Self-Defense: When the Use of Force is Justified in Protecting Yourself and Others

When dealing with criminal charges in New jersey, self defense is one of the most common types of legal defenses. While you may have felt the need to take certain actions to protect yourself, others, or your property, you could still find yourself on the wrong side of the law. Charges such as assault and battery or weapons offenses are a serious matter in our state and could result in harsh penalties, including a jail sentence. In addition to a conviction and a criminal record that will follow you the rest of your life, you could also face civil liability for any injuries that result. The following outlines what you need to know about self-defense as a legal strategy and whether it applies in your particular situation.

When Self-Defense Applies in Criminal Cases


In cases involving people charged with different types of physical assaults, one of the first claims they make is often that they acted in self-defense. While this may have been your motivation in a particular situation, it has to meet strict criteria to be accepted as a legal defense against criminal charges in a court of law. Under Section 2C:3-4 of the New Jersey Statutes, the use of force is justifiable in cases where it is immediately necessary to protect yourself against unlawful force being used by another person against you. Examples of this type of situation include:

  • When someone has pushed, shoved, punched, or taken some action against you and is threatening to continue the behavior;
  • Whensomeone has a weapon, such as a gun, bat, pipe, or other object, which they are threatening to use against you;
  • When you are a victim of a crime, such as a mugging or sexual assault, and the use of force is required to keep the situation from escalating further.

Situations in which the use of force is not justified include when you are trespassing on another’s property and they are attempting to get you to leave, when you have been forcibly removed from someone’s property or establishment and are attempting to reenter, and when you are being placed under arrest or being detained by law enforcement officers.


New Jersey ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws

There is a classic scene in many movies when the hero uses force to defend his or her property against trespassers, vandals, thieves, or those who would otherwise cause harm. The actor may even go so far as to taunt the intruder, ala Clint Eastwood, to “Make my day.” In real life, there is a fine line between taking needed actions to defend yourself and committing a criminal offense. Known by attorneys as the castle doctrine and often referred to as ‘stand your ground’ laws, they apply only in limited situations.

According to the National Council of State Legislators (NCLS), nearly half the states in the U.S. have stand your ground laws which do not require you to retreat if someone is trespassing on your property. However, New Jersey is not one of those states. The law requires that you must retreat from an attacker and may only use force if it is necessary, reasonable, and in proportion to an imminent attack. The same goes for defending another person who is being threatened. Automatically lashing out and taking actions against the offender could result in criminal charges and a civil lawsuit.

Let Our Middlesex County Criminal Attorney Help You Build a Strong Defense


At the Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, Esq., we will thoroughly review all aspects of your case in order to build a strong, effective legal defense. To request a consultation, call or contact our Milltown criminal defense attorney online today.

Five Times You Need to Update Your Will

Having a legally valid will in place helps ensure that your final wishes are communicated to loved ones and allows you to designate who will inherit from your estate. If you have not taken the time to create a will, this important task should be at the top of your list. However, a will is not something to do once and forget. There are numerous reasons why you may want to update it over the years. In addition to reflecting the current state of your finances and the property you own, it should also reflect any changes in your family situation.

The Importance of Having a Will and Updating it Regularly

According to surveys from the American Association of Retired People (AARP), more than 60% of U.S. adults do not have a will or other important estate planning documents in place. In addition to providing an inventory of the property and assets you own, your will can convey how you want your estate to be handled and how distributions to friends, family, or charities should be made. It can also include provisions for the care of dependants, such as children or pets.

While many people attempt ‘do it yourself’ wills, these often contain errors and may not comply with New Jersey state laws. As a result, they can be easily contested. To protect yourself, it is important to consult with an attorney who is experienced in all aspects of estate planning. However, even once a legally valid will is in place, it still needs to be updated regularly.  It should reflect any changes in the amount of property and assets you own, as well as any changes that have occurred within your family since it was created.

How Family Matters Impact Your Will

When you pass away, your estate must be settled through a branch of the New Jersey surrogate court, depending on the county in which you reside. If you die without a will in place, this is known as dying intestate. Your property will be distributed according to state law, rather than your wishes. It could exclude certain important people while costing your loved ones both time and money.

