2053 Woodbridge Avenue - Edison, NJ 08817

Kenneth Vercammen is a trial attorney in Edison, NJ. He is a speaker at the annual Nuts & Bolts of Estate Administration & Elder Law program, American Bar Association General Practice Division.

He is a New Jersey trial attorney has devoted a substantial portion of his professional time to the preparation and trial of litigated matters. He has appears in Courts throughout New Jersey each week litigation and contested Probate hearings.

Mr. Vercammen has published over 150 legal articles in national and New Jersey publications on criminal, elder law, probate and litigation topics. He is a highly regarded lecturer on litigation and probate law for the American Bar Association, NJ ICLE, New Jersey State Bar Association and Middlesex County Bar Association. His articles have been published in noted publications included New Jersey Law Journal, ABA Law Practice Management Magazine, and New Jersey Lawyer.

Friday, February 27, 2015

NJ LAWS NEWSLETTER E463


NJ LAWS
NEWSLETTER E463
Kenneth Vercammen, Attorney at Law

1.  Friends, Professionals, Business owners, 5k runners invited to St. Patrick Happy Hour & Networking Social.  
 Recent Cases: 
2. DL suspension should not be stayed after conviction unless findings of fact.  
3. Criminal charge where later guilty plea to civil violation can be expunged. In the Matter of the Expungement Application of P.H.  
4.  Next community events. 
5. Subscribe to our NJ Municipal Court Law Review newsletter.  
6. New YouTube educational videos 

1.  Friends, Professionals, Business owners, 5k runners invited to St. Patrick Happy Hour & Networking Social
Friday, March 13, 2015
 5:30PM - 7:30PM
at Bar Anticipation
703 16th Avenue Lake Como/ Belmar, NJ 07719
Free !
5:30-7:30PM Hot & Cold Buffet
    The reduced price Happy Hour is 6-7PM with $1.50 House Drink, Bud/BudLt draft & House Wine Special
       Please bring a canned food donation for a community food bank, continuing to provide food and help to individuals in need.
      Email Ken Vercammen's Law Office so we can put your name on the VIP list for wristbands.     VercammenLaw@Njlaws.com
         The confirmed sponsors for the March 2015 Happy Hour are NJ State Bar Association Municipal Court Section, Young Lawyers Division, Banking Law, Taxation, LGBT Rights Section, Immigration Law Section. Health Law Section, Special Civil Part Special Committee, Lawyers in Transition Committee, Fidelity and Surety Law Special Committee, Privacy Law Special Committee, Special Committee for Paralegals, New Jersey Defense Association  Board, Retired Police & Fire Middlesex Monmouth Local 9, Jersey Shore Chamber of Commerce.
 If your group, non-profit or organization wishes to co-sponsor, please contact Ken Vercammen, Edison, NJ
https://www.facebook.com/events/921987801168706

2. DL suspension should not be stayed after conviction unless findings of fact.  State v Robertson __N.J.Super.__(App. Div. 2014) A-0296-13T1
         In this appeal from a DWI conviction, the court rejects defendant's argument that the Alcotest results should have been excluded because he was denied discovery of certain repair records, which were created by the Alcotest's manufacturer, and certain downloaded data, which the State routinely erases. The court concludes the records were not discoverable under Rule 7:7-7, nor did they constitute Brady material.
         The court also addressed the unexplained decisions of both the municipal court and the Law Division to stay defendant's license suspension pending appeal. The court instructs trial courts that any stay of a license suspension after a DWI conviction should be supported by adequate findings of fact and conclusions of law, and should comply with standards governing the grant of a stay pending appeal set forth in Garden State Equality v. Doe, 216 N.J. 314, 320 (2013).

3. Criminal charge where later guilty plea to civil violation can be expunged. In the Matter of the Expungement Application of P.H. 436 N.J. Super. 427 (App. Div. 2014)
       The court considered the application of the expungement statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:52-1 to -32, where petitioner was charged with a fourth degree offense but ultimately agreed to a violation of a statute for which he paid a civil penalty. Petitioner requested expungement of all criminal records, which was granted by the trial judge; records of the civil violation and the file of the NJSPCA were not subject to expungement.
       The State appealed, advancing numerous reasons for reversal, primarily arguing the final disposition controls whether expungement relief is available. Maintaining the initial criminal charges were part of the same file that was disposed of through a plea agreement-allowing defendant to pay a civil penalty, the State asserts expungement cannot be permitted. The court disagreed and concluded petitioner was not convicted and the final disposition was not a plea agreement. Rather, the criminal charges were dismissed. Accordingly, expungement was permitted under N.J.S.A. 2C:52-6(a).

