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Ocean County Criminal Law Blog

Attorney General says prosecute pot users

New Jersey is one of 29 states, plus Washington, D.C., to have legalized marijuana in some form. Some states, such as California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine, have legalized, or at least decriminalized, the recreational use of marijuana. Washington, D.C., has done likewise. All of these states regulate and tax the production and sale of marijuana, bringing substantial revenues into state coffers.

Last week, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a memo to all federal prosecutors rescinding the Obama policy of not prosecuting marijuana growers, retailers and users in states that have legalized marijuana usage. Given that New Jersey already has a medical marijuana law in place and may become the next state to legalize its recreational use, residents of this state who enjoy smoking an occasional joint may find themselves at risk for facing drug possession charges.

Understanding misdemeanor classification in New Jersey

It is usually difficult, at least at first, for an individual accustomed to the legal language of other states, or to a more generalized popular terminology, to understand the definitions and gradations of crimes in New Jersey. This is due in part to the fact that the state uses an indictable and non-indictable classification rather than a misdemeanor and felony system. Here are some of the special challenges that face an individual accused of a non-indictable offense in the Garden State, such as theft under $200, assault, shoplifting or a traffic violation.

New Jersey makes an important distinction between the two types of offenses, namely that only indictable offenses are considered crimes. The Office of the Monmouth County Prosecutor lists some examples of indictable crimes, including:

  • Homicide
  • Aggravated violent crimes
  • Severe sexual crimes

Understanding plea bargains

Entering into a plea bargain can be a very useful and practical strategy for a New Jersey resident charged with committing a crime. Before doing so, however, the defendant should know exactly what he or she is agreeing to and exactly what the consequences of that agreement will be.

As defined by the American Bar Association, a plea bargain is a negotiation between the defendant and the prosecutor whereby they arrive at an agreement regarding certain things. Plea bargains often are initiated by the defendant’s attorney when seeking special considerations for his or her client.

New Jersey's age of consent laws

If you are like most people in New Jersey, you have become aware of the many media stories across the nation that report on alleged sexual abuse or contact between adults and minors. This might include teachers being found in bed with students for example. In some cases, criminal charges are levied against the adult in the matter. Every state has its own laws when it comes to statutory rape or other offenses like endangering the welfare of a child or child lewdness. The age of the youngest person involved often is a factor in determining what if any charges are faced.

According to Age of Consent, a person who is at least 16 years old is legally able to agree to participate in sexual activity with another person in New Jersey in most cases. However, if someone who is 16 or 17 years old has some form of sexual contact or relations with a tutor, a coach, a counselor, a guardian or some other person who logically has some type of power or authority over the teenager, then the age of consent jumps to 18.

Four allegedly smoking pot at country club

While many states around the country have legalized the use of marijuana for recreational purposes, New Jersey is not one of them. Even if this law does ever change, it may well be that persons under the age of 21 would not be allowed to use the drug just like with alcohol. This is the standard for other states that have legalized pot recreationally. In the meantime, no person is allowed to smoke or otherwise consume marijuna in the state for enjoyment.

Reports indicate that four people were found to be potentially smoking marijuana at a country club late on a weekday evening. After being approached by officers and questioned, one of the four people was actually arrested and taken into custody but the other three were not charged with any crime. It is not know what made this difference and why only one person is facing criminal charges.

Are Breathalyzers always accurate?

If a law enforcement official stops you in New Jersey and believes you have been drinking, you can expect that he or she will probably request that you take a breath test in an attempt to get a better idea of your level of intoxication. Conducted using devices called Breathalyzers, breath tests almost always come into account when you face a drinking and driving charge, but are they always accurate? Not entirely.

According to, Breathalyzers require regular calibration and maintenance in order to work properly and emit accurate results. While a Breathalyzer that is not properly calibrated may lead to falsely elevated results, other outside factors, too, can do the same. For example, if you have blood or vomit in your mouth when you blow into the Breathalyzer, this can breed inaccurate readings, which can lead you to receive a drinking and driving charge even if your blood-alcohol content falls below the legal limit.

Avoid drunk driving charges while in college

Attending college is an exciting time for students in New Jersey and elsewhere. Whether this is your first or last year in a university, you might have become accustomed to a big part of college life – drinking. At the Law Offices of Michael T. Nolan, Jr., we know how important it is to strike a good balance between enjoying your college years and staying out of trouble.

A DUI charge is one of the most common consequences you could get for participating in alcohol-related activities in college. The penalties can also vary in severity, based on whether you are underage, have had previous drunk driving convictions or were involved in an alcohol-related crash that resulted in an injury or fatality. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 60 percent of students in college between the ages of 18 and 22 admitted to drinking at least once during the past month. Many are involved in drunk driving accidents, with about 1,825 college students each year losing their lives due to alcohol-related injuries, including crashes.

Woman accused of murder in stabbing death

News reports of alleged crimes in New Jersey in which people are injured or killed can sometimes make it hard for the public to get a full view of what may have happened. Many times there are minimal details provided. Those details not included in reports may well change a person's opinion on the guilt or innocence of a defendant.

Such is the case in a story that was recently reported in which a man was admitted to RWJBarnabas Health's Jersey City Medical Center after he was allegedly attacked by a woman. Little here is known other than the pair was witnessed on building security cameras to have entered a location together one evening. Roughly one hour later, the cameras show the woman fleeing the building as she was being chased by the man.

What types of things might lead to abuse charges?

If you or someone you know has been accused of domestic violence in New Jersey, you might at first be surprised especially if there was no physical contact, violence or harm involved. Your surprise is not unusual and it is important to learn that there are multiple forms of domestic abuse.

As explained by the United States Department of Justice, you might find yourself facing allegations of domestic abuse for allegedly exerting financial control over your spouse or partner. This might involve somehow preventing them from working or attending school. Similarly, any action which might indicate you attempted to keep your partner from seeing their friends or families and remain may contribute to allegations of psychological abuse.

Understanding New Jersey’s domestic violence laws

Domestic violence in New Jersey is defined as physical, sexual, economic or emotional abuse, actual or threatened, of someone by a person with whom they are having an intimate relationship or have had such a relationship in the past. As FindLaw explains, New Jersey has a Prevention of Domestic Violence Act that is set forth in Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes, Section 25-19.

The PDVA prohibits 14 separate criminal offenses, including the following:

  • Sexual assault
  • Criminal sexual contact
  • Criminal restraint
  • False imprisonment
  • Harassment
  • Stalking
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