If you do have a will but it is not properly updated to reflect your current family situation, it could also end up causing delays and disputes. To avoid this situation, make sure your will reflects the following:

  • Births: While children have basic inheritance rights when it comes to their parents, specify your wishes regarding them and any stepchildren, grandchildren, or even nieces and nephews you wish to inherit.
  • Deaths: If you leave money or property to a loved one who eventually passes, his or her share will go to his or her children. If you would rather that money be redistributed among other beneficiaries, specify this in your will.
  • Marriages: As spouses also have automatic inheritance rights, this is an important issue to address among beneficiaries.
  • Separation or Divorce: While you are separated, your spouse still has automatic inheritance rights. However, once divorced, this is no longer the case. If you wish to leave them something, you will need to specify that.
  • Health Issues: If a beneficiary suffers an illness, injury, or mental health problem, it may be wiser to leave that person money in a trust instead.


Reach Out to Our Middlesex County Family Law Attorney


At the Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, Esq., we provide the legal guidance you need when creating a will or when making changes to reflect your current situation. Reach out and contact our Milltown estate planning attorney today to request a consultation.

Legal Options to Protect You Against Domestic Violence

Domestic violence involves any type of physical, sexual, emotional, or financial abuse that occurs with someone you live with, are dating, or with whom you share a child. While it may start small, with occasional angry outbursts, disrespectful behavior, or stinging comments, it can quickly escalate to a potentially life-threatening situation. Our experienced New Jersey family law attorney can help domestic violence sufferers get the protection they need. The following outlines some of the options available.

Obtaining a Restraining Order

Domestic violence consists of any type of abusive behavior that occurs within a relationship. It is often used by perpetrators to exert power or control over a partner. It can consist of acts of physical violence against you, family members, or even pets, as well as threats, harassment,  blame, and intimidation tactics. It may involve isolating you in your home, keeping you from access to money or services, and destroying your property. According to the New Jersey State Police (NJSP), all of these actions fall under state criminal laws and can result in the immediate arrest of the person involved.  

It is important to realize that when domestic violence occurs in a relationship, the situation almost always gets worse in time. Put downs and threats can quickly escalate to the point of being life threatening. To protect yourself, it is important to take the steps needed to create distance between you and your offender and to take legal action to keep them from contacting you in the future. The NJSP advises that while there are support services for domestic violence victims throughout the state that can prove helpful, a temporary restraining order (TRO) may be your best course of action to protect yourself. Depending on the circumstances, a TRO may be obtained from the Family Court and can prevent the accused from doing the following:

  • Returning to your home, school, work, or other locations;
  • Contacting you by phone, by U.S. mail, or by email;
  • Contacting you through other people, such as friends or family members;
  • Possessing firearms or other weapons which could pose a threat.

A TRO can also give you the rights to certain property, such as a home or vehicle, while requiring the offender to pay child and spousal support. If the offender violates the TRO in any way, he or she will be subject to immediate arrest and criminal contempt charges.  

Protection in Emergency Situations

If you feel your spouse or significant other poses an immediate threat, you should call the police.

The New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice advises that under the New Jersey Domestic Violence Prevention Act, officers must arrest a suspect and sign a complaint against them if a victim of domestic violence has any obvious signs of abuse, such as cuts, scratches, or bruising.  

Even if there are no outward signs of injury, police may make an arrest if there are other circumstances that indicate domestic violence has occurred, such as broken furnishings or holes in walls. In this situation, you may be able to obtain a TRO without going to court. The officer will take a statement from you at the scene and can contact a judge to authorize the TRO via telephone, radio dispatch, or other electronic means.

Let Our Middlesex County Family Law Attorney Help You

When domestic violence occurs, there is help available. At the Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, Esq., we can guide you through the legal process while taking the steps needed to protect your safety. Contact our Milltown domestic violence attorney today and request a confidential consultation to discuss the options in your situation.  