4.  Next community events:
March 1      Belmar St. Patrick Parade  (1st Sunday)   12:30

March 2, 2015 at 1:15 Monday  
Estate Planning & Probate Seminar
 North Brunswick Chapter #3885 of AARP
North Brunswick Senior Center, 15 Linwood Place, North Brunswick, NJ 08902    [Materials distributed at 12:15]

March 7, 2015 South Amboy St. Patrick Parade -Hand out invites for Happy Hour

March 8, 2015     St Patrick Parade - Woodbridge  1:30

Friday, March 13, 2015
Happy Hour & Networking Social
5:00PM - 7:00PM  
2015 Union County Saint Patrick's Day Parade  Saturday March 14th 2015 at 1.

3/15/15  St. Paddy's 10 miler & 5k    9:30 Freehold   Keg of beer and some food   great FARC event keg is outside.

March 15, 2015 Sunday, West Orange St. Patrick Parade, Somerville St Patrick's Day Parade  Sunday March 15th, 2015 @ 1:30pm


5.  We also publish the NJ Municipal Court Law Review newsletter. I served as the Prosecutor for Cranbury Township, Middlesex County for nine years and started the NJ Municipal Court Law Review to provide attorneys, prosecutors, police officers and individuals involved in the criminal justice system with recent criminal and traffic cases.    
To subscribe, Please forward a check or voucher for $20.00 to receive the NJ Municipal Court Law Review.  This quarterly newsletter reports changes in New Jersey Court decisions, selected revised motor vehicle and criminal laws, cases, seminars, and information on Municipal Court practice.
      Vouchers accepted. Please send a stamped, self-addressed envelope for their return.  Multiple subscriptions encouraged.
      Please must send a $20.00 check payable to Vercammen & Associates, PC.

Kenneth A. Vercammen, Esq.,   
                Editor- NJ Municipal Court Law Review  
                2053 Woodbridge Ave.
                Edison, NJ 08817
                732-572-0500
               Tax ID # available

6.  We discontinued doing our weekly WCTC show due to the cost involved.  To better reach and inform our past and current clients, colleagues, and friends we will be offering New YouTube educational videos for free as part of this weekly email newsletter.

Removing an Executor of an Estate

Duty of an Executor

Post Will Instructions

Possession of Marijuana defense in NJ

NJ Estate Tax

More at:


 




KENNETH VERCAMMEN & ASSOCIATES, PC
ATTORNEY AT LAW
2053 Woodbridge Ave.
Edison, NJ 08817
(Phone) 732-572-0500
(Fax) 732-572-0030
website: www.njlaws.com

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

State v Borjas Court Says Ban on Fake Government Documents Not Unconsti...

E462 1. News 12 NJ TV interviews Ken Vercammen on Breach of Contract and failure of wedding hall to refund deposit. 2. Star Ledger interviews Ken Vercammen regarding Yankees and A-Rod contract. 3. Recent cases: DWI offenses separated by more than ten years are eligible for "step-down" provision. State v. Revie 4. Judge must recuse where a reasonable person would harbor doubts about the fairness of the proceedings. State v Dalal 5. Nursing Home Patient Bill of Rights 6. Friends, Professionals, Business owners, 5k runners invited to St. Patrick Happy Hour & Networking Social, Friday, March 13, 2015, 5:30PM - 7:30PM 7. New YouTube educational videos

1. News 12 NJ TV interviews Ken Vercammen on Breach of Contract and failure of wedding hall to refund deposit.
2. Star Ledger interviews Ken Vercammen regarding Yankees and A-Rod contract.
3. Recent cases:  DWI offenses separated by more than ten years are eligible for "step-down" provision. State v. Revie 
4.  Judge must recuse where a reasonable person would harbor doubts about the fairness of the proceedings. State v Dalal  
5.  Nursing  Home Patient Bill of Rights
6. Friends, Professionals, Business owners, 5k runners invited to St. Patrick Happy Hour & Networking Social, Friday, March 13, 2015, 5:30PM - 7:30PM
7.  New YouTube educational videos

1. News 12 NJ TV interviews Ken Vercammen on Breach of Contract and failure of wedding hall to refund deposit.

2. Yankees vs. Alex Rodriguez: How lawyers say team could avoid paying him.
http://www.nj.com/yankees/index.ssf/2015/01/fraud_among_defenses_yankees_could_use_to_not_pay.html

 
3. Recent cases:  DWI offenses separated by more than ten years are eligible for "step-down" provision. State v. Revie __ NJ __ (2014) A-31-13
The N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(a)(3) "step-down" provision can benefit a DWI offender more than once, provided that the defendant's most recent and current DWI offenses are separated by more than ten years.  In this case, defendant should be sentenced as a second DWI offender with respect to any term of incarceration imposed, and as a third DWI offender with respect to the applicable administrative penalties.

