If your child is accused of a crime, one of the first things you will want to do is acquaint yourself with the differences between the adult criminal system and that which exclusively tries children (minors younger than age 18). Understanding how these systems are designed to suit specific crimes, yet share some overlapping traits and rights can help better inform you on how to proceed in the event that your child is being prosecuted for a crime.
Despite charges that juvenile and adult courts are becoming increasingly similar (i.e., that courts are becoming harder on children, and that children are increasingly tried as adults – usually reserved for cases that are especially violent or sexual in nature), there remains many significant differences between the two.
Different terminology. To reflect some of the differences in procedure, terms unique to the juvenile court system are employed during trials and in legal files. Some differences include “Minor” in place of “Defendant”, “Adjudication” in place of “Trial”, “Delinquent act” for “crime”, and “Petition” rather than “Complaint”, amongst others.
No jury trials in juvenile court. In perhaps the biggest difference between the two systems, juveniles do not have the right to a trial by jury – instead, they will take their case to a judge or a bench officer, who will adjudicate the case in Family Court.
No right to bail. Rather than posting bail to get your child out of jail, you must wait to see if a court decides whether or not your child will be released.
Private hearings. Unlike most adult trials, hearings in Juvenile Court are closed off to the public, with the exception of offenses deemed serious and/or violent. This helps protect a minor later, if their record is expunged upon reaching age 18.
Parental/guardian questioning. Parents or guardians of a minor accused of a crime will very likely be questioned in court during a hearing, regarding their child’s behavior, home life, and other information. These responses can change the way a court handles a case, and it is wise to consult with a defense attorney prior to a hearing.
Greater opportunities for probation or diversionary programs. While theaim of adult jail is to punish, juvenile courts exist to help rehabilitate children, as well as provide them with a second chance to get their life on a productive path. Accordingly, many plans exist to keep a child out of a juvenile detention facility and, in turn, out of jail in their future; but oftentimes, it requires the skills of an experienced attorney to advocate for these alternative programs.
There are several extremely important similarities between the two systems that every individual whose child has been accused of a crime should know. Police and investigators will not make these or other aspects of the system abundantly clear, meaning parents may not know when their child’s rights are being violated.
Right to an attorney. Unlike adult criminal court, every child must be represented by an attorney throughout the Juvenile Court Process, once the child has been charged with a crime. You also have the right at any time in the process to change from a public defender to a defense attorney who specializes in juvenile law.
The right against self-incrimination, i.e. the ability to plead the 5th. Children, like adults, can invoke the 5th amendment in order to protect themselves from self-incrimination both on the witness stand and off.
The right to cross-examine witnesses. While adjudications in juvenile court are not, as mentioned, trials by jury, defense lawyers still have the right to cross-examine witnesses for the prosecution, giving the opportunity to show both sides of a situation as it may have occurred.
Juvenile law is a complicated and emotional field, and it takes a lawyer who has spent years working with minors to ensure that your child will receive the personalized attention they deserve. Leaving your child in the hands of the public legal system can have dire consequences. If you are concerned about your child’s future due to a recent brush with the law, contact Charles Block today.
Purchasing a house is usually the largest single expenditure that you’ll make in a lifetime. Many people view the home-buying process as a transaction but, in reality, it is just as much a legal procedure as it is an exchange of funds for property. It is important to obtain the services of a lawyer in order to protect your assets and make sure that the purchase agreement is executed in a manner that corresponds with your requirements for your new home. We’ve outlined just a few of the reasons why hiring a lawyer to assist you in the purchase of your home is a wise investment in your future.
1) Advice and Guidance. While a real estate broker will explain the process of home buying and your agency will do the best to make a sale, a lawyer is hired specifically for the purpose of handling your affairs and taking your side should a legal dispute arise. An attorney specializing in real estate can explain the terms of an agreement in plain English, as well as revise the agreement if it becomes necessary, and make sure it was properly signed. Lawyers with expertise in real estate law are also able to answer important questions surrounding the purchase of a home and their legal rights and responsibilities.
2) Special Circumstances. A purchase agreement is often made to fit a generic format that might not apply to the home you are looking to buy or sell. Hiring a lawyer to review this type of “standard form” and amend it if need be will make the end agreement better fit your desires. “Special circumstances” are not rare, and would apply to any sale of a property where anything is not perfectly in order. Some purchase agreement topics that may require legal assistance include: legal or illegal alteration of property, dangerous conditions such as hazardous waste, pests, asbestos or lead paint discovered after inspection, and deciding how a buyer will ultimately pay for their new home.
