Common Questions Regarding New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyers

New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorneys

Our law firm receives hundreds of telephone calls from prospective clients every month. There is a slew of questions that are presented after their being charged with a criminal offense or serious traffic matter. Our team attempts to provide thorough legal guidance based on their vast experience, including:

  • Over 200 years in practice handling criminal charges throughout NJ
  • Serving as former county and municipal prosecutors in roles like Director of Major Crimes, Juvenile Unit, Drug Task Force, Special Operations, Homicide, Gun Task Force and even an entire Trial Division
  • Ten lawyers that dedicate their work exclusively to defending the accused
  • Certified Criminal Trial Attorneys
  • A long and extensive history of acquittals, dismissals and favorable plea agreements

The headings below are some of the more common questions posed by individuals who contact our office after being arrested or issued a complaint. If you have different questions or are interested in discussing our representation of you or a loved one, call 877-450-8301. An attorney is available 24/7 to speak to you and initial consultations are always free.


How much does a NJ criminal lawyer cost?

The range of fees charged by criminal attorneys is wide and hinges on many factors, including experience, the complexity of the case, and the anticipated legal time to bring the matter to a conclusion. Keep in mind that the prices charged by attorneys are tied to supply and demand just like

It is commonplace in NJ for criminal lawyers to charge a fixed fee; a flat amount to either fully conclude a case or handle a particular stage of the matter (e.g. pre-indictment proceedings, pretrial proceedings, etc.).  For example, it is typical for our attorneys to charge a fixed/flat fee of $3,500 to $6,000 for an indictable crime of the third or fourth degree.  If an individual is eligible for Pretrial Intervention, the fee might be lower and, conversely, the case would be more to the higher end if it involves something as complex as a sex case.  Second-degree crimes result in higher fees and even more so, first degree crimes.

When a criminal case is handled on an hourly basis, our experience is that you can expect $250-$700 being charged. Our hourly rate is $395, although we typically structure flat rates to handle a case from: (1) start to finish; (2) start to trial and then a separate fee for trial, if required; or (3) start of the case until indictment, a post-indictment fee covering the case until trial or then a separate trial fee, if required.


Do criminal lawyers in New Jersey do payment plans?

Some firms allow for payment plans in criminal cases. Typically, the firm will insist on payment of a significant portion of the fee upfront, for example, one-third to one-half. Our firm offers payment plans in most cases and structures the repayment schedule based on numerous factors tied to the perceived reliability of the guarantors.


Why would you need a NJ criminal defense lawyer?

There is an old saying “a man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client”.  This proverb was first published in 1814 and it is no accident that it has been sited millions of times since then.  A criminal attorney has not only been trained in the law and rules of evidence but is also highly familiar with the environment in which the charges will be litigated. It is illogical to assume that a layperson could achieve the same result as a highly-skilled criminal defense lawyer since neither the prosecutor nor judge are an advocate for a pro se (i.e. unrepresented) defendant. In fact, it is the job of the prosecutor to convict you. There is no doubt that you or a loved one is much better served with a talented criminal defense lawyer. This naturally assumes that you hire an accomplished attorney rather than the cheapest, someone who handles many different areas of law or who lacks the commitment to is uncommitted to fight for the very best outcome in your case.


Can I get a public defender before my court date?

You will typically be provided the opportunity to apply for a public defender at the time of your initial appearance. Eligibility hinges on the severity of the offense (i.e. it must carry consequences of magnitude) and the income of the applicant. An individual must be “indigent” in order to qualify for a public defender. Below is the 2020 Income Eligibility Table for Indigent Defense Services.

You should hire an experienced NJ Criminal Lawyer if you fail to qualify for a public defender based on limited income.


What happens if you go to court without an attorney?

When an individual does not qualify for a public defender and cannot or will not hire a private attorney, they must prepare and present their defense “pro see”.  This means that they will be serving as their own lawyer. It is important to keep in mind that you are the only individual who can act in this capacity, other than a licensed attorney, is the defendant. You should also know that rules of evidence and other procedural requirements remain in full effect despite the fact that the defendant is acting on his or her behalf.


When should I hire a NJ criminal attorney?

It is also important to hire an attorney as early in a case as possible. It is entirely possible that a charge can be avoided altogether if a lawyer is hired during the investigation phase. At a minimum, it may be possible to avoid a detention hearing and secure your release immediately at the initial appearance. Beyond avoiding an offense and ensuring your release from custody as soon as possible, early intervention by a criminal defense lawyer will allow evidence to be preserved, as well as forming a barrier between you and the law enforcement; prosecutors nor police can speak to a defendant who is represented. It also goes without saying that hiring an attorney at the outset of an investigation or an arrest provides maximum time to prepare a thorough defense.


What makes someone a good defense lawyer?

The biggest factor in what makes someone a good attorney is unquestionably experience, for example, how long have they been in practice and how relevant is that background to the type of case you are facing. You certainly wouldn’t want to hire an attorney who has never actually tried a sex crime when you are facing a sexual assault charge. It would also be advisable to attempt to secure representation from someone who has dealt with the prosecuting agency and court in the past. Unfortunately, many litigants and their families are sold by slick sales pitch when, in actuality, the attorney in question has never even completed a jury trial. This is a major issue confronted by our firm since a significant portion of what we from competitors simply is not true, namely, they have little to no actual trials although they make themself sound like an expert. Words on a website do not make an individual a “good defense lawyer”, experience is what counts.


Contact Our Accomplished NJ Criminal Lawyers For Crackerjack Guidance

There are certainly far more questions that are presented to our attorneys in consultations from time to time. We encourage you to contact the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall at 877-450-8301 to obtain answers to your questions. A member of our team is available around the clock to help. Give us a call.