4.  Judge must recuse where a reasonable person would harbor doubts about the fairness of the proceedings. State v Dalal  __ NJ Super.__ (App. Div.) A-3715-13T3  
     The court granted leave to examine an interlocutory order which denied defendant's motion to recuse the Bergen County judiciary from presiding over a prosecution that included a charge of conspiring to murder a Bergen County assistant prosecutor. The issue reached an acute stage when the State informed it would offer evidence at trial that defendant threatened the lives of two Bergen judges. Even though the court acknowledged the trial judge, who was not one of the threatened judges, appeared able to fairly and impartially preside, the court held that defendant is entitled to the relief sought because, in the final analysis, "justice must satisfy the appearance of justice" and a reasonable person would harbor doubts about the fairness of the proceedings.

5.  Nursing  Home Patient Bill of Rights
NJSA 30:13-8  Violations; causes of action; damages. 
    Any person or resident whose rights as defined herein are violated shall have a cause of action against any person committing such violation.  The Department of Health and Senior Services may maintain an action in the name of the State to enforce the provisions of this act and any rules or regulations promulgated pursuant to this act.  The action may be brought in any court of competent jurisdiction to enforce such rights and to recover actual and punitive damages for their  violation.  Any plaintiff who prevails in any such action shall be entitled to  recover reasonable attorney's fees and costs of the action. b.  In addition to the provisions of subsection a. of this section, treble damages may be awarded to a resident or alleged third party guarantor of payment who prevails in any action to enforce the provisions of section 3 of P.L.1997, c.241 (C.30:13-3.1).
    More on Nursing  Home Patient Bill of Rights    http://elder-law.blogspot.com

6. Friends, Professionals, Business owners, 5k runners invited to St. Patrick Happy Hour & Networking Social
Friday, March 13, 2015
 5:30PM - 7:30PM
at Bar Anticipation
703 16th Avenue Lake Como/ Belmar, NJ 07719
Free !
5:30-7:30PM Hot & Cold Buffet
    The reduced price Happy Hour is 6-7PM with $1.50 House Drink, Bud/BudLt draft & House Wine Special
       Please bring a canned food donation for a community food bank, continuing to provide food and help to individuals in need.
      Email Ken Vercammen's Law Office so we can put your name on the VIP list for wristbands.     VercammenLaw@Njlaws.com
         The confirmed sponsors for the March 2015 Happy Hour are NJ State Bar Association Municipal Court Section, Young Lawyers Division, Banking Law, Taxation, LGBT Rights Section, Immigration Law Section. Health Law Section, Special Civil Part Special Committee, Lawyers in Transition Committee, Fidelity and Surety Law Special Committee, Privacy Law Special Committee, Special Committee for Paralegals, New Jersey Defense Association  Board, Retired Police & Fire Middlesex Monmouth Local 9, Jersey Shore Chamber of Commerce.
 If your group, non-profit or organization wishes to co-sponsor, please contact Ken Vercammen, Edison, NJ

7.  New YouTube educational videos


Careless driving 39:4-97



2C:17-3 Criminal mischief in NJ

More at:


KENNETH VERCAMMEN & ASSOCIATES, PC
ATTORNEY AT LAW
2053 Woodbridge Ave.
Edison, NJ 08817
(Phone) 732-572-0500
(Fax) 732-572-0030
website: www.njlaws.com

Friday, February 06, 2015

E461 1. Liability Injury due to Snow and Ice Accumulation and Other Dangerous Conditions in Abutting Sidewalks. 2. Recent cases: No jail for careless driving unless aggravating factors found. State v Palma 219 NJ Super. 584 (App. Div 2014) 3. Failure to read refusal warnings not a defense to DWI State v Peralta 47 NJ Super. 570 (App.Div 2014) 4. Next Charity events 5. New Youtube videos

1. Liability Injury due to Snow and Ice Accumulation and Other Dangerous Conditions in Abutting Sidewalks. 
2. Recent cases:  No jail for careless driving unless aggravating factors found.
 State v Palma 219 NJ Super. 584 (App. Div 2014)
3. Failure to read refusal warnings not a defense to DWI State v Peralta 47 NJ Super. 570 (App.Div 2014)
4.  Next Charity events
5.  New Youtube educational videos 

1. Liability of Owner of Commercial Property for Defects, Snow and Ice Accumulation and Other Dangerous Conditions in Abutting Sidewalks. 