3) You are buying or selling a home in an unfamiliar place. If you are buying a home far from your current location (especially out-of-state), or selling one that is not nearby (perhaps belonging to a deceased relative), the home buying or selling process will be complicated even further. A real estate attorney will have more information on the inter-state purchasing process than a realtor, whose licensing education is mostly based on the contracts used in the state where they are holding their license.
4) Peacekeeping. Ultimately, a real estate attorney’s job is to make a contract come together, and to work through any issues the buyer, seller and broker may encounter in coming to an agreement. As the lawyer enters the picture after the price and terms are set by realtors, their job is mainly to negotiate and collaborate with the parties involved in the home inspection, contract and title company.
For more information about what a qualified real estate attorney can do for you during the home buying process, give us a call.
Bullying in schools – or outside of them, for that matter – is hardly a new problem, and is moreover one that teachers, parents and the courts have long been torn on how to combat. The advent of the internet and the ubiquitous use of social media amongst teenagers and even younger children has opened the floodgates for bullying to take on an online persona; we call this use of the internet to harass, intimidate or generally cause harm to another person “cyberbullying.” Below is some information on the current legal status of this form of bullying.
Is cyberbullying against the law?
Cyberbullying currently rests in a legal “gray area,” with some recent high-profile court decisions seeming to indicate that the law is coming down hard on children (and adults) accused of using the internet to harm others. Cyberbullying itself is not a crime, much as there is no federal law that specifically applies to bullying; rather, in serious cases of bullying, a child can be charged with harassment, assault and other misdemeanor crimes and even felonies. Although cyberbullying is an inherently non-physical crime and thus unlikely to bring assault charges, criminal harassment statutes can provide a pathway to prosecution in serious cases. More recently, due to several highly visible stories of suicides occurring after online harassment, suicides by children and teens that were ruled to have had a root cause in cyberbullying have led to the arrest of the alleged cyberbullies, the implication being that the death was in some way caused by their actions. In the case of 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick, her alleged bullies were arrested on charges of aggravated stalking, a 3rd degree felony.
Furthermore, in cases in which a sexualized photo of an underage victim is distributed online as a form of harassment and/or intimidation (and even in cases where the intent was not necessarily malicious), charges can include not just harassment but possession and distribution of child pornography, regardless of the age of the possessor.
What Can I Do If My Child Is Accused of Cyberbullying?
Schools and courts are beginning to crack down on defendants accused of cyberbullying, in part because of a widespread movement to acknowledge the emotional and physical harm that bullying of any form can lead to. Because of so many recent high-publicity incidents, including suicides and school shootings, in which bullying is suspected to have played a key role in causing the tragedies, the judicial trend has been towards greater accountability on the part of the accused. In short, accusations of cyberbullying are not to be taken lightly.
Contacting a lawyer who specializes in juvenile law immediately upon learning of accusations is the best first measure you can take to protect your child. The process of trying a juvenile is substantially different than that of an adult, and it’s well-advised to work with a lawyer who is experienced and skilled in this department. This can mean the difference between years in a state facility vs. rehabilitation and a second chance.
Should you find yourself in a situation where you and your child may need legal services because of cyberbullying or other cybercrimes, contact us to work with the law office of Charles J. Block to give your child the opportunity for a second chance. If your child has been ACCUSED BUT NOT YET CHARGED with a crime, we may be able to prevent the filing of formal charges.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in New Jersey, such as shoplifting or burglary, you are probably wondering if you should hire an attorney to represent you. With a court date looming up ahead and a sentencing to follow, you may be wondering and whether hiring an attorney is worth the investment. As an experienced attorney, I have represented numerous criminal cases and have succeeded in having robbery charges dropped or lowered in the New Jersey state. Rather than rely on a public defender to help you with your case, my legal services will assist you with handling and negotiating all aspects of your criminal charge.
There are a variety of reasons that you should opt for the professional legal services of an experienced defense attorney. Allowing an attorney to represent your case will benefit you greatly and may help you obtain a better outcome for your situation. Don’t take the chance of having a criminal charge marked on your record, spending time in jail and having to pay large fines. Give yourself the opportunity to have favorable results in your criminal charge. Below I have listed the top ten reasons why you should consider hiring a defense attorney to represent your criminal case.
- Evidence Errors – A lawyer will find issues with the evidence presented that may otherwise be unrecognizable.
- Paperwork Duty – In order to fill out paperwork correctly, a lawyer will help you. Administrative clerks do not help with this aspect, leaving you to do it on your own.
- Achieve a More Positive Outcome – With your assistance, your attorney will work with the prosecution to determine a decreased charge and plea deal.