Protecting Your Child Against Juvenile Charges

Milltown Juvenile Defense Attorney

Parents do their best to instill strong values in their children. Unfortunately, running with the wrong crowd, making an error in judgment, or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time could put your children on the wrong side of the law. While juvenile charges are handled differently than adult charges, they are still a serious matter that could have long-lasting effects on your entire family. If you are the parent of a young person charged with a crime, the following outlines what you need to know and how to protect them in the juvenile justice system.

What to Expect When Your Child is Charged With a Crime

There are special rules that govern how children under the age of 18 are treated when they face criminal charges. In criminal matters concerning adults, the focus is more on the penalties they face upon conviction. With juvenile crimes, the focus is more on rehabilitation and keeping them from committing acts outside of the law in the future. Common types of crimes committed by young people include:

  • School truancy;
  • Trespassing;
  • Vandalism;
  • Shoplifting and other minor theft offenses;
  • Getting into fights/minor assaults;
  • Sexual assault or harassment;
  • Drug and alcohol related charges;
  • Traffic offenses.

In New Jersey, the Juvenile Justice Commision (JCC) overseas cases involving youthful offenders. Rather than being officially charged with a crime, a delinquency complaint is filed against them. Instead of presenting their case at a formal court trial involving a judge or a jury, their cases are generally adjudicated. This means that agreements on possible punishments/treatments will be negotiated among JCC officials, the police, and the attorney involved.

In cases of more serious crimes, their charges may be referred to the Family Court. Again, there is no jury trial. Instead, the issue is typically resolved through plea bargains and negotiations. Penalties your child is likely to face include fines, probation, mandatory community service, and attendance at counseling or treatment programs. In cases of violent crimes or repeat offenders, your child may be removed from your home and held at a juvenile detention center. While it bears little resemblance to an adult jail, it is still a sparse, highly restrictive environment. Furthermore, any time you get to spend with your child will be limited.


Providing the Help Your Child Needs

One of the most important steps you can take in protecting your child is to get an experienced juvenile defense attorney on his or her side. We can negotiate with law enforcement officials and JCC administrators to help reduce the penalties your child faces and increase the likelihood of him or her remaining in your home. Additional ways you can help in this situation include:

  • Take a proactive approach by getting your child involved in treatment or community service prior to a court order.
  • Get written statements from family and community, attesting to the child’s character and contributions to the family and society.
  • Enforce penalties at home, such as tight curfews and limited phone or driving privileges to prevent your child from getting into additional trouble.
  • Talk to your child about the seriousness of the situation and the impact it can have on the rest of his or her life.

Juvenile arrest records will not remain a part of your child’s permanent record. However, they may still be visible to schools and certain state or federal agencies. Once they have completed all court requirements, you may apply to have their record expunged through the Department of Corrections.


Our Middlesex County Criminal Defense Attorney is Here to Help 


Do not let a minor offense derail your child’s future. Contact our Milltown juvenile defense attorney and request a consultation to get the Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, Esq. fighting on your side.

Milltown Juvenile Defense Attorney

Important Assets That Often Go Undetected in Divorce Proceedings

Marital property and asset division plays an important role in divorce proceedings. Decisions made have the potential to impact you, your financial security, and your ability to recover in the months and years to come. It is important to get legal guidance in regards to these matters from an experienced Milltown divorce attorney before signing any documents or entering into any agreements. This can help prevent potentially valuable assets from being overlooked or not included as part of your settlement.


Dividing Marital Assets in Your Divorce


Under New Jersey’s divorce statutes, any property and assets earned, acquired, or otherwise accumulated during your marriage are subject to equitable distribution. In determining who gets what in your divorce settlement, factors that will likely influence the judge’s decision include the length of the marriage, each person’s individual income and assets, and their contributions during the time they were together. One of the first steps in reaching an equitable agreement is providing a complete inventory of all assets and property you possess. This includes:


  • Real estate;
  • Motor vehicles;
  • Household items;
  • Personal belongings;
  • Bank accounts and investments.


To ensure all of these assets are included, our attorney will carefully guide you in completing an inventory. While obvious items, such as homes, cars, and savings accounts, maybe the first thing on your list, there may be important and valuable items you overlook.


