You take one last glance around the department store to make sure no one is watching as you carefully tuck a couple of newly released CDs along the trim of your pants, lifting your shirt over them for concealment. Looking as casual as possible, you stroll through an unattended checkout line and out of the door, heart racing fast while remaining collected. A pang of excitement surges through your chest, knowing you’ve just succeeded in acquiring three collectible albums at no cost. YANK – your thoughts of victory are quickly thwarted by a strange pull at the back of your shirt, causing you to turn around and face the store’s head security guard, who had been watching you all along.
To your dismay, you’ve been caught. Now what? You’ve made a mistake and you have to face the consequences. Shoplifting is against the law and shouldn’t be taken lightly. In the last five years, more than ten million people have been caught shoplifting, according to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention. Many of these individual wind up facing penalties that can have a negative effect on one’s life. Depending on the severity of the shoplifting crime, the defendant is faced with hefty fines and possible jail time.
The shoplifting charge also shows up on public record, which could make it difficult to get hired. Rather than let the charges alter the plan you have for your life, hire an experienced lawyer who will fight for your rights. I, Charles Block, a criminal defense lawyer serving the Gloucester County, NJ area and the surrounding region, can help turn your situation around. I am well-versed in criminal law and have helped many of my clients get their shoplifting charges reduced or dropped.
If you get caught shoplifting, I advise you to invoke your right to counsel. Know that anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law, so it’s crucial that you reject the urge to offer an innocent explanation, which could wind up leading to an admission of guilt. You should also make sure that you appear in court for your offense to avoid being found guilty by default or getting an arrest warrant.
As your lawyer, I will guide you every step of the way during the legal process and assess all of the facts to ensure your rights are protected. I will make sure that your shoplifting charge achieves the best possible outcome so that you can put the charge behind you for good. Call me today for a free consultation. I also provide legal assistance as a traffic attorney near Gloucester County, NJ, as well.
The 2014 holiday season is here. Over the next month, people will be out shopping more than usual, decorating their homes as well as attending various holiday parties. While the holidays are usually a time of happiness, there are many people that take advantage of the situation and the law during this time of year. Therefore, what follows is a list of some of the top crimes committed during the holiday season.
Getting Your Identity Stolen
Even though this can happen at any time of the year, the risk for this happening around the holidays is heightened with more and more people using their credit cards in store and online. In fact, back in 2013, millions of people who shopped at Target had their credit and debit card numbers stolen. Not only was this a massive headache for Target, but the millions of people who shopped there were on high alert because of the fact that their identities might have been stolen, or they would have received miscellaneous charges to their card. In the end, those who had shopped at Target during the security breach had their cards replaced and most monitored their accounts daily to ensure that they were not receiving any bogus charges. Therefore, what are ways to prevent your identity being stolen? Monitor your statements, and also pay attention to the news. Even though banks are monitoring their clients’ accounts, they don’t catch everything so the key is to pay attention.
Stealing & Shoplifting
Not everyone has enough money to purchase the types of gifts they want. So, what is one avenue they pursue? Shoplifting. Unfortunately, stealing merchandise is a lot easier to do during the holidays because of all the crowds as well as employees being more distracted than usual. Although most employees are “trained” to single out a shoplifter, most cannot keep up and the company is forced to accept the loss.
DUI’s & DWI’s
While the holiday season is a time of celebrating, most people take it too far. Unfortunately, drunk driving during this time of year is high. Also, since the mid-2000s, the amount of accidents related to drug or alcohol has increased ever year.
It is a sad fact that there is such a high amount of crime committed during the holidays. Those who need an attorney that is able to handle criminal law, DUI/DWI cases and more, feel free to contact Charles Block for a consultation regarding your case.
If you’ve been arrested for a DUI, you may not remember the events that lead to your arrest. But chances are you are very clear about the events that followed. The worst time to learn about the significance of a DUI is when it’s happening. While experience is a great teacher, it may be helpful to know more about the legal process ahead of time.
Here’s what to expect in the state of New Jersey.
The arraignment is the primal step of the criminal procedure. It takes place in a courtroom. The purpose of the arraignment is to inform you of the charges you face. This is the time to enter a plea with the judge – usually “guilty” or “not guilty.” There are other pleas, and it gets complicated, which is why at this point you are assigned a lawyer if you can’t afford one.
The Pre-trial Conference: continuance, plea bargain, suppression hearing, trial
Before the pre-trial conference, your lawyer should have received all evidence against you from the prosecutor’s office. Sometimes there’s a delay in receiving the documentation. When there’s a delay, your lawyer will ask for a “continuance.” A continuance is granted if more time is needed to gather evidence.
