Specific Criminal Offenses


People Frequently ask why is Something a “Crime”?

Simply put, a given act or set of actions is a crime because a statute says so. Either Congress or a state legislature has decided that certain activities are criminal in nature and must be prosecuted in a criminal court, and have enacted a statute making the conduct in question a crime.

Oftentimes, Congress and the states will determine that a particular activity should be criminalized, but will define the crime differently in their respective statutes. This means that what is necessary to prove that the crime occurred will vary with whether the prosecution is being handled on the federal or state level.

Federal and state courts also have very different sentencing criteria. If the court hearing the case ultimately determines that a crime was committed, either by way of guilty plea or trial, any sentence imposed can vary dramatically between federal and state court, even if the crime is defined similarly on both levels. Generally speaking, state criminal statutes set the sentences for state crimes. On the federal level, however, sentences are determined both by statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

Further, certain crimes can frequently be prosecuted in either federal or state court, but may “go federal” because of a paramount federal interest in that type of case. A good example of this is bank robbery which, as a general matter, can be prosecuted in either federal or state court, but is almost always handled at the federal level.

Additionally, the states will often decide to criminalize certain conduct while Congress remains silent on the same issue. This occurs when the state governments have a strong interest in a given area, but the federal government does not. As to these crimes, there will be a state-level criminal statute but no federal analog. A prosecution for such a crime will occur in state court.

Finally, different states may also criminalize the same conduct, but the evidence required to prove the crime occurred, as well as any sentence ultimately imposed, can vary from state to state, even for what appears to be the same activity. This is because criminal statutes – even those that address the same or similar activity – can differ from state to state.

Sound confusing? It really is not. Rather, it all boils down to three basic questions:

  1. What court is hearing the case?
  2. What does the applicable statute in that jurisdiction say about the relevant conduct?
  3. What sentences can be imposed in the event of a conviction?

A seasoned New Jersey criminal defense lawyer will understand these issues, and know how to use the statutory distinctions and differences in procedural rules to their client's advantage.

We represent defendants charged with the following offenses in federal and state courts throughout New Jersey and New York City:

We are New Jersey criminal defense attorneys with offices centrally located in New Brunswick, New Jersey. If you have been charged with a crime in the Superior Court of New Jersey, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, or any municipal court in New Jersey, do not speak to the police or prosecutors, except to state very clearly that you want a New Jersey criminal lawyer. Then, contact us to learn about your options, and to start building your defense.

Client Reviews
"I hired Mr. Friedman to represent my son in a criminal matter that could have landed him in jail. Nobody in our family had ever been involved with the criminal justice system before, so this was all very new to us. He was very patient, answered all of our questions, and made sure we understood everything each step of the way. By the time the case was over, my son had a reduced charge for which he only had to pay some fines." Anonymous
"Mr. Friedman represented me when I was one of several students caught with drugs in a college dorm room. I was set to graduate at the end of the semester, and thought this case would ruin my life. He got my charges dismissed, and the record expunged. This lawyer was a total lifesaver!" Anonymous
"Our daughter has mental health issues. She got into a scuffle with the police and was charged with assaulting an officer. Our attorney, Jim Friedman, was able to show the prosecutor and Judge that the real problem here was her mental stability. She was placed on probation and avoided jail time. Most other lawyers we spoke to refused to take this case, but Jim Friedman took it and got us a great result. Thank you Mr. Friedman!" Anonymous
"I had federal criminal charges and felt totally lost. I was one of who knows how many defendants in this case, and I read on the Internet that almost everyone in federal court end up with a prison sentence, so I was really scared. My first lawyer, who told me that I would probably spend at least some time in prison, barely gave me the time of day after I paid him. Then I hired Jim Friedman to represent me. He stayed with me throughout the entire process. He was always available to answer my questions, and never let me lose hope. He negotiated aggressively with the federal prosecutor and I ended up with a short term of probation. I knew I would get convicted of something, but this lawyer kept me out of jail." Anonymous
"The only part of my trial that was better than watching Mr. Friedman question the witnesses was when the jury came out and said “not guilty” over and over again. You have to see this lawyer in court!" Anonymous