New Jersey Criminal Defense & Veteran Lawyer
Advice and Representation From a Veteran and Experienced Team
You are not alone. We can do for you what we have done for our past and current clients and make you and your case a part of our squad. No one is left behind. A criminal arrest is a traumatic experience but it is not the end. It is only the beginning of the process and we can ensure that a bad can be turned into a good, when at all possible. We provide the support and answers to your questions. Whatever it takes. Because a conviction can wreak havoc on your personal and professional life and lead to costly fines, we find the best way to avoid such an outcome. Since incarceration can be a legitimate concern and many States have foolishly eliminated the Constitutional right to bail, you may even be held in pretrial detention.
Our New Jersey criminal lawyers can provide relief. Some people lose their jobs, their driver’s license or professional license, and their standing in the community. We will assist you in the effort to keep your family intact and keep your life together.
Veterans and those still serving in the military can rely on us to provide the best advice on how to preserve and maximize your benefits and military career.
As a person charged with a crime, you have constitutional rights to protect you from government overreach and assure that you are treated fairly. However, no one on the government side will be assigned to secure your rights for you; they will simply do their job and you need a zealous advocate to look out for you. At Citizen Soldier Law, you’ll find a former Union and Essex County Assistant Prosecutor and retired military Judge Advocate lawyers dedicated to protecting your rights and looking out for your best interests.
The experience you need when your liberty is at stake
As an Assistant Prosecutor in Union County and Essex County, Thomas Roughneen prosecuted crimes ranging from juvenile and municipal offenses to violent crimes, drug crimes, sexual assault and more. As a Judge Advocate General in Fort Dix and Germany, then-Judge Advocate Roughneen handled court-martial cases from fraud to sex offenses. Roughneen has successfully prosecuted and defended homicide matters. More importantly, as a JAG and as a lawyer in private practice, Thomas Roughneen has defended active-duty servicemembers, veterans, New Jersey National Guard Members, Reservists and others charged with New Jersey and federal offenses. Get the advice and representation you need from a seasoned criminal defense attorney certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey in criminal trial law.
What does it mean to be Board Certified in Criminal Trial Law?
The Supreme Court of New Jersey, Board on Attorney Certification, selects attorneys in five specialty areas, including criminal trial law. Only attorneys with the requisite trial experience, education, knowledge and skill can obtain Board Certification. The process involves passing a rigorous written examination in the attorney’s area of specialty. Additionally, Board Certification demonstrates a recognition of the lawyer’s skills and reputation in the specialty area by the lawyer’s peers. The attorney must have an unblemished reputation for both character and legal ability, as attested by attorneys and judges who know and work with the attorney in practice.
What is the New Jersey Veterans Criminal Diversion Program?
Rarely is a veteran a criminal. Who can successfully deliver this message to a non-veteran Prosecutor or District Attorney’s Office? You need someone conversant in military matters. Someone who has been in a combat zone can provide invaluable perspective. Veterans Criminal Diversion Programs were signed into law in 2017 in recognition of the fact that some servicemembers may suffer from mental illness (PTSD, depression, adjustment disorders) or substance abuse/addiction, which at some point puts them into contact with the criminal justice system. Rather than run these persons through the criminal justice system, the veterans diversion program offers an alternative path. The goal of diversion is for the accused to get help resolving the underlying issues that led to or contributed to the individual’s involvement with the criminal justice system.
Who is eligible for Veterans Criminal Diversion? The program is open to military servicemembers (active-duty military, veterans, National Guard, Reserve) who have been diagnosed with mental illness or have displayed symptoms of mental illness to law enforcement officers, prosecutors, or friends or family who bring these facts to the prosecutor’s attention.
What offenses are eligible for diversion? Eligible offenses include a non-violent petty disorderly persons offense, a disorderly persons offense, or a third-degree or fourth-degree crime, as defined under New Jersey law. Shoplifting, trespassing, and simple drug possession are examples of eligible offenses. However, your military service may prove to be compelling for different diversion programs even if your charge is not one of those specified in the statute.
How does diversion work? Rather than putting you through a criminal trial, the judge orders you to a period of “supervision,” which may last anywhere from six months to two years. During that time, you need to avoid getting arrested, participate in your case management and any required treatment, abstain from drugs or alcohol, refrain from possessing any firearms, and pay restitution or keep away from the victim if required. At the end of the probation period, the charges against you are dismissed. You can also apply to have the arrest and charge expunged from your record.
How do I get into the diversion program? You have to go through the prosecutor in charge of your case; it is the County Prosecutor who decides who gets into the program and how long they stay in. Some of the factors which will determine your suitability for the program include:
- The nature of the offense you are charged with
- The relationship between the offense and your mental illness or substance abuse problem
- Your amenability to participate in the program
- Any expressed wishes of the victim
- Your criminal history (prior arrests will not automatically exclude you from the program)
Are there any downsides to diversion? One thing to keep in mind is that accepting diversion or any plea involving probation usually involves specific responsibilities. If you violate the terms of the program, such as by getting arrested or failing to complete treatment, you could be sentenced without any benefit of the diversion. However, diversion is often an excellent result in most situations, but it is not one to be entered into blindly. We’ll evaluate all of your options and advise you accordingly. If we feel you are a good candidate for diversion, we’ll put all our resources into building a strong case for the prosecutor to accept you into the program. If you are better served by fighting your arrest in court, you’ll find a strong and effective advocate on your side at Citizen Soldier Law.
Military & Veteran DWI Lawyer
We help active military & veterans with any type of criminal charge. If you happen to find yourself in a DWI situation, do not hesitate to give us a call. Our military & veteran DWI lawyers will work every angle we can to help your case. We have decades of experience in military & veteran DWI charges and know the steps to take.
Advice and Representation
For help after an arrest in New Jersey, or to learn how to steer clear of the law in an unclear area, call us. Whether you are National Guard, Reserve, active-duty military, a veteran, or a private citizen charged with a drug crime, robbery, assault or other major or minor charges, call Citizen Soldier Law for a strong defense, fair treatment, and the opportunity for a positive outcome in your case.