The vast majority of legal cases will be settled before trial. Although criminal cases are not settled in the same way as civil cases, there are ways to resolve a criminal case than having a trial. Depending on the specific criminal charges you are facing, you may have other options that do not mean you have to take a case all the way to a trial before a judge or jury. In some situations, that can be because the case has been dismissed for various reasons. In other circumstances, it may mean a plea deal with the prosecutor or another resolution, such as a program like Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) or conditional discharge. If you would like to speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer handling criminal cases throughout Essex County and nearby areas in New Jersey, contact our firm at 201-654-3464. A member of our team can provide you with a free consultation.
Ways a Criminal Case can be Resolved in NJ
Resolving your case before trial is almost always possible, but whether it is a good idea will depend on the unique facts of your case. Below are some of the ways that your disorderly persons or felony criminal case could come to a close without going to trial.
Motion to Dismiss
Your attorney can file a motion to dismiss in some cases if certain conditions are met. The motion is a formal request to the court to throw out the criminal complaint because it did not meet some requirement based on New Jersey law. Every case is different, but this type of motion is often used because there is a mistake or error in the complaint, your rights were violated, or a legal procedure that should have been followed was not. Motions to dismiss are not easy to win, but can be successful when handled by an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Motion to Suppress
There are very specific rules that must be followed in criminal cases. The rules are complicated and stringent—in large part because an arrest or search affects some of your most basic rights as a citizen or resident of New Jersey and the United States.
When your rights are violated, and that violation leads the police to find additional evidence, that information can sometimes be thrown out of court. This rule forces police to get evidence in a way that does not violate your rights. If information was not obtained properly, it can be “suppressed” or excluded from presentation to the jury. These motions can be very important because they sometimes take away the most critical evidence that the state would need to prove their case, making a conviction impossible. Our lawyers know what to look for in the discovery (evidence) in your case and can successfully argue this motion in court, as we have a long track record of wins for clients with motions to suppress evidence.
For certain types of charges, you may be able to avoid trial and jail time by using a diversionary program. A diversionary program allows a defendant to go through a period of probation, often with certain requirements that must be met, instead of having a conviction and jail time. Many charges are dismissed after completion of the diversion program. All diversionary programs in New Jersey require that you have no previous criminal history, and they are not available for all types of charges. However,the Pre-Trial Intervention, Conditional Discharge, and Conditional Dismissal programs are often a great option for people with no prior prior who are facing charges for drug offenses like marijuana possession, possession of cocaine, prescription drug charges, shoplifting and other eligible offenses.
Another common reason that a case does not go to trial is that the defendant and the State have struck a plea agreement. This type of agreement often involves admitting guilt, sometimes to a lesser charge than was initially asserted, in exchange for less jail time or fewer additional consequences. Plea agreements can be very helpful for some cases, but they could also make absolutely no sense for other cases. For example, if you can win your case by taking it to trial or otherwise have the charges dismissed, there is every reason to avoid pleading guilty and having a conviction of some kind on your criminal record. Our criminal attorneys will be able to help you decide when making a plea deal is the best option for you based on your unique circumstances.
Get Help Resolving Your Criminal Case in Essex County
If you have been charged with a crime in Essex County, we can walk you through all of your potential options to avoid trial, and more. With local offices in Newark, we represent clients in municipal courts in Montclair, Bloomfield, Verona, Little Falls, Newark, West Orange, and Essex County Superior Court on a regular basis. Call 201-654-3464 today to learn more about how we can help.