Legal F.A.Q.

Welcome to our Legal FAQ page. Here, you’ll find clear, concise answers to the most commonly asked questions about criminal defense, DUI, theft, and other legal matters. Whether you’re seeking guidance on navigating the legal system or need detailed information about specific legal scenarios, our FAQs are designed to provide you with knowledgeable insights to inform your decisions. Browse through our categories to find the answers you need or contact us for more personalized advice.

What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?

Felonies, commonly referred to in New Jersey as indictable offenses, are more serious than misdemeanors, commonly referred to in New Jersey as disorderly persons offenses and petty disorderly persons offenses. Consequently, as you would expect, the punishments for committing an indictable offense are more severe than those for committing a disorderly person offense.

What is the most severe penalty for committing a disorderly persons offense or a petty disorderly persons offense?

The most serious penalty a court can impose on someone convicted of committing a disorderly persons offense is 6 months in the county jail. For a petty disorderly persons offense, the maximum penalty is 30 days in the county jail.

What are some common disorderly persons offenses and petty disorderly persons offenses?

Some common disorderly persons offenses are simple assault [N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1a], theft of something with a value of less than $200 [N.J.S.A. 2C:20-2a], obstruction [N.J.S.A. 2C:29-1], and resisting arrest [N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2]
Some common petty disorderly persons offenses are disorderly conduct [N.J.S.A. 2C:33-2], possession of drug paraphernalia [N.J.S.A. 2C:36-2], and harassment [N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4].

What is an indictment?

When you are charged with a crime in New Jersey, your case is presented to a grand jury. A grand jury is a group of ordinary citizens who hear cases presented to them by the Prosecutor. The grand jury is different from a petit jury or trial jury which consists of 12 people who ultimately decide whether a defendant is guilty or not guilty. A grand jury is composed of 23 people who decide whether there is at least some evidence that a crime was committed, and that the charged defendant is the one who committed it. This legal standard is much lower than the one needed for conviction. It is called probable cause. If at least 12 people on the grand jury, a simple majority, decide that there is probable cause that the defendant committed the charged crime or crimes, they will issue an indictment. If fewer than 12 people vote to indict, the grand jury will issue a no bill. Because of the low legal standard of probable cause, the vast majority of cases are indicted.

If I am indicted, does it mean I am likely to be convicted?

Not at all. An indictment is merely a procedural step in the criminal justice process. As mentioned above, because of the low standard of probable cause required for an indictment, most criminal charges will result in an indictment.

What is Pretrial Intervention?

The Pretrial Intervention Program or “PTI” for short is a diversionary program in which individuals charged with crimes who have either no prior criminal record or a very modest one can avoid a criminal conviction by serving what is essentially a term of probation and complying with what is required of them. Some common requirements of PTI include avoiding the use of illegal substances, remaining gainfully employed, submitting to regular drug tests, participating in any required therapy or counseling, reporting to a probation officer, and remaining offense-free. At the conclusion of the PTI term, usually 12 to 18 months, if the defendant has complied with the PTI requirements, his or her charges will be dismissed. Participants in the PTI Program who are doing well for an extended period can also apply to the Court for early termination.

I know from TV that I have the right to remain silent, but if I don’t think I did anything wrong, aren’t I better off trying to explain to the police what happened?

The answer to this question is a hard no. Many people believe that by speaking with the police, they can “straighten things out,” and that by refusing to speak, they will be arousing suspicion. They could not be more wrong. Unless you are solely a witness, which will be difficult to determine, if the police have asked to talk to you, you have probably already aroused their suspicion. They may already have enough evidence to charge you with a crime or they may not. But make no mistake, they want to talk to you to gather more evidence. Trying to explain things to the police risks providing them with incriminating information that may contribute to the probable cause they need to charge you with a crime. If you believe you are under investigation by the police, even though you have not yet been charged with anything, the best thing you can do is to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Glenn D. Kassman, Esq. has been retained by dozens of clients before they were ever charged with crimes.