Marital Assets You May Overlook


With so much to consider when going through a divorce, it is understandable to forget certain items when creating a marital property inventory or to overlook their value. Unfortunately, this could have a major impact on both your current and future financial security. Getting the maximum amount you are entitled to in your settlement plays an important role in divorce recovery. The following are common types of items that are often overlooked:


  • Vacation homes and timeshares: These are classified under real estate. You may be able to negotiate terms of use, have one spouse buy the other out, or sell the property and split the proceeds.
  • Country club memberships: While subject to equitable distribution in divorce proceedings, country club memberships cannot be divided. This means that if your spouse keeps the membership, he or she will need to pay you the value of your share.
  • Antiques: Items that were handed down from other relatives or picked up in yard sales may have increased considerably in value. Be sure and have these items appraised before listing them in your inventory.
  • Collectibles: These can also increase considerably in value. Check current market values on sites such as eBay and consider what they might be worth in the future.
  • Recreational or hobby items: Your spouse may have spent considerable amounts of money investing in recreational items. Such as vehicles, hobby equipment, or craft supplies over your marriage. You are entitled to a fair share of these items.
  • Burial plots: If you made estate plans, they may have included burial plots and pre-paid funeral expenses. Check the value of these items and make the necessary changes.
  • Business assets: If your spouse owns a business, you may be entitled to a portion of the profits. Along with the value of any inventory, or reimbursement for unpaid labor and intellectual property.
  • Retirement funds: These are among the most overlooked marital assets. Be sure to include funds you may be entitled to from your spouse’s past employers, as well.


Get Professional Legal Guidance From Our Middlesex County Divorce Attorney


The Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, Esq. provides the trusted legal guidance you need when going through divorce proceedings. To discuss your options, call or contact our Milltown marital property division attorney and request a consultation today.


Divorce Assets

Creating a Parenting Plan for Your Child

Children benefit by having both of their parents play an active and engaged role in their lives. The New Jersey Courts recognize this and encourage both parties in child custody proceedings to work together to create a parenting plan. The following outlines tips for making a parenting plan that will benefit both you and your child, as well as your options in terms of what to do when common problems arise.  


Tips for Creating a Parenting Plan


The New Jersey Statutes have specific rules and guidelines in terms of child custody arrangements, which were put in place to protect your child against actions on the part of either parent that could jeopardize their health or safety. However, provided both parents show themselves to be willing and able to provide, the court is likely to encourage a parenting plan that allows both to play an active and engaged role in the child’s life.


There is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ parenting plan. It is possible to work out agreements that benefit your child while also respecting your rights both as a person and as a parent. Very Well Family offers some general tips to help you get started:


  • Put your personal feelings aside. Realize that just because of your relationship with the other person did not work out, he or she can still be a good parent to your child.
  • Do not take an adversarial stance. While you may still have gripes concerning legal issues with the other parent, do not use child custody arrangements as a way to get even.
  • Consider your child’s needs. When dividing time between two homes, consider activities your child is involved in, relationships with neighborhood friends, and other areas of your child’s life you may need to accommodate.
  • Consider logistics. Depending on where you and the other parent live and where your child goes to school, the logistics of getting from one place to another and the time involved is likely to be a factor in any plans you make.
  • Put everything in writing. While you may want to be flexible, do not assume you can make plans for certain events, such as vacation times or holiday gatherings, further down the road. Better to have everything included as part of your parenting plan and to schedule family functions or other activities accordingly.  


Common Issues With Parenting Plans


Unfortunately, just because you have a parenting plan approved through the court, it does not mean the other parent will always follow it. The New Jersey Courts advise that there are two common issues that often arise in these situations:



  • Parenting Time Interference: This occurs when one parent refuses to comply with the parenting plan or fails to consult with you about changes in the schedule. It helps to be flexible when it comes to last minute changes, delays in pick up or drop off times. However, a pattern of disregard for your schedule or the plan itself is something you need to address through the court with the help of your attorney.
  • Non-Exercise of Parenting Time: When a parent fails to show up for regular visits or routinely cancels plans, it can have a negative impact on your child. If the other parent frequently disregards his or her role and responsibility as a parent, your best course of action may be to have the parenting plan changed.


