Criminal Defense Attorney, Cape May County, NJ

If you have recently been arrested or charged with a crime in Cape May County, New Jersey, you may have legitimate reasons for concern. Even for minor offenses, the possible penalties can be highly disruptive to your life today while impacting your future tomorrow. You may be feeling anxiety, fear, concern, and worry. What happens in the courtroom? How do I defend myself against these charges? How will this affect my family or my job? What if I go to jail? What will become of my children? How will this affect my career?

As with all of life, knowledge is power, and you can get through this difficult time with the help of an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney. That's why the Lento Law Firm has assembled the following information to help you know what's at stake with your criminal charges; how New Jersey criminal law works; where your trial will likely be held; and what to expect before, during, and after your trial. You'll also learn how hiring an experienced New Jersey attorney can increase your chances for a better outcome.

Being Charged with a Crime in Cape May County, New Jersey

No way around it—being charged with a crime is disruptive. Regardless of your guilt or innocence, and even if you avoid being convicted, your family and you will need to be prepared to make some adjustments even before your trial happens.

The good news is that New Jersey recently passed extensive reforms that eliminate bail requirements in almost all criminal cases. But that doesn't mean you'll simply walk out of the courtroom to await trial. The courts may still place some limitations on your activities in the event of a “conditional release.” These restrictions are administered on a case-by-case basis and may include any or all of the following:

  • Establishment of a curfew for you until your trial.
  • Required check-ins with local law enforcement.
  • Limitations on where and when you can travel.
  • A requirement to stay at your current job (or be actively seeking employment if you were between jobs).
  • Limits on alcohol consumption.
  • Being placed in custody of a designated person.
  • Restraining orders that forbid you from contact with a family member or friend (especially if your alleged offense involved violence against that person).

If the courts deem you a low flight risk, you may be released on your own recognizance without any further restrictions. On the other extreme, the judge may simply opt to keep you in custody pending trial if he/she believes you might not show up for your trial. Whatever the case, a good defense attorney can often work to help minimize any restrictions on your life while you await trial. If your charges are dismissed or you are acquitted, all restrictions will be removed, and you'll be free to resume life as normal.

What Happens if You Are Found Guilty?

If your criminal charges result in a conviction in New Jersey, you may face a whole different set of restrictions, some with lasting impacts on your life. You may need to be prepared for any or all of the following:

  • Probation, fines, community service, and/or jail time.
  • Financial challenges. If you go to jail, this is self-evident since you won't be able to make an income. But even if you get a lighter sentence like probation, the conviction will appear on your record, possibly limiting your ability to work at certain jobs and making employers more reluctant to hire you. In some cases, the conviction may cost you your current job, as well.
  • Custody challenges. Being convicted of a crime can hurt your chances in a custody battle, and in some cases it can result in your custody or visitation rights being revoked.

How Misdemeanors and Felonies are Handled in New Jersey

New Jersey differs from most states in that it doesn't use the terms misdemeanor and felony in its criminal code. In New Jersey, misdemeanor-level crimes are called disorderly persons offenses, and felony-level crimes are indictable offenses. Let's talk about the differences and give some examples.

Disorderly Persons Offenses in New Jersey

Disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey are looked at as “minor” crimes which are subject to lesser sentences. They are equivalent to misdemeanor crimes in other states. Some examples of disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey include:

  • Disorderly conduct
  • Simple assault
  • Marijuana possession (less than 50 grams)
  • Harassment
  • Resisting arrest
  • Shoplifting (small dollar amount)
  • Writing bad checks
  • Obstruction

If you have charged with a disorderly persons offense in Cape May County, your case will be heard in the Municipal Court corresponding to your local jurisdiction, whether the alleged crime occurred in Ocean City, Stone Harbor, Woodbine, etc. Penalties for disorderly persons offenses typically include probation, community service, and possibly fines up to $1000—and some cases, jail time not to exceed six months. Having a good New Jersey criminal defense attorney can go a long way toward minimizing the sentencing if you are convicted—and in certain cases, the attorney can even get the charges against you dismissed.

Indictable Offenses in New Jersey

In New Jersey, indictable offenses are equivalent to felonies in most states—an appropriate term because, in New Jersey, you cannot be charged with these types of crimes without a grand jury indictment. In Cape May County, indictable offenses are tried at the Cape May County Superior Court.