- Witnesses – You may not know how to get in touch with a witness, but your lawyer will. A witness can help you in your case.
- Keep a Clean Record – Without a lawyer, you will not be able to have your criminal record eliminated.
- Submission and Deadlines – A legal professional will ensure that your paperwork is turned in on time.
- Expert Advice – The lawyer will provide you with all the information you need and can answer all of your questions.
- Save Money – Because your charges may be dropped or lowered, a lawyer on your side can prevent you from having to pay a bail and expensive fines.
- Less Stress and Worry – The amount of time it takes to handle a criminal case alone can take a toll on the emotional state of mind. A lawyer will take away this burden.
- Educate Yourself – Your attorney will make sure that you understand your rights and know what is happening in your case.
I, Charles Block, devote my time and energy to my clients. I will make sure that your rights are not violated, despite your accusation. Once you consult with me regarding your New Jersey burglary charges for the first time, I will help you understand the seriousness of your charges and devise a legal strategy to achieve a better outcome under your circumstance. Contact me today for a meeting by filling out the online form on my website, emailing me at Charles@CharlesBlock.com, or by calling 856-741-1495.
One of the largest advantages to reducing and avoiding a DUI or DWI conviction is the errors made by a police officer during the investigation. Some of the DUI cases I have handled throughout New Jersey had charges dismissed or reduced due to a cop’s mistakes in the arrest. I work with my clients who have been charged with a DUI or DWI in the Camden County NJ area to determine the best evidence that will defend their case. There are various mistakes that cops can make when charging a citizen with a DUI or DWI. Being aware of the faults of law enforcement officers can help determine an effective strategy for your DUI case.
An Unjustified Traffic Stop
If the police officer didn’t have a valid reason for pulling the driver over, it is considered an illegal stop. If this mistake occurs, all of the violations that were recorded could be suppressed by a written motion filed by my law service.
Sobriety Checkpoint Errors
Occasionally some officers do not adhere to the strict rules and regulations of the DUI checkpoint. This mistake alone can be challenged in the court of law.
Sobriety Test Misconduct
When a driver is asked to perform a sobriety test, sometimes the cop on duty may not consider the weather conditions, medical issues of the individual, fatigue, or pavement structure.
Breath Test Administration Faultiness
In some cases, the breath test is not administered correctly or police paperwork is filed wrong. The breathalyzer may be susceptible to producing skewed results. If this incident occurs, I can argue in your case that the DUI check was not conducted correctly.
If you have been charged with a DUI or DWI in the Gloucester County NJ area, consult with me today to determine your case.
So you’ve made a mistake with the law in the past and now you are ready to put it behind you. However, your criminal record is getting in the way of your new beginning. You want to get a job but the criminal record keeps popping up, causing employers to turn you away. You are trying to buy a home but the record makes it impossible. Fortunately, there is a legal solution called an expungement that can seal your record and make it clean again. As an expungement attorney that serves the Camden County area, Charles Block can assist you with handling the process of clearing your record.
Charles Block has won numerous expungement cases for clients. When Clients hire Charles Block, they can expect to be represented by an experienced professional attorney who will fight for them to gain the clean record they need. There are a number of steps in the expungement process that must be taken to achieve a clean record, of which an attorney can assist you.
- Find out if you are eligible. Certain criminal records cannot be cleared, even through an expungement. In addition, if you have more than one criminal record they may not be subject to expungement.
- Gather and locate your record. You will need the information from your record to file an expungement. The documents will contain key information needed such as date of arrest, offenses, and date of conviction.
- Fill out and complete all the forms. These forms are used to file the petition to seal your record.
- File and serve the forms you completed to the court.
- Attend your hearing.
- Present the expungement order signed by the judge to all parties, including the chief of police, the warden, and the country prosecutor.
If you are looking to clear your record and are in search of an expungement attorney in the Gloucester area, contact Charles Block! Check out his website for more information.
So, you’ve come to the conclusion that you want to sell your home via a short sale. What comes next? If you’ve decided that a short sale is right for you, the most important aspect of the process is to close the transaction. While our real estate attorneys at Charles Block can assist you with your short sale, it is good to know what you should expect throughout the procedure. Of course, the main objective is to avoid foreclosure and put an end to paying for an expensive mortgage.
A short sale will allow you to put your property on the market. When the transaction is complete, the lender will have agreed to release the loan on your home. Keep in mind that short sales don’t always cancel the debt of a mortgage. Sometimes they request the deficiency to be paid or for the loan to continue in repayments. This where our attorneys come in to help – to conduct negotiations and represent you and your needs.
