Bellizia Law Office
Fax: 973-743-2290 firstname.lastname@example.org
Asbury Park Office Address
501 Grand Avenue
Asbury Park, NJ 07712
Bloomfield Office Address
395 Franklin St
Bloomfield, NJ 07003
Those accused of crimes have a number of rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution. These rights include: the right to remain silent in order to avoid self-incrimination, the right to competent legal representation, the right to reasonable bail, right to a fair and public trial, right to be informed of the charges against you, the right to be confronted with the witnesses against you and to gather witnesses of your own, and a number of other rights.
A criminal defendant is also presumed innocent until proven guilty. This means the prosecutor has the burden of proving (beyond a reasonable doubt) you committed the criminal act(s) in question. This also means a defendant does not have to do anything or say anything to prove s/he is innocent.
There are also laws regarding search and seizure which require law enforcement to obtain a search warrant before they are allowed to search a specific place, at a specific time, for specific persons, evidence, contraband, and/or other items. It is important to keep in mind there are some circumstance where police do not need a warrant to search and/or arrest you.
What should I do if I have been arrested?
If you have been arrested, answer all questions about your identification-- such as name, address, and birth date-- truthfully. While you have the right to refrain from answering self-incriminating questions, lying is never a good idea. Giving officers a hard time during the arrest process is also not very beneficial. It usually just makes things tougher on you.
What should I do if I get a call that a loved one has been arrested?
Try to gather as much information as possible about the arrest and write it down. The following questions may be useful: What is the name, birth date, and social security number of the arrested person? What has s/he been charged with? What law enforcement agency made the arrest? Where is the arrested person being held? Has bail been set and, if so, what is the amount?
How do I get out of jail after an arrest?
If bail has been set, the only way to get the person out of jail is to pay the bond for his/her release. A bail bond is like insurance; it means that the suspect agrees to appear at all subsequent legal proceedings. Failure to do so can result in forfeiture of the bond, the issuance of an arrest warrant, and the loss of subsequent bail privileges. In certain criminal cases bail may be denied. If the judge believes there is a high risk, the defendant will flee, or if s/he has been charged with a serious crime like murder, bail may be denied.
Why should I hire a criminal defense attorney?
The importance of competent legal representation is so enormous that the Constitution guarantees every criminal defendant the right to an attorney. A criminal attorney is your best asset after being charged with a crime. This expert knows the laws and court customs relevant to your case, and can apply this knowledge to protect and maximize your legal interests. No matter what your legal situation, a criminal attorney will help you more than you could help yourself by going it alone. In fact, most judges will not even consider a plea bargain from a defendant without legal representation.
What is the difference between a disorderly person's offense and a felony?
Most crimes are divided into two categories, based on the severity of the crime: disorderly person's offense and felony. State law governs which crimes are considered more serious than others. Generally speaking, a disorderly person's offense is one where the maximum penalty is one year or less in prison.
A felony crime is a more serious crime that can result in jail or prison time for more than one year. Felony charges also bring a number of other legal repercussions if the defendant is convicted. In some states, under certain circumstances, a crime can be considered a disorderly persons offense or a felony, depending on the specifics of the case. A qualified attorney can maximize your chance that your crime is charged as a lesser offense.
When a fine is the punishment for a legal violation, the action is considered an infarction rather than a criminal offense. For example, a parking ticket is an infarction rather than a criminal charge. In some cases, however, a crime may only receive a fine and it will still be counted as a disorderly person's offense. For example, possessing a small amount of marijuana for personal use in some states may be a disorderly person's offense punishable by fine.
What types of punishments do I face if convicted of a crime?
Sentencing can vary depending on the location of the case, the crime, the judge (and sometimes jury), and other specifics of the criminal case. In some cases a punishment for a particular crime is governed by the federal sentencing guidelines, and the judge does not have a big impact on determining the punishment. In other cases, the sentence is up to the judge's discretion, who will take a variety of factors into account when determining a convicted offender's punishment.
The most common punishments for a criminal conviction include: incarceration (in jail, prison, or another detention facility), punitive fines, restitution (compensation to the victim), probation, and community service. There are a variety of other penalties that may be more specific to the criminal case. For example, if you are convicted of a DUI or DWI you may be required to attend a DUI school or a drug/alcohol treatment program, have a Breathalyzer installed in your vehicle, face driving sanctions, and more.
What to do if you are arrested: If you have broken a law, or if law enforcement officers suspect that you have broken a law, you may be placed under arrest. The following is a brief summary of your rights and what you can expect. This should be used for informational purposes only. If you are arrested, consult an attorney immediately.
When am I under arrest? You are under arrest when law enforcement officers take you in to custody or deprive you of your freedom of movement in order to hold you to answer for a criminal offense.
What are my rights when the police question me? You have the right to remain silent. But, if you choose to speak, anything you say can be used against you in court. If you decide to answer questions, you may stop answering them at any time. You have the right to consult with an attorney before answering any questions, and to have an attorney present during questioning.
Can an officer detain me without arresting me? Short answer, yes. The police are allowed to require you to identify yourself and explain your presence at a particular time and place. If the officer believes you may be armed or dangerous, he or she may conduct a limited pat down. The officer can question you, and although you have the right not to answer, a failure to identify yourself may be grounds for arrest. The officer cannot hold you for an extended period -they must either let you go or make an arrest.
When can I be arrested without a warrant? You can be arrested without a warrant if you commit an offense in the presence of a police officer, or if a credible person reports that you committed a felony and are about to escape.
How much force may a police officer use? Police officers can use "reasonable and necessary" force to overcome resistance. Resisting arrest can also be a criminal offense.
What property of mine can an officer search? This is a complicated question that depends on many factors. Generally, if you are arrested in your home, the officers can conduct a limited search of the immediate area without a search warrant. If they find contraband, stolen property, or evidence of a crime, they can seize it. The officers can also check the rest of the house for accomplices. If you are arrested in your car, the officers can search for weapons you may use against them. They must have probable cause that the car contains contraband or evidence of a crime to conduct a general search of the car.
What happens after I am arrested? The officers will transport you to some sort of detention facility (usually a jail or a police station), where you will be allowed to contact an attorney. You will be advised of the charges against you, and you may be required to stand in a lineup or provide other evidence such as hair and blood samples or fingerprints. You should have an attorney present if you are fingerprinted or photographed, or if you have to appear before a magistrate.
How do I get released? You can be released on bail (either cash or a bond) as security for your appearance in court, or you may be released on your own recognizance (your promise to come back to court when you are told).
What is next? Call The Law Offices of Prosper A. Bellizia. Mr. Bellizia is extremely experienced in criminal law, and can help you even if you did not call an attorney right away. When you call us, you will get an immediate response. Mr. Bellizia and his staff are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, holidays and weekends included. Please do not hesitate to contact us now to arrange a free consultation.
It takes an attorney with the confidence and experience of a former prosecutor to properly deal with authorities when it comes to defending you against criminal charges. If you have been accused or charged with such a crime, please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Bellizia immediately. Criminal matters are not problems that will go away when ignored. Early intervention in criminal matters, may achieve outstanding results, and will be instrumental to the outcome of your case.