If all the evidence has been received and reviewed by the date of the pre-trial conference, your lawyer and the prosecutor will discuss the merits of the case. Each nitpicks flaws in each other’s facts regarding the case and they will argue about what should happen. Sometimes there’ll be a reduction in the charges. Sometimes there’ll be a dismissal. Sometimes there’ll be a compromise. When compromise isn’t possible, the case moves forward.
A suppression hearing occurs if your lawyer believes your constitutional rights were violated. This is the stage where your lawyer can move to quash evidence against you. Many cases will be resolved at this point.
If your lawyer and the prosecutor have not agreed to a plea bargain, and your case wasn’t dismissed at a suppression hearing, a trial date will be set. At the trail – which takes place in Municipal Court – a judge will examine evidence and hear testimony. The judge will decided your innocence or guilt as there are no trial juries in the state of New Jersey.
If found guilty at the trial, you will receive a punishment, also known as a sentence. Receiving a sentence doesn’t always mean jail time. In some cases, you might receive a fine or community service. The possible sentences are fixed within the law of the offense.
Are you facing a DUI?
If you need a DUI lawyer in New Jersey, contact Charles Block.
As a traffic law attorney of New Jersey, one thing I’ve come to understand to be true is that car accidents can happen to anyone at any given time. If you’ve been driving for a while, chances are, you’ve either been involved in an automobile accident or have witnessed one occur first-hand. In many cases, drivers do not even realize they have been involved in an accident and drive off without realizing they have caused an accident. However, if you leave the scene of an accident, you could face serious charges in the state of New Jersey.
There are absolutely penalties for leaving the scene of an accident. If you leave the scene of an accident you could face either traffic ticket charges or in worst case scenarios, criminal charges. Penalties can depend on:
- Whether or not there was damage to the vehicle
- Whether or not someone was injured as a result of the accident
- Whether or not someone was killed as a result of the accident
First Offense Penalties Include:
- Fine from $200 to $400
- Spend up to 30 days in jail
- Six-month license suspension
- 2 motor vehicle points added to license
Second Offense Penalties Include:
- Fine from $400 to $600
- From 30 to 90 days spent in jail
- 1 year licenses suspension
- 2 motor vehicle points added to license
Injury or Death:
- From $2,500 to $5,000 fine
- 180 days spent in county jail
- 1 year license suspension for a first offense
- Permanent license forfeiture for a 2nd offense
- 8 motor vehicle points added to license
As an experienced traffic defense lawyer, I, Charles Block can craft an effective defense to ensure you avoid severe penalties if you leave the scene of the accident. But, to avoid this scenario altogether, always pull over to the side of the road if involved in an accident and wait for assistance.
As a criminal attorney of Haddonfield, I get asked this question a lot. Some of the most expensive things people target are cars, digital devices like cell phones and cash. But, no personal possession is safe! In fact, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), one of the most commonly stolen items is Nutella. This is because it is relatively expensive and high in demand, two of the largest factors in why items are stolen.
But there are many weirder things that people shoplift. According to NRF, here are the 10 weirdest things shoplifted:
Tide, which is an easily recognizable brand of laundry detergent is traded for drugs and other illicit items. This item is difficult to track because of the lack of serial numbers on the packaging.
According to a 2013 crime survey conducted by the NRF, allergy medicine has become a popular item to steal. Allergy medication is typically stolen for recreational use, or re-sold on the streets.
Young shoplifters choose to steal pregnancy tests to avoid embarrassment of purchasing them in public. But more importantly, they are targeted by groups of thieves for their resale value. They can be sold on the black market for near-retail prices.
These are stolen for their value at scrap yards. The price of such metals as platinum, rhodium and palladium found in a catalytic converter has risen in recent years, which can explain why they are one of the most shoplifted items.
At first, you may not consider this item to be a hot commodity, but with the increase in metal prices, manhole covers are stolen frequently. Thieves will go as far as dressing as construction workers when stealing the covers.
Certainly the tastiest item on the list, Nutella is reported as being stolen in areas throughout the world.
It is a labor-intensive process to produce maple syrup. 40 gallons of sap is required to produce a single gallon of syrup, which is why thieves go to great lengths to steal million dollars’ worth of sap.
Make sure you keep an eye on those porch plants you have in front of your house. In the past year, there have been a number of shrubbery theft cases, with thieves leaving damage to lawns. Plant value can reach extreme highs when traded on the black market.
IT is common for thieves to break into the backyards of homes located on the Ocean in order to steal their boats. Along with small boats, jet skis are also a commonly stolen item.
Due to the increase in demand for beef overseas, the value for steak has risen greatly. In 2013, it was reported that more than 10,000 cows and horses were stolen. It is clear that steak is no exception for shoplifters.
To learn more about shoplifting, contact the Law Office of Charles Block today.
