Criminal Defense Attorney, Somerset County, NJ

Being arrested or charged with a crime can be a distressing and upsetting experience for anybody. Police, prosecution, and court procedures are things most of us don't know a lot about, and when you add to that the uncertainty of not knowing what is going to happen to you when charged with a crime, it can all add up to an extremely stressful experience no matter where it happens. The information on this page is designed to help answer some of your questions, in particular, if you've been charged or arrested in Somerset County, NJ. First, it will cover what can happen just after being charged, before any trial. Then it will explain the different categories of crimes and their potential penalties, then the general structure of the court system in Somerset County, and finally will give you some information about the appeals process.

Of course, each case is different. The best way to get a complete understanding of your situation is to contact an experienced and effective defense attorney who can discuss your situation with you, explain the court procedure and your options, and help you defend yourself against the charges you face.

Joseph D. Lento has that experience. He has been defending clients charged with various crimes in New Jersey for years and can help you understand your situation and work with you to build a strong and effective defense. While speaking with Joseph Lento or one of his colleagues at the Lento Law Firm is the best way to get help with your particular case, the information on this page will help you understand in a more general way what it means to be charged with a crime, what happens between the time you're charged and trial, where your case will be heard, and what you can do to have a better chance at a positive outcome. When you've reviewed this information, feel free to contact Joseph Lento and the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 or through our contact form today to learn more about how we can help.

After You're Charged with a Crime in Somerset County, NJ

In some cases, where the charges against you are relatively minor, your day-to-day life after your arrest won't change much at all, except that you will have to appear for preliminary court hearings and your trial. If the charges against you are more serious, however, you could face significant restrictions on your everyday life. Fortunately, most defendants no longer have to worry about being held in jail until trial (though bail laws change frequently). That said, your release may come with certain conditions you have to follow if you want to remain free until your case is resolved. These restrictions can include the following:

  • You may be placed in the custody of someone like a friend, family member, or other designated individual, who may have to promise the court that you will appear for hearings and trial.
  • You might be prevented from traveling out of New Jersey or out of the country without advance permission from the court or the police.
  • The court may order you to stay in your current job, or if you're unemployed the judge may require you to look for work.
  • You can be forced to be home by a certain time each night.
  • The judge may require you to check in with a law enforcement officer on a regular basis.
  • You may be ordered not to contact or go near the alleged victim of your crime, particularly if you've been charged with committing a violent act against someone.

While incarceration prior to trial is unusual, if the court decides you are a flight risk and the underlying crime is severe enough, the judge could order you to remain in jail until trial. This is where a skilled New Jersey criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate release conditions that will satisfy the court that you will not flee the jurisdiction, allowing you to stay free (with some conditions) until trial.

What Happens if You Are Convicted

If you are convicted of a crime in Somerset County, NJ, the effect on your present and future life can be significant. First, of course, is your sentence. This can be any combination of probation, fines, community service, and jail time. But in some ways, your sentence is only the beginning because a criminal conviction can have effects that go well beyond whether you have to pay a fine or spend time in jail. In particular, you may face some of the following:

  • Loss of income affecting you and your family. The saying “crime doesn't pay” is particularly true when you're in jail and unable to make a living to support yourself or your family. A conviction with no jail time can also hurt you because some employers will fire employees who have been convicted of crimes, particularly if the employer considers the crime to be a serious one.
  • Difficulty finding work. Face it, the stories about convicted criminals having problems finding work are based on the truth. Many employers won't consider applicants who have criminal records, and some jobs that require a state license or certification are closed to those convicted of certain crimes.
  • Problems finding a place to live. Landlords may be reluctant to rent to someone with a criminal record, and lenders may not want to loan you the money to purchase a home. And there are some crimes, notably sex-related crimes, where you may be prohibited from living near schools, playgrounds, or other places where children gather.
  • Child custody challenges. If you're in jail, you can't care for your kids. And if you're a single parent in jail and there are no close relatives to help out, your children may end up in foster care. Even where there is another caregiver available, your conviction could be used against you if there is ever a custody dispute.

Types of Crimes in New Jersey

Instead of the usual “misdemeanors” or “felonies” you see on crime shows, New Jersey classifies crimes as either “disorderly persons” offenses or “indictable” offenses.

Disorderly Persons Offenses

Disorderly persons offenses are similar to misdemeanors in many other states. These are generally more minor offenses with lower penalties and are considered less serious than indictable offenses. Some disorderly persons offenses in New Jersey are:

  • Resisting arrest
  • Harassment
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Simple assault
  • Shoplifting (under $200)
  • Writing bad checks

If you've been charged with a disorderly persons offense in Somerset County, you will eventually have to appear in the Municipal Court for the particular town or borough where your alleged crime occurred, whether that's in Bedminster, Somerset, Bridgewater, Raritan, or another borough or town.

Sentences for the majority of disorderly persons offenses are relatively mild and can include some or all of probation, community service, and fines, especially if this is your first offense. Things can get worse, however, with fines in some cases ranging up to $1000 and jail sentences of up to six months. An experienced criminal law attorney by your side can help if you are convicted to reduce the penalties you have to face, and, in some cases, your attorney may be able to have some or all of the charges against you dismissed.