Examples of indictable offenses in New Jersey include:

  • Arson
  • Aggravated assault
  • Marijuana possession (more than 50 grams)
  • Drug distribution
  • Sexual assault/rape
  • Armed robbery
  • Extortion
  • Manslaughter
  • Homicide

Indictable offenses are charged as Fourth, Third, Second, or First Degree crimes, with progressively severe penalties for each. If you're convicted of a Fourth Degree offense, for example, you may serve up to 18 months in prison and pay fines up to $10,000. A First Degree offense conviction may get you up to life in prison and fines up to $200,000.

Courts in Cape May County, New Jersey

The New Jersey court system is structured in a straightforward manner, making it fairly easy to determine which court will hear your case. Let's talk about Cape May County courts in more detail.

Municipal Courts in Cape May County

In New Jersey, the Municipal Courts are the lowest rung of the ladder, handling minor offenses ranging from traffic tickets to disorderly persons offenses of all types. These courts also serve as the venue for preliminary hearings in indictable offense cases to decide whether to bind over these cases for trial. Municipal Courts are for “bench trials” only, meaning there are no jury trials. The judge issues a ruling after both sides present their case.

Cape May County is served by sixteen Municipal Court locations as follows:

Avalon Municipal Court

3100 Dune Drive, Avalon, NJ 08202

Phone: 609-967-4457

Cape May City Municipal Court

643 Washington Street, Cape May, NJ 08204

Phone: 609-884-9525

Cape May Point Municipal Court

643 Washington Street, Cape May, NJ 08204

Phone: 609-884-9552

Dennis Township Municipal Court

Physical: 2100 Tuckahoe Road, Petersburg, NJ 08270

Mailing: PO Box 414, Tuckahoe, NJ 08250

Lower Township Municipal Court

401 Breakwater Road, North Cape May, NJ 08204

Phone: 609-886-6040

Middle Township Municipal Court

2 South Boyd Street, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210

Phone: 609-465-8729

North Wildwood Municipal Court

901 Atlantic Avenue, North Wildwood, NJ 08260

Phone: 609-729-3818

Ocean City Municipal Court

Public Safety Building

821 Central Avenue, 3rd Floor, Ocean City, NJ 08226

Phone: 609-525-9386

Sea Isle City Municipal Court

City Hall

233 John F. Kennedy Blvd, Sea Isle City, NJ 08243

Phone: 609-263-6101

Stone Harbor Municipal Court

9508 2nd Avenue, Stone Harbor, NJ 08247

Phone: 609-368-2411

Upper Township Municipal Court

2100 Tuckahoe Road, Petersburg, NJ 08270

Phone: 609-628-2011

West Cape May Municipal Court

732 Broadway, West Cape May, NJ 08204

Phone: 609-884-1005 ext. 111

West Wildwood Municipal Court

115 West Davis Avenue, Wildwood, NJ 08260

Phone: 609-522-4924

Wildwood Crest Municipal Court

6101 Pacific Avenue, Wildwood Crest, NJ 08260

Phone: 609-729-8035

Wildwood Municipal Court

115 West Davis Avenue, Wildwood, NJ 08260

Phone: 609-522-4924

Woodbine Municipal Court

2 South Boyd Street, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210

Phone: 609-465-8729

Superior Courts in Cape May County

Superior Courts are the main trial courts New Jersey. They handle most family law and civil matters, along with jury trials for all indictable offenses. In Cape May County, indictable offenses will be tried at the Cape May Superior Court:

Cape May County Superior Court

Cape May County Courthouse

9 North Main Street, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210

Phone: 609-402-0100

Appeals Process

If you and your attorney disagree with the verdict in Municipal or Superior Court, you have the right to file an appeal. Your attorney will first submit the appeal at the Appellate Division of Superior Court and later, if applicable, to the New Jersey Supreme Court. These courts do not hold trial, call witnesses, or entertain additional evidence; they only review the case itself for errors based on your appeal, and the judges will overturn the verdict or submit corrections only if they see a legitimate reason to do so.

Criminal Defense Attorney in Cape May County, New Jersey

Being convicted of a crime can have serious repercussions on both you and your family, no matter how minor the offense. For this reason, your choice of a criminal defense attorney to represent you could have a huge bearing on your future. Joseph D. Lento has many years of successful experience defending clients in Cape May County courtrooms. He knows how these courts work, and he can help you design a defense strategy that is most likely to result in a positive outcome. Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 today to learn more.

​​​Contact The Lento Law Firm Today


When it comes to criminal defense cases, you need the right person in your corner. To learn more about how Mr. Lento can help you, call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686. or contact him online.

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