     The law imposes upon the owner of commercial or business property the duty to use reasonable care to see to it that the sidewalks abutting the property are reasonably safe for members of the public who are using them. In other words, the law says that the owner of commercial property must exercise reasonable care to see to it that the condition of the abutting sidewalk is reasonably safe and does not subject pedestrians to an unreasonable risk of harm. The concept of reasonable care requires the owner of commercial property to take action with regard to conditions within a reasonable period of time after the owner becomes aware of the dangerous condition or, in the exercise of reasonable care, should have become aware of it.
     If there was a condition of this sidewalk that was dangerous in that it created an unreasonable risk of harm for pedestrians, and if the owner knew of that condition or should have known of it but failed to take such reasonable action to correct or remedy the situation within a reasonable period of time thereafter as a reasonably prudent commercial or business owner would have done under the circumstances, then the owner is negligent.
     No one plans on being injured in an accident, whether it is a car accident, fall down or other situation. Speak with a personal injury attorney immediately to retain all your rights. The stores are responsible for the maintenance of their premises, which are used by the public. It is the duty of the store to inspect and keep said premises in a safe condition and free from any and all pitfalls, obstacles or traps that would likely cause injury to persons lawfully thereon.
     If the unsafe condition is alleged to be snow and ice, N.J.S.A. 40:64-12 and any ordinance adopted by the municipality might be charged as a factor, the jury should consider the reasonableness of the time the defendant(s) has (have) waited to remove or reduce a snow or ice condition from the sidewalk.
     What actions must the owner of commercial property take with regard to defects / snow / ice accumulation/ dangerous conditions? The action required by the law is action which a reasonably prudent person would take or should have taken in the circumstances present to correct the defect / snow / ice accumulation/ dangerous condition, to repair it/remove it or to take other actions to minimize the danger to pedestrians (for example, to give warning of it) within a reasonable period of time after notice thereof. The test is: did the commercial property owner take the action that a reasonably prudent person who knows or should have known of the condition would have taken in that circumstance? If he/she did, he/she is not negligent. If he/she did not, he/she is negligent.
  If you are injured, after seeking medical treatment and advising the store/mall, 

 
CALL KENNETH A. VERCAMMEN, ESQ. 732-572-0500 for an Appointment.

Recent cases:  
2.   No jail for careless driving unless aggravating factors found. State v Palma  
219 NJ Super. 584 (App. Div 2014)
   The factors outlined by this Court in State v. Moran, 202 N.J. 311 (2010), should be followed by judges in the municipal court and Law Division when imposing sentences for careless driving. 

 
3 . Failure to read refusal warnings not a defense to DWI State v Peralta 47 NJ Super. 570 (App.Div 2014)
     In this appeal, defendant argued the police failure to read to him the standard statement referred to in N.J.S.A. 39:4 50.2(e) - which, in its current iteration, largely but not entirely advises of the consequences of refusing to provide a breath sample - requires reversal of his DWI conviction based solely on an Alcotest reading. The court held this alleged failure was not fatal to the DWI conviction because defendant did not refuse to provide a breath sample.

4.  Next Charity events:
1/31  RVRR Annual dinner Piscataway
2/1/15   Freehold Winter 5k   10:00am Sunday
2/2 Rutgers Law School Newark Starting a Law practice class 3:55pm
2/8, 11 a.m. ORC Winter Series, Ocean County Park, Lakewood, New Jersey
2/21 Manasquan 2 mile beach run
2/22  Sunday, February 22, 2, 4, 0r 6 Miles, 10:58 a.m. Train Run Snowball Express, Asbury Park, New Jersey
March 1 march with JSRC at Belmar St Patrick's Day Parade

5. New Youtube educational videos:
39:4-96. reckless driving

39:4-144 Stopping or yielding right of way before entering stop 
or yield intersections.39:4-144

