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Ocean County Criminal Law Blog

New jersey's marijuana laws: changes on the horizon

With a long line of states already having legalized marijuana on some level, New Jersey may not be far behind. While medical marijuana assists countless patients in need, these changes in laws could also mean positive news for those worried about facing drug charges. Recent news indicates that modifications to state laws may be taking place even sooner than expected. 

According to an NJ.com news post from last month, Governor Phil Murphy stands behind not only the legislation legalizing the drug, but the taxation of recreational marijuana. The governor's proposal included $60 million in tax revenue from legalized weed. Although the popular voice among other lawmakers reflects doubts over these changes, Murphy nevertheless claims it should benefit tax revenue and slow down spiking incarceration rates. The article later shares that Murphy may have planned to seek a constitutional amendment, in which he would inquire about legal marijuana to voters. Meanwhile, other lawmakers have taken smaller steps, considering to decriminalize marijuana in New Jersey.

What is vehicular homicide?

If New Jersey charges you with committing vehicular homicide, you face serious charges indeed. As FindLaw explains, if convicted of this death by auto crime, you could face up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $200,000 and possibly a lifetime suspension of your driver’s license.

To convict you of vehicular homicide, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you drove recklessly or that you consciously disregarded the substantial and unjustifiable risk that your actions could result in someone’s death. In other words, your actions grossly deviated from the way in which a reasonable person would act while driving.

Important information about breath analysis tests

New Jersey residents likely know that they could face hefty penalties if charged and convicted of driving while under the influence. Many people think that blowing an 0.08 or higher on a breath analysis device is impossible to fight against, and that conviction is inevitable. However, that isn't necessarily the case.

The Legal Dictionary defines a breath analysis test as one of the devices most frequently used to determine how high a person's blood alcohol content (BAC) level is. However, recent studies have begun to argue that this method of testing is not accurate enough. In fact, it was reported that there's up to a 15 percent margin of error in a breath analysis test. This means that a person's BAC level could be fairly different from what's shown on the device.

What are the differences between robbery, burglary and theft?

If you are a New Jersey resident charged with allegedly committing one or more stealing crimes, you may be unclear about the differences between robbery, burglary and theft. As FindLaw explains, all three of these crimes relate to each other, but they are distinctly different

If the charge against you is committing theft, sometimes called larceny, the prosecutor will attempt to prove that you unlawfully took someone else's personal property without his or her permission and with the intent of permanently depriving him or her of it.

Consequences of driving while high in New Jersey

New Jersey residents may know that cannabis laws in the Garden State are among the highest in the nation. That being said, many of those who enjoy marijuana continue to drive after smoking or having pot-laced edibles. It is important to understand the potential penalties of driving with marijuana in one’s system, as well as how THC – the chemical in marijuana that causes a high – affects driving.

According to NORML, being under the influence of cannabis – whether driving or not – is a misdemeanor in New Jersey. The following penalties may apply:

  • Imprisonment of up to six months and a fine of up to $2,000
  • Community service
  • Loss of driver’s license for a minimum of six months
  • Automatic driver’s license suspension for two years if driving under the influence of marijuana
  • Public housing residency revocation

What will happen at my preliminary hearing?

If you were indicted for allegedly committing a serious crime in New Jersey, you likely will have a preliminary hearing after entering your not guilty plea and before proceeding to trial. In fact, as FindLaw explains, the whole purpose of a preliminary hearing is to determine whether or not the state has sufficient evidence to try you.

Not every New Jersey criminal defendant gets a preliminary hearing. Only those cases filed in the New Jersey Superior Court include one as part of their standard procedures. These cases involve such serious crimes as the following:

  • Murder, manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter
  • Firearms and weapons crimes
  • Domestic violence including sexual assault
  • Arson
  • Robbery and burglary
  • Drug trafficking

Can a legal medication result in a DUI?

You may have never driven a day in your life with alcohol in your system, but this does not mean you are immune to being charged with a DUI, especially if you take certain medications. It is important that you and other New Jersey residents understand that some prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs can dangerously affect your driving and may result in DUI charges if you are pulled over.

“Do not operate a motor vehicle after taking this medication.” That warning is on your bottle of prescription painkillers for a reason. Narcotic pain medication commonly causes dizziness, drowsiness and confusion – a possibly deadly combination when you get behind the wheel. Other common medicines, including cold medicine, antihistamines, antidepressants and sleeping pills, can cause similar side effects, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Some medications can cause even more dangerous reactions while driving, including blurry vision, difficulty focusing, jitteriness, seizures or fainting.

Are assault and battery the same thing?

You may think assault and battery mean the same thing if you have been charged with both of them in New Jersey. However, as FindLaw explains, assault and battery are separate crimes even though they are closely related, and an assault often leads to a battery.

To convict you of either crime, the prosecutor must prove that you committed a specific act and that you intended to commit it. But both the intent and the act are different for each crime.

A brief overview of gun laws in NJ

Like many people across the United States, there are New Jersey residents who value their right to bear arms, whether for home defense, hunting or as a hobby. However, owning a gun in the Garden State involves more than deciding on a whim to make a purchase from just anyone. Those who do not take the proper steps to register and purchase firearms may face criminal charges.

It is important for those who are considering purchasing a gun to first determine if they are eligible to own a firearm. FindLaw cautions that those with prior felony convictions – usually violent, theft-related or drug-related in nature – are prohibited from owning guns in New Jersey. Additionally, those under the age of 18 may not legally own guns. The type of firearm also comes into question. Sawed-off shotguns, stun guns, armor penetrating bullets and silencers are prohibited, as well as assault firearms and machine guns without the proper licenses.

Understanding the consequences of shoplifting

Shoplifting is one of the most common crimes that people may not think is a big deal. However, there are serious consequences to stealing from a store or shop that you or your children might not consider. Our team at the Law Offices of Michael T. Nolan, Jr., can answer the questions New Jersey residents may have regarding the penalties that can arise from a shoplifting conviction.

As FindLaw explains, the penalties for shoplifting in New Jersey are dealt with particularly harshly. If your child is arrested for taking items from a store, he or she will most likely be required to pay a fine and could be ordered to perform community service. Depending on the value of the stolen items, how many times your child has been charged with shoplifting and whether your child is over the age of 18, he or she may be given a sentence ranging from a few days in jail to up to 10 years in prison. Additionally, store owners in New Jersey may demand you repay their monetary losses from the theft, including their court costs.

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