Consult With Our Middlesex County Child Custody Attorney


Consult With Our Middlesex County Child Custody Attorney. In matters impacting your child, the Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, Esq. acts as a strong legal ally on your side. Call or contact our Milltown child custody attorney online and request a consultation to discuss how we can assist you today.


Older Adults and Divorce

With advances in extending health and vitality on into later years, older adults find themselves with more options in terms of their lifestyle. While this has numerous benefits, one adverse impact seems to be an increasing divorce rate. Older couples who may have been married for decades are now considering divorce as an option in greater numbers. While a marital breakup could open the door for positive life changes, it can also pose some significant challenges.


Reasons Behind the Trend on ‘Grey’ Divorce


Divorce among older adult couples has now become more common. As a reault, there is a specific term to describe it — grey divorce. According to a February 2019 Forbes report, while the overall divorce rate in the United States has declined over the past several decades, the number of couples over the age of 50 seeking a divorce has gradually increased. Some of the more common reasons couples in this age bracket give for seeking a divorce include:


  • Financial Issues: This is a common cause of marital problems among couples of all ages, but older adults often face specific issues related to money. One of the parties may have been the primary breadwinner over the years, fostering resentment in both spouses. Often there are disagreements in attitudes about money or how it is handled. Particularly in light of rapidly approaching retirement years.
  • Growing Apart: Forbes states that one of the most common reasons for older couples getting divorced is that they simply ‘grew apart’ over the years. Lack of communication may be a problem. Or one of the spouses may want to enjoy new activities and pursuits in which the other has little interest.
  • Children Have Grown: Not wanting to put children through the upheaval of a divorce is one of the main reasons that otherwise unhappy couples remain together. Once the couple gets older and children have grown, divorce becomes a more feasible option.
  • Sexual Issues: Older adults now have the means to enjoy a more satisfying and active sex life. Marital problems can arise if there are major differences in sex drive or if one of the spouses has an affair.


Common Issues in Older Adult Divorces

The issues older couples face in divorce proceedings are often more complex. Three main areas that impact these cases include:


  • Marital Property Division: Under New Jersey divorce laws, any marital property acquired, earned, or otherwise accumulated during a marriage is to be divided on an equitable basis. For a couple who are married for decades, this involves sifting through vast amounts of personal property. Along with real estate and assets in financial accounts.
  • Alimony: Under Section 2A:34-23 of the New Jersey Statutes, a judge may older alimony in cases where it is warranted. This often occurs when one party makes significantly more than the other. Or in cases in which one of the spouses sacrificed his or her own career or education for the sake of the marriage.
  • Retirement Benefits: One of the biggest issues in a grey divorce is the impact it can have on both spouse’s retirement plans. Retirement accounts and pension benefits are subject to equitable division in divorce proceedings. However, you will need to decide how to take distributions in order to avoid tax penalties.


Reach Out To Middlesex County Divorce Attorney


Middlesex County Divorce Attorney Jordan B. Rickards, Esq., we provide the trusted legal guidance you need to protect your rights when going through a divorce. To request a confidential consultation to discuss your case, reach out and contact our Milltown divorce attorney today.

Older Adults and Divorce




Four Common Crimes That Occur Over Spring Break

Four Common Crimes That Occur Over Spring Break


Spring break offers a chance for college students to take their focus off classes, homework, and studying in order to have some fun. For adults, spring break offers the opportunity to enjoy themselves, as well, whether it involves a weekend trip to the beach or just spending a little extra time hanging out with friends. Unfortunately, the idea of letting your hair down after a long winter and enjoying warmer temperatures can lead people to make errors in judgement that put them at odds with the law. Cutting loose or overindulging over spring break can easily lead to criminal charges that involve potentially serious penalties. The following are four types of crimes that are particularly common over spring break.