PTI Pre Trial Intervention for first offender criminal charges


2C:12-3. Terroristic threats

Wills & Estate Planning in NJ

More at:

KENNETH VERCAMMEN & ASSOCIATES, PC
ATTORNEY AT LAW
2053 Woodbridge Ave.
Edison, NJ 08817
(Phone) 732-572-0500
(Fax) 732-572-0030
website: www.njlaws.com

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

E459 New Year's Resolution - Put your Estate Planning in order 2. 2015 update Wills and Estate Planning- Free Seminar 3. Domestic Violence Defense

1. New Year's Resolution - Put your Estate Planning in order
2. Freezing Cold Has Run Sat. Jan. 3, 2015
3. You are invited to 2015 update Wills and Estate Planning- Free Seminar
4. Domestic Violence Defense
 
1. New Year's Resolution - Put your Estate Planning in order
    You need a Will, Power of Attorney and Living Will/ Advance Directive.
    Our state has passed a "Living Will" law, often called a "Death with Dignity" law, which allows a person to direct that heroic measures not be taken to prolong life in these unhappy situations. Modern medicine and machinery can keep a person alive for long periods of time. Unfortunately, a person is often kept alive in great pain or under circumstances that render him or her unconscious as to everything around them, while causing pain and anguish to the family.
     This "Living Will" is not a substitute for a regular Will, which affects property rights. The "Living Will" is an independent document to be signed in addition to your regular Will.
    Please let us know if you want a Will, Power of Attorney and Living Will/ Advance Directive prepared.
      I would like to thank my clients and friends for another good year. This year was a great year for referrals. So many of you were kind enough to tell others about our services and recommend us. Since 1985, I have helped individuals and businesses with legal matters. With changing laws, it is important that your estate planning documents are updated to reflect your most valuable investments. As you know, all business must grow, and one of the safest ways to grow is to get referrals from satisfied clients. Thank you for referring friends and family. May the new year bring happiness and good health to you and those you love.  

 
2.  2015 update Wills and Estate Planning- Free Seminar                                      
 
Wednesday Jan 14         12:15-1:00 PM and again 5:15pm-6pm
 
Law Office of Kenneth Vercammen, 2053 Woodbridge Ave, Edison, NJ 08817
 
       Invited: Clients, Friends, Accountants, Business Owners, HR staff, Financial Planners, Insurance Agents, Nursing Home Staff, Hospital and Nursing Home Social Workers, Office on Aging Personnel, Senior Club Presidents, and Medicaid Workers,
 
COST: Free if you pre-register by email. Complimentary materials provided at 12:00 sharp. We previously held this seminar for the Metuchen and Edison Adult schools. This program is limited to 15 people. Please bring a canned food donation, which will be given to the St. James Food Bank located on Woodbridge Avenue in Edison, NJ. Please email us if you plan on attending or if you would like us to email the materials.
 
SPEAKER: Kenneth Vercammen, Esq.
                (Author- Answers to Questions About Probate)
The new NJ Probate Law made a number of substantial changes in Probate and the administration of estates and trusts in New Jersey.
 
Main Topics:
1. The New Probate Law and preparation of Wills         
2. 2014 changes in Federal Estate and Gift Tax exemption
3. NJ Inheritance tax $675,000
4. Power of Attorney                       
5. Living Will                                         
6. Administering the Estate/ Probate/Surrogate              
7. Question and Answer                
 
       COMPLIMENTARY MATERIAL: Brochures on Wills, "Answers to Questions about Probate" and Administration of an Estate, Power of Attorney, Living Wills, Real Estate Sales for Seniors, and Trusts.
       Co-Sponsor: Middlesex County Estate Planning Council
 
To attend or for Information: Mike McDonald 732-572-0500
 
Can't attend? We can email you materials
Send email to VercammenLaw@Njlaws.com
 
4. Domestic Violence Defense
by Kenneth A. Vercammen, Esq.
             New Jersey domestic violence laws are very strict. A spouse or girlfriend could call the police and if there are any signs of physical injuries the police must arrest the man. Even without independent witnesses and no physical injuries, police may arrest the man. The police are required to give the victim information about their rights and to help them. Among other things, police must write up a report. For example, O.J. Simpson would not have gotten away with abuse in New Jersey. Police are automatically required to arrest an abuser if they see any evidence of abuse or assault.
             Even during the evening, your town Municipal Court or Superior Court can issue a Restraining Order, which is a legally enforceable document. The Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) will prohibit the defendant/abuser from any contact with the victim or entering the residence.
             Unlike a criminal case where a person is provided with lengthy due process rights, and if guilty receives probation and a monetary fine, a domestic violence hearing allows judges to issue far-reaching orders. A domestic violence hearing is usually held within only ten (10) days after the filing of an ex parte complaint and temporary restraining order. After a hearing, NJSA 2C:25-29 (b) allows the Chancery Division, Family Part Judge to grant substantial relief to the complainant.
             Our Supreme Court has already found that the ten-day provision comports with the requirements of due process, but can be delayed.
 
