What to do about Criminal and Motor Vehicle Charges after being Pulled over in NJ
A significant number of criminal cases in New Jersey stem from what can only be classified as a routine traffic stop. The vast majority of the criminal charges that stem from a traffic stop derive from a search of the motor vehicle, whether that be a search based on probable cause or a search based on the plain view doctrine. Some of the most common criminal charges that we see stem from this type of search include possession of drugs, unlawful possession of a handgun, receiving stolen property and possession of CDS with the intent to distribute. Another common scenario where we see a routine traffic stop turn into criminal charges is when the driver, for whatever reason, decides to take off and attempt to elude the stop. Normally under this scenario, we see our clients being charged with eluding, assault by auto, resisting arrest, driving while intoxicated and driving while suspended. When either of these scenarios occurs, it clearly makes a bad situation far worse. It quickly takes a case that at best would end in a fine and maybe some motor vehicle points to a case that could land an individual behind bars for decades. If you or a loved one has found themselves in this unfortunate situation in Monmouth County or somewhere else in New Jersey, we strongly urge that you consult with an experienced attorney. Cases like these tend to give an experienced defense attorney was to challenge the charges, whether it be attacking the underlying basis for the stop, the probable cause for the search or the unlawfulness of the interrogation that leads to incriminating statements. Here is some helpful information on what to do when a routine traffic stop leads to serious criminal charges.
Traffic Court vs. County Court if Charged Criminally at a New Jersey Traffic Stop
In New Jersey, all traffic offenses will be litigated in the local municipal court where the incident happened. If criminal charges derive from the traffic stop, it does not automatically mean that the charges will not be litigated in the local municipal court. All disorderly persons offenses and petty disorderly persons offenses, which are considered misdemeanors, will also be litigated in the local municipal court. However, all indictable offenses, which are considered felony offenses, will need to be transferred from the local municipal court to the Monmouth County Superior Courthouse, which is located in Freehold. If this is to occur, all traffic summons must be transferred to the Superior Court as well. In other words, if criminal charges are filed alongside traffic offenses, they will never be handled separate and apart will always be handled together, with the criminal charges dictating what court has jurisdiction. Here is an example: An individual is pulled over the Garden State Parkway for speeding but a search of their motor vehicle is conducted and a firearm is discovered. The individual is ultimately charged with speeding, unlawful possession of a weapon and unlawful possession of hollow point bullets. The individual’s entire case must be transferred from the Holmdel Township Municipal Court to the Monmouth County Superior Court.
Ways to Challenge Criminal Charges Based on Traffic Stop in NJ
One of the main ways that a police officer will seek to justify a search of a motor vehicle that uncovers contraband, which leads to criminal charges being filed, is to assert that they had probable cause. Therefore, one of the key ways to challenge criminal charges that derive from a motor vehicle search, is to file what is known as a Motion to Suppress based on an unlawful search. In doing so, you will be challenging whether or not the officer actually had probable cause to justify the search. If successful, and the motion is granted, it would more likely than not lead to a suppression of the evidence. If this is to occur, it could lead to a dismissal of the charges.
Another way to challenge a search of a motor vehicle where an incriminating statement leads to the probable cause that justifies the search, is to file a Motion to Suppress based on a Miranda Violation. During this motion you will be arguing that the statement was in violation of Miranda and that the evidence derived from the unlawful statement must be suppressed based on the fruits of the poisons tree doctrine. If successful during this motion, it could lead to a suppression of the contraband that forms the basis of the criminal charges, which could ultimately leads to a dismissal of the case. Our office was just able to secure a dismissal of indictment based on this fact scenario, for more information of this case, please click here.
Can the Police Really Bring a K9 to Help Search a Car?
During a routine traffic stop, a police officer can request that a K9 do a sniff of the exterior of the motor vehicle provided that the sniff does not prolong the stop any longer than it would to issue the traffic summons. If the K9 alerts, it could give the officer the probable cause that they need to justify the search. However, if the officer develops what is known as reasonable articulable suspicion that either a crime is being committed or that contraband would be located inside the vehicle, the officer could request a K9 even if it extends beyond the time to issue a traffic summons. Similarly, if the K9 alerts, it could give the officer the probable cause needed to conduct a search. When these types of scenarios occur, the key to defending these cases is to attack the specific facts used to justify the reasonable articulable suspicion and the duration of the stop. Not all towns have access to a K9, so when this fact scenario occurs, it will typically require them to use the assistance of another police force, which certainly will lead to an increase in the duration of the stop.
Most Common Criminal Charges that Derive from Motor Vehicle Stops in New Jersey
There are countless criminal charges that can derive from a routine motor vehicle stop. However, there a few crimes that we see being issued more often than others and they are as follows:
- Indictable Offenses:
- Disorderly Persons Offenses:
- Obstruction of Law
- Hindering Apprehension
- Resisting Arrest
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
- DWI & DUI (Traffic)
- Driving While Suspended (Traffic)
Can the Police Impound My Car Based on Criminal Charges?
It is very common for the police to impound the motor vehicle if the driver is arrested following a routine traffic stop. This occurs regardless of the severity of the charges. If the car is simple impounded, then the individual would be eligible to go to the impound lot, pay the fee and retrieve the motor vehicle. However, if the charges are for something like possession of CDS with the intent to distribute, that would allow for the prosecution to file a motion to seize and subsequently forfeit it, then the individual would need to challenge the motion in Court and not be able to pick it up from the impound lot.
Local Attorneys Defending Clients Arrested at a Traffic Stop in Monmouth County NJ
Keith Oliver Criminal Law is a Monmouth County based criminal defense firm that has been representing those accused of serious crimes in Courts throughout the County for over a decade. Our attorneys are well aware of what a criminal conviction, let alone a lengthy stay at a New Jersey State Prison can do to an individual’s life. As such, our lawyers are dedicated to aggressively defending the allegations levied against our clients in an effort to put them in the best possible situation. We serve all of Monmouth County, including towns like Middletown, Hazlet, Freehold, Long Branch, Wall Township, Ocean Township, Asbury Park, Tinton Falls and Eatontown. If you would like to schedule a free initial consultation today, please contact our office at 732.858.6959 or you can try contacting us online.