Selling the Short Sale
Even with a short sale transaction, you will still need plenty of time to sell your property. A short sale can take months to close. Once your property is sold, you will have to move immediately, so be prepared. In addition, approval from all parties involved in your property is needed in order to close. We also suggest educating yourself on short sale frauds so that you can be aware of it and protect yourself from being a victim.
For more information on short sales real estate cases, please feel free to explore our website!
After everyone has had a few days to process the recent Ray Rice controversy, many New Jersey residents (along with sport fans around the world) are asking the same question: Should New Jersey lawmakers change who is eligible for the pre-trial intervention program in order to avoid probation or jail time?
Rice, a former NFL star (now that he has been suspended indefinitely and released by the Baltimore Ravens), was charged with aggravated assault in February for attacking his then-fiancé (now wife) at Revel, an Atlantic City Casino. If convicted, he faced a possible sentence of 3 to 5 years in prison.
A request by Rice’s attorney for pre-trial intervention was granted by the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office. A pre-trial intervention program allows first-time offenders of 3rd or 4th degree crimes to avoid prosecution. If Rice meets the conditions of the program, his record will be cleared of the charge.
This past Monday, TMZ posted video of the violent attack in which Rice punched his wife and dragged her unconscious body out of an elevator. Since the video was made to be seen publicly, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney called to review the process in which the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office decided on whether or not the New Jersey PTI program needs to be changed.
Upon seeing the violent video, State Assemblyman Joseph Cryan plans to introduce a bill next Monday that would prohibit any individual who is charged with aggravated assault in a domestic violence case from entering the pre-trial intervention program.
Do you think it is time to change the law? If you have any questions concerning the current program for pretrial intervention in New Jersey, please contact Attorney Charles Block today.
In the state of New Jersey, there are two scenarios that can leave you without the expungement you were hoping for, to wipe away a crime from your record:
- Objection to Your Petition
Why Would You Be Ineligible for an Expungement?
- Prior Convictions- Numerous requirements must be met in order for an expungement petition to be eligible. An individual must not have other prior convictions. New Jersey courts take into account all previous crimes when considering eligibility of expungement petition
- Pending Cases- Pending criminal charges are also considered by New Jersey courts. In most cases, if there are pending charges, the courts will find you ineligible
- The Waiting Game- You must complete a waiting period which begins at either:
- The enforcement date of sentence
- Date all fines are paid
- Date jail, parole or probation is completed (whichever date comes last)
Waiting times vary depending on severity of conviction
General waiting periods:
Felony Crime – 10 years
Misdemeanor – 5 years
Juvenile Adjudication – 5 years
Municipal Ordinance – 2 years
Young Drug Offender – one year
Diversion Program – six months
Dismissal – No waiting period
If you find that you are ineligible due to any of the waiting time requirements, you can have an expungement lawyer of NJ prepare your paperwork and help you apply later once you become eligible. This ensures that your record is cleared as soon as possible.
Do You Meet All of the Requirements, But are Still Denied?
After meeting all of the requirements, your petition for expungement could still be denied by a prosecutor if:
Expungement is not in the public’s best interest
The crime is considered too dangerous to be expunged
You do not prove to be rehabilitated after crime
If you are in need of assistance in getting a criminal charge wide clean from your record, contact my office today.
As a criminal law attorney, many of the questions I receive are about restraining orders. In fact, one of the most important questions I get asked is, “When can I file for a restraining order?” In order for resident of New Jersey for a restraining order, he or she must have been a victim who was subjected to domestic violence.
What does the term, “victim,” mean?
A victim is anyone who is over the age of 18 who has been subjected to an act of violence caused by a spouse, present household member, or former household member. The term victim also includes anyone, or any age, who has been abused physically by a spouse who he/she is having a child with, or a person who he/she is in a dating relationship with.
Individuals are able to obtain a restraining order against a juvenile if they have a child with the juvenile, and have been subjected to domestic abuse. The steps involved with filing for a restraining order include:
- · Fill out a domestic violence complaint, which is a civil complaint
- · Appear before judge who upon reviewing the complaint, will ask questions
- · A temporary restraining order will be filed if the judge is satisfied with your answers
- · A final restraining order hearing will also be set by the judge
There is a difference between a temporary restraining order and a final restraining order is that the temporary restraining order is issued to the individual based on their input given during the initial hearing. This protects the victim from the defendant until the final restraining order is given.
For more information on criminal law, please contact Charles Block, Attorney at Law, by calling 856-741-1495.