges including:

  • Theft and shoplifting
  • Burglary and robbery
  • Juvenile crimes
  • Drug possession
  • Drug sales
  • Sex crimes
  • Drug distribution
  • Assault
  • Probation violations

What To Expect If You Have Been Charged With A Crime In New Jersey

New Jersey law classifies crimes as indictable offenses, disorderly persons offenses and petty disorderly persons offenses. An indictable offense is what is more commonly known as a felony, while disorderly persons and petty disorderly persons charges are similar to misdemeanors. How your case proceeds depends on how it is classified.

Indictable crimes are further broken into first, second, third and fourth degree charges. The most serious offenses are first degree crimes such as armed robbery, kidnapping, rape and distribution of large quantities of drugs. Second degree offenses include aggravated assault and theft of property valued at $75,000 or more. Third and fourth degree offenses include fraud and sale of less than one ounce of marijuana.

In general, a serious criminal case is heard in superior court, while lesser charges are heard in the municipal court of the city or town in which the offense occurred. In most cases, DUI charges are heard in municipal court as they are considered to be traffic violations and not an offense, but they still carry significant penalties, including steep fines and jail time.

Appearing In Court

In your first court appearance (whether in superior or municipal court), you will be read your rights, including your right to counsel —a New Jersey criminal defense lawyer or, if you're destitute, a public defender. At the first hearing, the judge also will decide whether you will be given bail or if you will be released on your own recognizance (ROR).

If the prosecutors have decided to pursue the charges, they will take your case to a grand jury. The grand jury decides whether there is sufficient evidence against you to bring you to trial. Most criminal cases begin with a decision by a grand jury to indict the defendant. An indictment is the official document that charges you with a crime. Grand juries consist of 23 people who generally meet once a week for 16 weeks. Grand juries are operated by prosecutors, who decide what evidence the grand jury hears. Grand jury proceedings are not open to the public.

A prearraignment conference must take place within 21 days of the indictment. At this conference, prosecutors make their evidence available to your defense attorney. This is also where plea bargains and applications for pretrial interventions can be made.

A formal arraignment must take place with 50 days of the indictment. At your arraignment, you will be officially notified of the charges against you, and you will be given an opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty to those charges.

If you plead not guilty at this point, plea negotiations may continue while both sides prepare for trial. Later in the process, there will be status conferences and pretrial conferences at which you can enter a new plea if plea negotiations were successful. At a certain point, however, there will be a plea cutoff date, after which no further plea negotiations occur. At that point, trial is the only option.

The Trial Process

Throughout the pretrial and trial process, your attorney and the legal staff at Smith & Gaynor, LLC, are working to suppress illegally obtained evidence and to get your case dismissed. A criminal case can be thrown out for many reasons, including the state's failure to give you proper notice of the offense, its failure to prove a prima facie case or its failure to comply with a legitimate discovery request. Our experience and tenacity, along with our lawyers' trial skills, have helped us build a record of success on behalf of our clients.

Reach Out For A Free Consultation

At Smith & Gaynor, LLC, we understand the stakes involved with your criminal charge and are ready to provide personal and effective legal representation. We know how to fight for your future while at the same time always maintaining an open line of communication. The lawyer you hire is the lawyer you get, every step of the way. Contact us online or by phone at 973-532-2661 today to schedule your cost-free consultation.

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