When a minor is caught in the act of vandalism, it can be brushed under the rug as “kids being kids,” but consequences can be severe. If your child has been charged with vandalism, they can be charged with a felony or misdemeanor. Of course, this depends on how much damage was caused. But, before we move on, what exactly is considered vandalism?
I’m glad you asked. This can be defacing a property—car, house, school, building, or public space—destroying the property of a library, either books or videos, egging or throwing stones at building or houses, destroying gravestones, publicly displaying art like graffiti that is defacing to the property, or even smashing mailboxes on a joy ride.
Teenagers are known for taking part in activities without weighing the pros and cons of the situation. Keying a car is the perfect example of vandalism done by today’s youth that occurs without thinking of possible repercussions. Even an act as simple as creating and displaying art in public places—graffiti—can result in a vandalism charge. Often times, a juvenile will lash out in an act of defiance against a school, property, or building, defacing it and putting their future in limbo.
Not only will those charged with vandalism have to pay for the damages they caused, if not more, but they are expected to appear in court as well. This is where the protection aspect comes in and the wheels are set in motion to ensure your future is still intact without having to check the “criminal record” box, providing a brief explanation on college and job applications. In these tough economic times, the job availability is scarce and with the competition, employers will skip right over the resume with a criminal record.
If properly represented in New Jersey, your child can be issued a Pretrial Intervention Program. This will allow a minor’s record to be wiped clean of the vandalism offense after their probation is served. This can be obtained for first time offenders much easier than it could be for a repeat offender.
We can help you or your child with a vandalism case, guiding you through the legal process and protecting your future.
Drunk driving is a major problem that law enforcement is striving to prevent and control. An alcohol-related car accident and drunk-driving conviction can have many negative consequences in your life, including jail or prison time, a criminal record, car repair or replacement, restitution, guilt and grief over harm to others, higher insurance premiums, a civil lawsuit, fines, court and administrative fees, community service, alcohol education, substance-abuse treatment, social stigma, and restrictions on or revocation of your driver’s license.
The causes and effects of drinking and driving are staggering. Poor coordination, disorientation, blackouts, slurred speech, poor self-esteem and double vision are just the short-term effects of alcohol abuse. The long-term effects of alcohol consumption can include heart disease, peptic ulcers and cirrhosis a debilitating liver disease called.
Studies have shown it only takes three to four, 12-ounce beers for a 170 pound male to become intoxicated, and one to three of those same beers for an average sized woman to become intoxicated.
After the nightmare of a drunk-driving trial, conviction and sentence, your driving privileges may still be intact or may be restored. However, the question of automobile insurance becomes more complex and expensive. Exactly what your insurance company legally can do varies from state to state and depends on the insurance law of your state.
Your insurance company may cancel or decline to renew your policy, restrict coverage provisions or increase your premiums based on your drunk driving record. Overall your premiums could go up as much as 100 percent or more.
How your insurer reacts to your drunk driving may be worse if you have other strikes against you, including previous drunk-driving convictions, traffic tickets, at-fault accidents, late or unpaid insurance premiums or other negative history with the insurer. Other significant issues your record may impact is coverage by other types of insurance policies, such as life or medical insurance.
Certain criminal convictions are eligible for an expungement in New Jersey. In addition to determining the crimes which are eligible, it is equally important to determine the length of the waiting period from the date of your conviction to the date upon which you are eligible to file a petition for expungement You should have your criminal record expunged because background checks are now the norm. Many employers and educational institutions place a stigma on any person who has been arrested or convicted of a crime. It can also affect your employment opportunities, professional licensing boards and college applications. An expungement of your New Jersey record will prevent an employer from accessing your criminal record and allow you to lawfully answer “no” on an employment application.
Crimes which are Eligible for Expungement
In order to have your record cleared, you must first look at whether or not you are eligible to have the criminal conviction expunged.
Convictions for the following crimes are not eligible for expungement in New Jersey:
.Criminal Homicide (exception Vehicular Homicide)
.Luring or Enticing
.Aggravated Sexual Assault
.Criminal Sexual Contact if the victim is a minor
.Endangering the Welfare of a Child (if based on sexual contact or child pornography)
.Distribution of Controlled Dangerous Substance or Possession of Controlled Dangerous Substances with Intent to Distribute
.Motor vehicle violations, DWI or DUI.
Waiting Period for Expungements
The following information is general eligibility requirements for an expungement and the waiting periods for filing a petition for expungement in New Jersey.