               In H.E.S. v. J.C.S.175 N.J. 309, 323 (2003), the Court held:
             "the ten-day provision does not preclude a continuance where fundamental fairness dictates allowing a defendant additional time. Indeed, to the extent that compliance with the ten-day provision precludes meaningful notice and an opportunity to defend, the provision must yield to due process requirements." [Internal quotations and citations omitted.]
 
Discovery not mandatory in Domestic Violence family cases
 
      Domestic violence actions are "summary actions," a fact that inherently precludes the right to discovery. See, e.g., H.E.S.supra, 175 N.J. at 323. However, the Appellate Division inCrespo v. Crespo, 408 N.J. Super. 25 (App. Div. 2009) noted that one trial court has determined that, in accordance with Rule 5:5-1(d), a defendant may seek leave to obtain discovery in such a matter upon a showing of good cause. Depos v. Depos307 N.J. Super. 396, 400 (Ch. Div. 1997). The Appellate Court agreed with the opinion of Judge Dilts in Deposthat in compelling circumstances, where a party's ability to adequately present evidence during a domestic violence action may be significantly impaired, a trial judge may, in the exercise of sound discretion, permit limited discovery in order to prevent an injustice. Judges are not required to be oblivious to a party's claim for discovery in compelling circumstances even though the court rules do not expressly authorize relief. See, e.g., Kellam v. Feliciano,376 N.J. Super. 580, 587 (App. Div. 2005).
       The Crespo court held "Here, the record reveals that at no time did defendant seek leave to conduct any discovery proceedings." Therefore, it is important for defense counsel to demand discovery.
      In Pepe v. Pepe, 258 N.J. Super. 157 (Chan. Div. 1992) held that the confidentiality provision of record keeping under the Domestic Violence act applies to the records kept on file with the Clerk of the Superior Court.
      Despite the substantial financial burden and life restrictions (often referred to as penalties), the burden of proof in a DOMESTIC VIOLENCE hearing is only "by a preponderance of evidence" and not "beyond a reasonable doubt."
      Too often lawyers throw up their hands when a client presents a complaint involving domestic violence and related criminal charges. While defense of the complaint may become an involved process requiring commitment and persistence, there are a number of viable defenses and arguments that can achieve a successful result. Rather than simply suggest that a client plead guilty and avoid trial, an attorney should accept the challenge and apply his best legal talents to protect the client's rights.
       We require a great deal of cooperation from our clients in an effort to help keep their costs reasonable. We require our clients to prepare diagrams and provide us with the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of witnesses.
      Sometimes a family friend can act as a go between for the parties and convince the complaint to dismiss the charges. A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE complainant can be withdrawn. However, if a criminal complaint is signed by the police, only the prosecutor can make a motion to dismiss.
         1. The In-Office Interview at the Law Office
     We advise potential clients to bring in a copy of the complaint, all their papers in connection with their case, and any documents they received from the Police or a court. Often we will instruct them to write a confidential narrative for themselves if it is a case that is fact-specific or involves a great deal of detail, to help them remember the facts.
       Prior to the client coming into the office we e-mail them the Confidential New Client Interview Sheet. We obtain background information such as their name, address, the offenses charged, date of the person's arrest, other witnesses, what they told the police, their occupation and information regarding prior criminal arrests and immigration status. Our interview sheet also asks if there is anything else important, such as a medical condition that affects their case. This form will also let us know whether or not the client will follow instructions and cooperate with us. If they refuse to provide information we may have a problem client.
         After reviewing the complaint and the interview sheet at the in-office consultation I ask a series of questions of the client. We request the client wait until the end of the interview before explaining their side of the story. We also ask them if there is anything else of importance in connection with the case that we should know. The client may have pending serious criminal charges in another state or county. I often open up our statute book and show the clients the specific language of the offense they are charged with and explain to them the maximum penalties that could be imposed. By understanding the charges they are facing, my clients are more likely to realize the seriousness of the offense and pay our retainer.
         2. Retaining the Attorney
       Rule 1:11-2 of the Rules of Professional Conduct indicates that a retainer letter or written statement of fees is required for new clients. I also provide all my clients with written information explaining how to appear in court, our website pages to the offenses charged, and information regarding substance abuse treatment, if applicable.