Alcohol Related Charges


Overconsumption of alcohol and spring break seem to go hand and hand, which can lead to all different types of legal issues. Charges related to driving under the influence (DUI) are the most obvious concern and can have far reaching ramifications on every aspect of your life. The state of New Jersey takes a tough stance against drunk drivers and in addition to the loss of your driving privileges, even a first offense can carry heavy fines and a potential jail sentence. Even if you do not get behind the wheel, buying alcohol when you are under 21 or supplying it to a minor can result in a fine and the loss of your license.


Marijuana Possession


While many places have legalized recreational marijuana use, it is important to remember that it is still illegal in New Jersey. The state does have a medical marijuana program in place, but without a prescription from your doctor, possession of the substance carries serious penalties. Being ‘high’ or in possession of less than 1.76 ounces is a municipal offense punishable by fines up to $1,000 and up to a six-month jail sentence. Larger amounts can be charged as a fourth degree crime, with a conviction resulting in fines of up to $25,000 and up to 18 months in jail.  


Disorderly Conduct


Spring fever can have the effect of lowering your inhibitions, causing you to take actions you would not otherwise take. Unfortunately, some of these actions could result in criminal charges. Under Section 2C:33-2 of the New Jersey Statutes, you can be arrested and charged with a disorderly persons offense for using profanity in public places, causing any type of scene or spectacle, or engaging in any type of aggressive or tumultuous behavior. You can also be cited under this statute for being drunk in public or for loitering in public places. Depending on the type of activity you are engaged in, you could face fines and possible time in jail.


Criminal Mischief

Under N.J.S.A. 2C:17-3, criminal mischief involves relatively minor crimes, such as vandalism and petty theft. However, depending on the value of the property defaced or taken, it can still involve heavy penalties. When damages total between $500 and $2,000, disorderly conduct is considered a fourth degree crime, meaning fines of up to $10,000 and up to an 18 month jail sentence. For property valued at over $2,000, you face third degree criminal charges and penalties that include fines of up to $15,000 and up to five years imprisonment.


Our Milltown Criminal Defense Attorney is Here to Help


If you get arrested or charged with a crime over spring break, the Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, Esq. can provide the strong legal representation you need to avoid potentially harsh penalties. Call or contact our Milltown criminal defense attorney online to request a consultation today.



Authorities Expand Guidelines for Hate Crimes in New Jersey

Hate crimes target, threaten, or otherwise victimize a person or group of people based on the fact that they are ‘different’ from others. Previously, these types of charges involved people of different races, religions, or ethnicities. However, authorities in New Jersey have recently moved to expand the guidelines to include others who commonly fall victim to bias. The fact that your charges are classified as a hate crime means you could be facing enhanced criminal penalties. As tougher police policies go into effect, it is vitally important to have an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney on your side.


Changes in New Jersey Hate Crime Guidelines


Hate crimes and incidents involving discrimination or bias against others have seen a definite increase in the past few years. In both in New Jersey and across the country. According to an April 2019 report by, roughly 495 hate crimes were reported in our state over the course of 2017. This is nearly 100 more than were reported in the previous year. With increases steadily occurring over the last decade. In addition to the overall increase in hate crimes, the number of people and groups being targeted has increased, as well.


To combat the problem, authorities in New Jersey recently overhauled the guidelines for how police respond to, investigate, and document hate crimes. The previous guidelines have been in place since 2000.  Incidents involving people or groups of a different race, color, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity could be classified as a hate crime. Revisions made by the NJ Attorney General’s Office have added additional protected classes, which make it a hate crime to threaten or commit criminal actions against others based on the following:


  • Gender;
  • Gender identity
  • National origin;
  • Gender expression;
  • Disability.


Charges and Penalties for Hate Crimes in New Jersey


Hate crimes are generally associated with an underlying criminal charge. Such as a physical assault, theft crime, or act of vandalism. In addition to the criminal penalties you face if convicted on the original charge, the fact that it targets a person or group of people in a protected class means the penalties involved will be more severe.


