New Law Permits Court to Refrain from Imposing Drivers License Suspension on Defendant Convicted of Drug Offense if Compelling Circumstances Exist

Kenneth Vercammen's Law office represents individuals charged with criminal and serious traffic violations throughout New Jersey.

Under New Jersey law, the court must order every person convicted of an offense concerning controlled dangerous substances or drug paraphernalia, as set out in chapters 35 and 36 of the Criminal Code, to forfeit his or her driving privileges for a period of six months to two years. In cases involving juveniles under the age of 17, the period of suspension ordered by the court begins after the day the juvenile reaches age 17.

A new law in 2006 S-2517/A-878 allows the court to refrain from imposing the driver's license suspension under certain circumstances. As a condition of receipt of certain federal funds, federal law (set out in 23 U.S.C.A. ยง159) requires each state to comply with one of the following three options: (1) the state must require driver's license suspension for CDS offenses in all cases (as does current New Jersey law); or (2) the state must require drivers' license suspension for CDS offenses unless there are "compelling circumstances warranting an exception"; or (3) the state's Governor must submit two certifications to the federal Secretary of Transportation: one stating that the Governor is opposed to the enactment or enforcement in the state of a law requiring drivers' license suspensions for convicted drug offenders; and one stating that the legislature (including both Houses where applicable) has adopted a resolution expressing its opposition to such a law. This bill conforms to alternative (2) of the federal statute. Under the bill, the court will not order a driver's license suspension for a person convicted of a drug offense if the court finds "compelling circumstances warranting an exception." For purposes of the bill, compelling circumstances warranting an exception exist if the forfeiture of the person's right to operate a motor vehicle will result in extreme hardship and alternative means of transportation are not available. The committee amendments were proposed by the Commission to Review Criminal Sentencing established by P.L. 2003, c.265. These amendments provide that a person, at any time after sentencing and upon notice to the prosecutor, may make an application to the court to restore his right to operate a motor vehicle if the application is based upon new evidence or new information which demonstrates compelling circumstances warranting an exception. For example, a person may be sentenced to forfeit his driving privileges for two years. After serving one year of that sentence he may relocate and alternative means of transportation may no longer be available near his new residence. Under the amendments that person may apply to the court for reconsideration of his loss of driving privileges given the new information bearing on this matter. Kenneth Vercammen & Associates Law Office represents people injured in accidents or charged with criminal offenses. We provide representation throughout New Jersey. Don't give up! Our Law Office can provide experienced attorney representation for most cases. Our website njlaws.com provides information on personal injury and criminal cases.

KENNETH VERCAMMEN & ASSOCIATES, PC ATTORNEY AT LAW 2053 Woodbridge Ave. Edison, NJ 08817 (Phone) 732-572-0500 (Fax) 732-572-0030

TRIAL AND LITIGATION EXPERIENCE In his private practice, he has devoted a substantial portion of his professional time to the preparation and trial of litigated matters. He appears in Courts throughout New Jersey several times each week on many personal injury matters, Criminal and Municipal/ traffic Court trials, Probate hearings, and contested administrative law hearings.

Mr. Vercammen served as the Prosecutor for the Township of Cranbury, Middlesex County and was involved in trials on a weekly basis. He also argued all pre-trial motions and post-trial applications on behalf of the State of New Jersey.

He has also served as a Special Acting Prosecutor in Woodbridge, Perth Amboy, Berkeley Heights, Carteret, East Brunswick, Jamesburg, South Brunswick, South River and South Plainfield for conflict cases. Since 1989, he has personally handled hundreds of criminal and motor vehicle matters as a Prosecutor and now as defense counsel and has had substantial success.

Previously, Mr. Vercammen was Public Defender for the Township of Edison and Borough of Metuchen and a Designated Counsel for the Middlesex County Public Defender's Office. He represented indigent individuals facing consequences of magnitude. He was in Court trying cases and making motions in difficult criminal and DWI matters. Every case he personally handled and prepared.

