Frequently Asked Questions About Criminal Defense in New Jersey
The Anthony Pope Law Firm capably represents defendants against a wide range of state and federal criminal charges. With more than 30 years of experience trying high-profile cases, our firm has the skill and experience to deliver your best possible defense. Our firm offers these FAQs for prospective clients.
If you have additional questions to ask a criminal defense attorney, or are wondering what to look for in a criminal defense attorney, check the other pages on our site. You'll find information about the criminal law process in New Jersey, what to do after an arrest, the difference between state and federal charges and how a former prosecutor can help your defense case.
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The Anthony Pope Law Firm defends the rights of accused persons. If you’re facing criminal charges, call us at 973.536.2346 or contact us online to schedule a consultation and case evaluation.
- What are Miranda warnings?
- When is a “stop and frisk” an illegal search?
- A police officer shone his flashlight into the back seat of my car and looked it over. Can he do that without a warrant?
- How long can the police keep a person in jail without charges?
The name Miranda comes from a U.S. Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona, which established the rule that police officers have to inform suspects of their constitutional rights upon arrest. These rights, based on the Fifth Amendment right to be free from self-incrimination and the Sixth Amendment right to legal counsel, include:
- The right to remain silent
- The right to an attorney, even if you cannot afford one
There are two points at which this police action can become illegal: the stop and the frisk. For police to stop a person, they must have reasonable suspicion of involvement in criminal activity. Reasonable suspicion is not enough to make an arrest, but it is enough to detain the suspect briefly in an attempt to gather further information. Reasonable suspicion is not enough to justify a search of the suspect, but it is enough to justify a pat-down to determine whether the suspect is armed and poses a danger to the officer. The “stop and frisk” may be illegal if:
- The totality of the circumstances would not lead a reasonable person to believe that the suspect was involved in any criminal activity
- The stop was made purely on the basis of a person’s ethnicity (racial profiling)
- Officers ordered the detained person to empty his pockets
- Officers reached into the detained person’s pockets before patting him down or after a pat-down did not disclose a weapon
An officer does not make an illegal search when he spots something in “plain view,” as long as he hasn’t acted improperly to obtain that view. If the officer stuck his head inside the car or demanded that you roll down a window, that action might be improper. But as long as the officer doesn’t reach inside the car or physically touch anything inside, his “search” with the flashlight falls under the “plain view” exception.
In cases of suspected terrorism, the Patriot Act gives law enforcement broad discretion to detain a suspect without formal charges, but generally speaking, the right of habeas corpus means that a suspect must be charged or released. Police may detain a suspect for a reasonable time on reasonable suspicion while they investigate to determine if there is probable cause for an arrest. Once the authorities determine there is probable cause, they file a complaint with the court and formally make the arrest. Though New Jersey law requires a bail hearing within 12 hours of the complaint being filed, the whole process can take from 24 to 72 hours. Often, a suspect will claim he was unlawfully detained, while law enforcement will insist he was free to go at any time but was cooperating with the investigation. If you find yourself being detained for a prolonged period, you should demand to speak with an attorney.