Indictable Offenses

In New Jersey, if a prosecutor wants to charge you with one of the more serious types of crimes called indictable offenses, the prosecutor needs to bring the case before a grand jury and secure an indictment against you. Some examples of indictable offenses in New Jersey are:

  • Kidnapping
  • Sexual assault/rape
  • Manslaughter
  • Homicide
  • Marijuana possession (more than 6 ounces)
  • Drug distribution
  • Unlawful possession of a weapon
  • Aggravated assault
  • Armed robbery
  • Burglary
  • Lewdness
  • Forgery

There are four levels of indictable offenses, called Fourth, Third, Second, and First Degree crimes, with a First Degree indictable offense being the most serious. Penalties for any of the indictable offenses are severe, ranging from up to 18 months in prison and $10,000 in fines for a Fourth Degree offense to up to life in prison and fines up to $200,000 for a First Degree offense.

Courts in Somerset County, New Jersey

The four levels of courts that deal with criminal cases in New Jersey are Municipal, Superior, Appellate, and Supreme. If charged with a crime in Somerset County, you will likely begin at the Municipal Court level, even if only for preliminary matters.

Municipal Courts in Somerset County

Municipal Courts deal with almost all of the more minor offenses, from traffic tickets to disorderly persons offenses. They do not have jury trials; instead, the cases are tried by a judge, who will review the evidence from both sides, hear arguments, and issue a ruling. If the judge's ruling is a conviction, the judge will also direct what the sentence will be. And while the Municipal Courts do not try indictable offense cases, they will hold preliminary hearings for those types of cases to decide whether the case should advance to trial.

Somerset County is served by 21 Municipal Court locations. Note that some jurisdictions share the same court location:

Bedminster Township Municipal Court

45 Miller Lane

Bedminster, NJ 07921

Phone: 908-212-7020

Bernards Township Municipal Court

45 Miller Lane

Bedminster, NJ 07921

Phone: 908-212-7020

Bernardsville Borough Court

45 Miller Lane

Bedminster, NJ 07921

Phone: 908-212-7020

Bound Brook Municipal Court

230 Hamilton Street

Bound Brook, NJ 08805

Phone: 732-356-0833

Branchburg Township Municipal Court

1077 Route 202 North

Branchburg, NJ 08876

Phone: 908-526-1300

Bridgewater Township Court

100 Commons Way

Bridgewater, NJ 08807

Phone: 908-725-6375

Far Hills Borough Municipal Court

6 Prospect Street

Far Hills, NJ 07931

Phone: 908-781-1911

Franklin Township Municipal Court

495 Demott Lane

Somerset, NJ 08873

Phone: 732-873-7285

Greenbrook Township Municipal Court

111 Greenbrook Road

Green Brook, NJ 08812

Phone: 732-968-1110

Hillsborough Township Municipal Court

379 South Branch Road

Hillsborough, NJ 08844

Phone: 908-369-3532

Manville Borough Municipal Court

379 South Branch Road

Hillsborough, NJ 08844

Phone: 908-369-3532

Millstone Borough Municipal Court

495 Demott Lane

Somerset, NJ 08873

Phone: 732-873-7285

Montgomery Township Municipal Court

379 South Branch Road

Hillsborough, NJ 08844

Phone: 908-369-3532

North Plainfield Municipal Court

263 Somerset Street

No Plainfield, NJ 07060

Phone: 908-769-2265

Peapack Gladstone Municipal Court

45 Miller Lane

Bedminster, NJ 07921

Phone: 908-212-7020

Raritan Borough Municipal Court

22 First Street

Raritan, NJ 08869

Phone: 908-231-1303

Rocky Hill Borough Municipal Court

15 Montgomery Avenue

Rocky Hill, NJ 08553

Phone: 609-924-7943

Somerville Municipal Court

100 Commons Way

Bridgewater, NJ 08807

Phone: 908-725-6375

South Bound Brook Municipal Court

12 Main Street

S Bound Brook, NJ 08880

Phone: 732-356-0258

Warren Township Municipal Court

44 Mountain Boulevard

Warren, NJ 07059

Phone: 908-753-1225

Watchung Borough Municipal Court

263 Somerset Street

North Plainfield, NJ 07060

Phone: 908-769-2265

Superior Courts in Somerset County

Superior Courts are the ones that try the indictable offense cases, as well as family law disputes and some civil lawsuits. Indictable offense cases are tried by a jury unless the defendant requests otherwise. If charged with an indictable offense in Somerset County, the trial will be held at the Superior Court in Somerville:

Somerset County Superior Court

Somerset County Courthouse

20 North Bridge Street, Somerville, NJ 08876

Phone: 908-332-7700

Appellate Cases

If convicted of an indictable offense at the Superior Court level, you and your attorney may decide to appeal the case. These appeals are heard by the appellate division. These courts do not re-try the case; instead, they consider specific issues and arguments raised by your lawyer that could justify overturning your conviction or sending your case back to the Municipal Court for further proceedings, including possibly a new trial.

In rare cases, an appeal may next find its way to the New Jersey Supreme Court. This is New Jersey's highest court, and in most cases, it can decide whether or not it wants to hear any particular case. As a result, New Jersey's Supreme Court hears only a small fraction of the cases that ask for a hearing.

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney for Somerset County, New Jersey

If you've been accused of a crime in Somerset County, New Jersey—no matter how minor the offense—it is important that you choose an experienced and dedicated criminal defense attorney to help defend you and work to achieve the best outcome for your case. Joseph D. Lento has years of experience defending clients in Somerset County courtrooms. He understands how the courts, the prosecutors, and the judges work, and he will position your defense for the best possible outcome. Don't take chances with your future; hire an attorney with the experience and dedication to provide you with the best chance of success in your case. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 or through our contact form today to learn more about how we can help.

​​​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.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.