     Once we receive our retainer (are paid), we begin work right away. Usually while the client is still in the office, we prepare a discovery letter on the computer to the prosecutor/district attorney and court and hand a copy to the client. We occasionally call the court to advise them that we will be handling the case and to inquire who handles discovery. We check the State Lawyers Diary to determine who are the judges and prosecutor/district attorneys for the county or town. It is important to know who may be the judge and the prosecutor.
        3. Post Interview Work When a Criminal Charge is Filed in Connection with the Family Domestic Violence Complaint.
      Motions to Dismiss should be made in writing such as statue of limitations or lack of jurisdiction. In the case involving essential witnesses, we occasionally write to the witnesses and ask them to call us so that we can find out what really happened. If possible I have our law clerks call the witness after we send the initial letter. The attorney cannot testify if the witness provides an inconsistent statement but our law clerks can testify. I sometimes speak to friendly witnesses myself later to make a decision to determine whether or not the witnesses are credible.
        If we discover a favorable reported decision, we make a copy for the judge, prosecutor, and client. Never assume the part time prosecutor or judge is familiar with all the laws. We can prepare a Subpoena ad Testificandum for witnesses to testify and Subpoena Duces Tecum for witnesses to bring documents. It is better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.
        4. Discovery In Criminal Charges
     Often we do not receive all of the discovery that we request. We send a letter to the prosecutor requesting additional discovery and request that the discovery be provided within 10 days. If we do not receive the discovery with 10 days then we prepare a Motion to Compel Discovery.
       Upon receiving discovery, we forward a photocopy of all discovery to our client. We then discuss with the client whether or not they have a reasonable prospect of winning.
        I recommend that my clients provide me with a list of between 10 to 15 reasons why they should not go to jail and why court should impose the minimum probation term. This provides us with information for mitigation of penalties and also provides information to be considered by the judge in sentencing.
         5. Preparing for Court
        When we receive the hearing notice we send a follow up reminder to the client to be on time, bring all papers and call 24 hours ahead to confirm the case is still on the calendar. The client should be prepared and look neat. The Grateful Dead and Budweiser T-Shirts should be replaced with something that looks presentable. They should have their pregnant wives sitting next to them.
      Preparation is the key to winning cases or convincing the prosecutor of exceptional defenses. Upon arrival at court, we will attempt to ascertain if the police officer is available. Sometimes the police officer is on vacation, retired, or suspended. This may assist your ability to work out a satisfactory arrangement.
       There is no prohibition against speaking with State's witnesses in a non-threatening way. Outside of the courtroom, I usually call out the name of the non-law enforcement State's witnesses to determine what their version of the facts is. If we have an excellent trial issue but believe the judge is going to rule against us, we bring an appeal notice and file it with the Court on the Record. I keep in my car blank forms for Order to Compel Discovery, Order Mark Try or Dismiss, Order to be Relieved, and an Appeal Notice.
          6. Plea to a Lesser Offense in Criminal Charge
         If the client is going to enter a guilty plea to an offense, it is important they understand what the offense is and put a factual basis on the record. The Judge will be angry if a person is pleading guilty to a computer theft offense and the judge asked them what they took and the person insists they did not do anything wrong. The judge will send you back to your seat and must refuse to take the guilty plea unless an adequate factual basis is put on the record.
      Having previously obtained from my clients their favorable background details in writing, I usually put on the record reasons why the judge should give them the minimum penalties.
         Letters of reference and character reference letters are helpful in cases where the judge has wide discretion in his sentencing. After the client pleads guilty, it is a good idea to also ask the client on the record if he has any questions of myself or of the court.
       7. Conclusion
      Whether or not we have a trial or there is a plea to reduce the charge, I wish to walk out knowing I did the best I could for the client. Even if I lose, I want to have been such an articulate advocate that the client walks out saying my attorney is great but the judge is wrong. We try to be innovative and prepare new arguments. Additional case law and certain legal defenses are updated on website: www.NJLaws.com.