TYPE OF CONVICTION AND TIME ELAPSED SINCE CONVICTION
Indictable two or more convictions – 10 years waiting period from completion of sentence
Disorderly Persons (up to 3 disorderly) – 5 years waiting period from completion of sentence
Petty Disorderly Persons – 5 years waiting period from completion of sentence
Municipal Ordinances – 2 years waiting period from completion of sentence
Juvenile Delinquency – 5 years waiting period from completion of supervision
Possession of CDS <21 years of age – 1 year period from completion of sentence
Arrests not resulting in Convictions – Immediately
Conditional Discharges/Pretrial Invention – 6 months
Length of Time Before Expungement is Complete
The expungement motion should be scheduled for 30 to 60 days from the filing of the expungement petition. Keep in mind that each county is slightly different as far as the time it takes to get your case listed on the expungement calendar.
Information Needed to Get Started
In order for an attorney to file your New Jersey expungement petition, specific information about the offense must be obtained. Such as summons or complaint number, arresting agency, criminal charge and corresponding statutory number, arrest date, and disposition. Without this information, the expungement cannot be appropriately filed or granted.
Reckless driving is defined as a moving violation in which a driver displays a disregard for the rules of the road. In essence, reckless drivers put themselves and others at risk, and they often involve more than one traffic violation. Reckless driving offenders are punished by fines, jail time, and/or driver’s license suspension or revocation.
Disregard for the safety of people or property is a common element in reckless driving car accidents. Reckless driving acts include, but are not limited to, the following situations:
.Causing an automobile accident
.Running red lights
.Running stop signs
.Drinking and driving
.Driving under the influence of drugs
.Driving without headlights
High Rate of Speeding
While speeding alone isn’t usually considered reckless driving, an extremely high rate of speed might lead an officer to charge someone with reckless driving.
Alcohol and Drugs Also Lead to Reckless Driving
Everyone that gets behind the wheel knowing that they are drunk or impaired are by definition reckless drivers. According to the courts, reckless driving and DUI offenses are separate crimes, and drivers may sometimes be charged with both crimes.
Most car accidents can be prevented by following these simple tips:
.Always wear a seatbelt
.Avoid distractions caused by passengers, cell phones, food, or loud music
.Obey all traffic signs
.And try not to drive when tired.
Not every automobile accident can be prevented, but you can control whether or not you cause a serious car crash.
The penalties for Reckless Driving in New Jersey are as follows:
.Jail of up to 2 Months (3 months for a 2nd offense)
.Fines of 50-$200. (Up to $500 for a Second Offense)
.5 Points on your Driving Record
The penalties for Careless Driving are:
.2 Points on your Driving Record
Our schools, a place of safety, learning, and growth, are being challenged daily by violent acts, including: homicide, assaults, child sexual abuse, and violence affecting teachers, parents, children, and the whole community. Victims of violent crimes may suffer physical, social, and emotional withdrawal from peer and family relations and become more likely to abuse alcohol or drugs. These traumatic experiences further contribute to their lack of effective learning, growth, and development. Today, the major problems in our schools are the use of firearms, weapons, substance abuse, and gangs. Such acts of violence occur not only in large urban areas, but also suburban and rural schools including both public and private schools. In 2004, students ages 12 to 18 were victims of 107,400 serious violent crimes at school (U.S. Department of Justice, 2006.) In 2005, 8% of students reported being threatened or injured with a weapon such as a gun, knife, or club on school property, and only 55% of high-school students felt safe at school.
The use of guns in schools has increased to the point that approximately one in four major school districts now uses metal detectors to reduce the number of weapons brought into schools by students. Juvenile offenders arrested for weapons violations are sometimes fellow students, and non-student peers who threaten and attack students, administrators, and teachers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 1995 nearly one-fourth of students nationwide had carried a gun to school. In 1997, 4,205 children and teens died as a result of gunfire – one every two hours, nearly 12 every day. Gun violence among juveniles further causes countless injuries and disabilities.
The Crime Control Act of 1990 was passed by Congress in an effort to regain control of schools in the United States. The Act prohibits possession or discharge of a firearm on or within 1,000 feet of private, parochial, or public school grounds. Violators can face up to five years imprisonment, a fine of no more than $250,000, or both. As of 1996, fifteen states including New Jersey have passed laws making adults criminally liable for shootings committed by children who have access to the weapons. A maximum of three years in prison can result for a fatal shooting that occurs in this type of situation.
Any juvenile charged with unlawful possession of a firearm in New Jersey is subject to a Fourth Degree crime. Furthermore, a juvenile charged with delinquency for weapon possession must face a retention hearing where the court may decide to hold the juvenile in detention pending the outcome of the case. If the juvenile was also in Possession of a Firearm for Unlawful Purposes, he faces an enhanced charge involving a Second Degree crime. If the firearm was brought into a school, then the charge is a Third Degree offense. A juvenile being charged with a Third Degree, and even Second Degree crime, can face a lengthy incarceration time or additional consequences if convicted.