First, the most important is your right to remain silent. In spite of any promises, guarantees or other statements that the police officer might make regarding the incident for which you have been arrested, he is not your friend. His job is to arrest people and make sure that a conviction results from his arrest. After all the police officer will never admit that he arrested the wrong guy or made a mistake, if he did this more than once, he would lose his job, or at a minimum probably be suspended or disciplined . Being a police officer is a highly lucrative job which requires little education, and except for the rare officer, the law enforcement officer that arrested you will never, and I repeat never admit to making a mistake. Therefore, you have nothing to gain and everything to lose when you waive your constitutional right to remain silent before you speak to a competent and experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney.
Second, even if you have given a statement admitting to the crime or disorderly person’s offense there still might be legal grounds to suppress that statement. Cops have been known do almost anything to obtain a confession. After all, what is more convincing to a judge or jury than a confession to the crime? It makes the investigating officers heroes, crime fighters on the white horse beating down and locking up the bad guys. But in truth cops are humans and make mistakes all the time, they are not bestowed with some special gift from God after they graduate from the police academy for the discernment of truth or justice. Arrests and convictions in truth brings them more overtime, promotions and pats on their back from fellow officers, and/or the glee of pandering news headlines. Of course even in law enforcement there are some God fearing, compassionate, and fair police officers, but these are the ones that after 20 years are still walking the beat and are shunned by the other officers who them because they are not part of the game plan.
Third, never give consent to search any of your property, either it be your person’s, luggage, bags, motor vehicle, or personal dwelling. If they have probable cause they will make the proper application to a judicial magistrate. Chances are the magistrate will grant their search warrant, but sometimes, for many reasons, the judicial magistrate will deny the application. Under the Fourth Amendment they must obtain a court order to search your property, or get your consent. Never give consent. Of course they will threaten you by telling you they will tear your house apart if they have to get a search warrant. Tell them so what and do not consent. Because whether they get your consent or not they will do everything they can to tear your house up. Note also, in the smaller cases, they will only threaten to get a warrant hoping that they have tricked you in consenting. In handling hundreds of criminal cases and reading thousands of police reports, it is my experience that in those cases the majority of the time if you do not give consent the police officer will not even bother requesting a judicial warrant.
Fourth, even if you have given them consent there might be a number of legal issues in how they obtained consent which might require that the court throw out any evidence obtained in violation of your constitutional rights and how consent was obtained. In many cases I have been able to have evidence suppressed in cases in which consent to search was given by the defendant.
Fifth, if you are arrested, and bail is set, it is often better to wait in jail a few days or longer until the initial bail is lower by a judge. Therefore, in some cases it is wise to hire a retainer to file an application for a bail reduction with the Superior Court Judge. It the majority of cases this is usually successful. In many cases the police will set bail at a high amount, and to post it with cash or a bail bondsman is a waste of valuable financial resources which are better spent in retaining an experienced NJ criminal defense attorney. In reality the cost of good defense is not inexpensive.
Lastly, when selecting an attorney you should select an attorney with proven years of experienced. Also, when you retain an attorney you should be careful that the attorney that you retain will actual be handling your case. All too often when it is to late I hear complaints from defendants who tell me that they hired such and such attorney, only to learn that his or her case was handled by an associate with little or no experience right out of law school. When you retain my legal services I will handle you case from start to finish and I do not delegate any of the legal work including trial to anyone else but me. A big law firm with a fancy website means nothing. Look for someone who you feel comfortable with and will listen to you. Most good experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorneys will charge for an initial consultation fee. In most cases that initial consultation fee is worth ever penny; do not be swayed by inexperienced new attorneys whom advertise free consultations.
Selecting your criminal defense attorney is an important decision, consider it carefully, and I hope that you obtain the best criminal defense possible.