Hate crime charges are generally classified as bias intimidation. Under Section 2C:16-1 of the New Jersey Statutes, a person can be found guilty for any of the following:


  • Committing or attempting to commit a crime against a person or group in a protected class;
  • Conspiring with another to commit a bias motivated crime;
  • Making threats against another that are prejudicial or discriminatory in nature;
  • Committing any type of offense against someone in a protected class that causes them to feel intimidated.


If bias intimidation stems from a disorderly persons offense, it can be charged as a crime in the fourth degree. This carries a possible fine of up to $10,000 and up to an 18-month jail sentence. In addition to other penalties, you are likely to face. If it involves more serious criminal charges, it increases the charges one degree higher. In cases involving crimes such as assault, robbery, kidnapping, or homicide, classification of the matter as a hate crime could increase your potential jail sentence by up to 30 years.


Let Our Milltown County Criminal Defense Attorney Help You


Alleged hate crimes are a serious matter in New Jersey, regardless of the underlying charges. At the Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, Esq., we provide the aggressive legal representation you need to protect yourself and your rights in these situations. To discuss your case and how we can help, contact our Milltown criminal defense attorney and request a consultation today.

Hate Crimes in New Jersey



Six Things That Can Make Criminal Penalties More Severe

Being charged with any type of crime in Middlesex County is a serious matter. Even an otherwise minor offense could result in serious penalties and having an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney on side will make a big difference. We can investigate your case, review the evidence against you, and negotiate with law enforcement officials and prosecuting attorneys to have your charges reduced or dismissed. However, it is important to be aware that some cases are likely to be tried more aggressively than others and a conviction may result in enhanced penalties. In these cases, it is of the utmost importance to begin immediately strategizing a strong legal defense.


Factors That Increase Criminal Charges and Penalties


With any type of criminal charges, the New Jersey Statutes outline the penalties involved in the event of a conviction. These generally vary based on the exact type of crime committed, the circumstances involved, and the potential harm done. The following are six scenarios in which the penalties you could be facing are likely to be more severe:


  1. Committing an alleged crime when there is a victim involved. Violent offenses are generally more serious than non-violent crimes. Even if you did not intend for anyone to get hurt, the fact that someone did get hurt escalates the situation. For example, driving under the influence (DUI) is a fairly common charge that could result in fines and loss of driving privileges. However, injuring someone else while driving drunk could result in an automatic jail sentence.
  2. Committing an alleged crime against special victims. In Middlesex County, the Special Victims Unit handles crimes against children and sexual crimes against adults. These charges come with automatically heavier sentences. Other situations in which the type of victim involved increases the penalties include domestic violence, crimes against the elderly or vulnerable individuals, and crimes against a police officer or other government official.
  3. Having a weapon in your possession. Having a gun, knife, or other weapon in your possession at the time you are stopped or arrested for a crime increases the overall penalties you could face. For example, it could increase petty theft charges to armed robbery or add weapons violations to the other charges you face.
  4. Having prior offenses. Anytime you have a prior criminal record or have committed a previous offense, it will increase your penalties. You only get so many chances to avoid a jail sentence, whether the charge involves traffic violations or more serious criminal matters such as assault, burglary, or drug charges.
  5. Crossing state lines. Once a crime crosses state lines, federal authorities will then get involved. As a result, you could find yourself facing a mandatory minimum prison sentence. This is often the case with internet crimes, drug distribution, kidnapping, robbery, and other types of charges.
  6. Resisting arrest or not appearing in court. Any time you interact with law enforcement officials, you need to follow instructions. Not doing so could result in charges of resisting arrest, which is a serious criminal offense. It can escalate something as minor as a traffic ticket to a far more serious matter. As headlines about officer-involved shootings show, it could also put your health and safety in jeopardy. Be mindful that if you receive a summons to appear in court, not doing so could result in a warrant for your arrest being issued by the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office.


Get Our Middlesex County Criminal Defense Attorney on Your Side


At the Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, Esq., we believe the best defense begins early in your case. To get our Milltown criminal defense attorney working on your behalf, contact our office and request a consultation today.


 Call ( 732) 297-8200 or Text Jordan