His resume sets forth the numerous bar associations and activities which demonstrate his commitment to the legal profession and providing quality representation to clients.

Since 1985, his primary concentration has been on litigation matters. Mr. Vercammen gained other legal experiences as the Confidential Law Clerk to the Court of Appeals of Maryland (Supreme Court) with the Delaware County, PA District Attorney Office handling Probable Cause Hearings, Middlesex County Probation Department as a Probation Officer, and an Executive Assistant to Scranton District Magistrate, Thomas Hart, in Scranton, PA.

Consequences of a Criminal Guilty Plea

  1. You will have to appear in open court and tell the judge what you did that makes you guilty of the particular offense(s)

  2. Do you understand that if you plead guilty:

a. You will have a criminal record

b. You may go to Jail or Prison.

c. You will have to pay Fines and Court Costs.

  1. If you are on Probation, you will have to submit to random drug and urine testing. If you violate Probation, you often go to jail.

  2. In indictable matters, you will be required to provide a DNA sample, which could be used by law enforcement for the investigation of criminal activity, and pay for the cost of testing.

  3. You must pay restitution if the court finds there is a victim who has suffered a loss and if the court finds that you are able or will be able in the future to pay restitution.

  4. If you are a public office holder or employee, you can be required to forfeit your office or job by virtue of your plea of guilty.

  5. If you are not a United States citizen or national, you may be deported by virtue of your plea of guilty.

  6. You must wait 5-10 years to expunge a first offense. 2C:52-3

  7. You could be put on Probation.

  8. In Drug Cases, a mandatory DEDR penalty of $500-$1,000, and lose your driver's license for 6 months - 2years. You must pay a Law Enforcement Officers Training and Equipment Fund penalty of $30.

  9. You may be required to do Community Service.

  10. You must pay a minimum Violent Crimes Compensation Board assessment of $50 ($100 minimum if you are convicted of a crime of violence) for each count to which you plead guilty.

  11. You must pay a $75 Safe Neighborhood Services Fund assessment for each conviction.

  12. If you are being sentenced to probation, you must pay a fee of up to $25 per month for the term of probation.

  13. You lose the presumption against incarceration in future cases. 2C:44-1

  14. You may lose your right to vote.

The defense of a person charged with a criminal offense is not impossible. There are a number of viable defenses and arguments which can be pursued to achieve a successful result. Advocacy, commitment, and persistence are essential to defending a client accused of a criminal offense.

Jail for Crimes and Disorderly Conduct:

If someone pleads Guilty or is found Guilty of a criminal offense, the following is the statutory Prison/Jail terms.

NJSA 2C: 43-8 (1) In the case of a crime of the first degree, for a specific term of years which shall be fixed by the court and shall be between 10 years and 20 years;

(2) In the case of a crime of the second degree, for a specific term of years which shall be fixed by the court and shall be between five years and 10 years;

(3) In the case of a crime of the third degree, for a specific term of years which shall be fixed by the court and shall be between three years and five years;

(4) In the case of a crime of the fourth degree, for a specific term which shall be fixed by the court and shall not exceed 18 months.

2C:43-3 Fines have been increased recently! 2C:43-3. Fines and Restitutions. A person who has been convicted of an offense may be sentenced to pay a fine, to make restitution, or both, such fine not to exceed:

a. (1) $200,000.00 when the conviction is of a crime of the first degree;

(2) $150,000.00 when the conviction is of a crime of the second degree;

b. (1) $15,000.00 when the conviction is of a crime of the third degree;

(2) $10,000.00 when the conviction is of a crime of the fourth degree;

c. $1,000.00, when the conviction is of a disorderly persons offense;

d. $500.00, when the conviction is of a petty disorderly persons offense;

If facing any criminal charge, retain an experienced attorney immediately to determine you rights and obligations to the court. Current criminal charge researched by Kenneth Vercammen, Esq. 732-572-0500