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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 23202
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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My name is***** nephew was arrested jacking

Customer Question

My name is***** nephew was arrested for car jacking supposedly. However, he has never been arrested for carjacking on his entire life. East orange, NJ police arrested hom in East Orange and turned him over to Newark police were the carjacking supposedly took place. His lawyer has never spoken to him about the case but she wants him to plead guilty to stolen goods. My questiom is how can you arrest someone who wad not at the scene of the crime? Also, the person the car belonged to originally stated that my nephew did not carjack is car. East Orange police then spoke with the car owner again and he recanted his statement. My nephew's public defender wants him to plead guilty and be out of her hair. What can I do to help him?
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 6 months ago.
Hello, I am sorry to hear about your son. There is a very big difference in what the state needs in order to make an arrest and what they need in order to get a conviction. To get an arrest, the amount of evidence is very, very low. All the police need is something called probable cause, which is just a reasonable belief that your son may have committed the crime. As the case goes on, he will be able to see the discovery that the prosecutor has. I cannot tell you how they were able to arrest him. It's possible, for example, that he was identified by someone. Or there may have been fingerprints or other forensic evidence against him. However, I can tell you that someone does not have to be found at the scene of a crime in order to be arrested for that crime. He doesn't even have to be arrested the same day. He'll be able to challenge whatever evidence the state has if he wants to go to trial on the case. It is the job of every defense lawyer to convey every offer that the prosecutor wants to make and to explain the up and down sides of taking that offer. A lawyer must also let his client know exactly what he's likely risking if he turns the offer down and help his client to see the strengths and weaknesses of the state's case against him so that his client can make an intelligent decision on the course of his case. That news isn't often good, with criminal cases. And the client frequently feels pressed to choose between two unpleasant alternatives. His lawyer may also say that a plea would be in his best interest if that is his professional opinion about the case. HOWEVER, the choice of whether to accept an offer or to fight the case all the way to trial if need be is entirely the defendant's choice.. Once he makes that choice and chooses trial, his lawyer is professionally obligated to mount the best possible defense of which he is able. So, to recap, nobody can make your son take a plea. He has an absolute right to go to trial if that's what he wants. If he feels that his public defender isn't helping him, most public defenders work for defender organizations and have supervisors. He can call his public defender's boss and complain that his lawyer doesn't seem to care about his case. His boss will talk to his lawyer and frequently that will make a big difference in the lawyer's attitude. If that doesn't work, your son could let the judge know that he has problems communicating with his public defender and that his attorney doesn't seem to be working in his best interest. He can ask the judge to relieve his lawyer and appoint him a new public defender. Generally, when there's a bad fit between lawyer and client a judge will agree to make one substitution of assigned counsel. The biggest problem with public defenders is that you don't get to pick which one you want, and like the lawyers in any private law firm, some are much better than others. So, as far as what you can do, if you and your son want to ensure who gets to handle your son's case, retaining a private lawyer would be the answer.