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New Jersey Legal Blog

Miranda rights: More than the right to remain silent

"You have the right to remain silent." For many people in New Jersey, this is a familiar phrase. Even if people have not encountered it through their own experiences, they have heard these warnings on a police drama on television. However, people may not consider just how important the Miranda rights can be until they or a loved one face charges in a criminal case. The Miranda rights take their name from a 1966 Supreme Court case that affirmed the obligation of police to provide information to people they arrest about their rights under the Fifth Amendment, which protects people against self-incrimination.

When people are arrested, police must inform them of their right to remain silent, that their statements can be used against them in court, of their right to a lawyer and that one can be appointed if they cannot afford to pay. While the form of the Miranda warnings may seem almost rote due to their pop-culture familiarity, they speak to fundamental principles that any person facing criminal charges may benefit from keeping in mind. People are not required to talk to the police and they can ask for a lawyer instead, no matter what police interrogators may tell them later on.

Mourning and rebuilding after divorce

Going through a divorce in New Jersey can be one of the most stressful experiences in a person's life. It is natural and necessary to go through a period of mourning following such a significant loss, but the exact timeline and length of the mourning period can vary from case to case. Generally speaking, though, people will go through the same steps. The steps are acceptance, mourning, reinvention, goal setting and career protection.

Acceptance of the divorce as a real thing is a necessary step in the process of going through and recovering from divorce. It can be easy to get stuck in the past, especially if the person didn't want the divorce to happen. Mourning means taking the time a person needs to grieve over the loss. This might mean feeling difficult emotions like sadness, exhaustion or anger. Once the person has moved through the period of mourning, he or she can begin self-reinvention.

Going through a high-asset divorce in New Jersey

Spouses who have been married many years or who have a high income usually face high-asset divorce. High-asset divorces are typically more complex because they involve the division of significant amounts of assets that may be difficult to manage. This can lead to conflicts and litigation. For example, a high-asset couple may need to divide a business or several vacation homes.

If you have already filed for divorce as a spouse with a high number of assets, or if you are worried about filing for divorce because you are unsure of the financial implications, you must take action to understand the law and how it will likely affect you. The following are some common mistakes made in New Jersey high-asset divorces that you should try to avoid.

Unproven investigative technique used widely by police

Many New Jersey residents may expect police investigations to be like those often portrayed in movies and TV dramas, focused on accuracy and taking advantage of the latest advanced scientific techniques. Unfortunately, however, some investigations and forensic techniques are fraught with pseudoscience and questionable tactics that allow police to go after a suspect they have already decided is guilty, regardless of the potential of a different perpetrator or the original suspect's innocence. Many techniques used by police, despite being taught in classes paid for by police departments around the world, are scientifically unproven and highly unreliable.

One of these techniques is called Scientific Content Analysis, or SCAN. The creator of the program argues that it can make investigators into "human polygraphs" determining whether or not a suspect is responsible for a crime during an interrogation. The basis of the technique involves asking a suspect to write out a narrative of the events surrounding the crime. After that, a police officer trained in the technique will go over the statement, looking for grammatical quirks that allegedly point to signs of deception.

Major concerns for women during divorce

The divorce process can be quite challenging, and even more so for women as many New Jersey residents have experienced. While both spouses will need to adjust to life post-divorce, women have some major concerns that need to be addressed in order to move on.

Women worry about their children during divorce. They worry how they will support, educate and take care of them. Often, this is combined with worries about where they will live with their children, if the place is safe and if they will adapt to living there. Concern for their children can be overwhelming and can take an emotional toll on all involved. However, mothers can take care of their children by keeping their teachers informed of the situation, by arranging for a professional such as a therapist to speak with their children and by involving the children in the transition process.

The importance of communication when co-parenting

There are many reasons why New Jersey couples seek marital dissolution. Despite the difficulties and uncertainties during the divorce process, the end result is a new life for both, and this generally is a good thing. For ex-couples who also have children together, however, their new lives are inevitably and inextricably intertwined. If they can maintain a cordial relationship, co-parenting will be much easier. Unfortunately, some relationships deteriorate to the point of toxicity or outright hostility.

If lines of communication remain between the parents remain open and viable, the differences can be worked out to stabilize and keep the kids' development on a positive track. In some cases, however, one parent may act completely unreasonably while the other is at wit's end in trying to figure out how to respond. There are two standards never to lose sight of when trying to deal with an out of control ex.

Investigation finds breath tests are unreliable

Judges in New Jersey and Massachusetts have tossed out over 30,000 alcohol breath tests due to human error and other issues in the last year, according to a new report from the New York Times. The report's findings cast doubt on the trustworthiness of breath tests being used by law enforcement agencies throughout the United States.

During an in-depth investigation into the accuracy of breath tests, reporters from the Times spoke with over 100 police officers, attorneys, scientists and executives. In addition, they analyzed thousands of court records, emails, contracts and business documents relating to the reliability of breath tests. They discovered that multiple things can skew results from the devices, including improperly mixed chemicals, programming errors and even certain foods. For example, they found that breath mints can throw off breath test results. They also found that calibration mistakes can cause results to appear 40% higher than they actually are.

Will my prenup benefit my divorce procedure?

Many people sign prenuptial agreements when they are blissfully in love and with a conviction that they will never have to go through a divorce. They may not think in detail about how signing the documents could affect their future. All prenuptial agreements are tailored to the specific financial circumstances and preferences of the couple. Whether you will be set to benefit from the terms of your prenuptial will depend heavily on the situation.

However, before assuming that a prenuptial agreement will lead to an unfair distribution of assets, consider the ways that it could make the divorce process less expensive and less stressful, paving the way for a more positive outcome overall.

Community service sentencing can reinforce inequity

People in New Jersey often think of community service sentences as providing a win-win situation. People who are convicted of crimes, usually misdemeanors with fines attached, may be able to work through their sentence without harsh jail time or hefty fines they cannot afford. At the same time, society can benefit from their labor. However, a study released by the Labor Center and School of Law at UCLA indicates that community service sentencing does not avoid the overall inequities and problems with the criminal justice system. In particular, researchers say that people serving these sentences may suffer many of the same effects associated with heavy court debt.

Researchers noted that community service sentencing particularly affects people with low incomes and communities of color. While it is touted as a humane alternative to fines and jail time, the study said that defendants' labor is undervalued. When compared to the cost of paying the fine, people may be sentenced to work many hours to pay it off, driving down the cost of their labor per hour. In addition, the researchers said that during the study period, 2013 to 2014, people in Los Angeles County were sentenced to 8 million hours of community service. This represents work that could have been done by 4,900 paid employees, exacerbating unemployment in surrounding communities and encouraging more prosecution and dependence on community service labor.

How arrest rates are affecting younger generations

New Jersey residents may be interested in learning that about one quarter of arrests are for consuming alcohol or drugs without permission. Statistics show that 9% of arrests for men and 8% of arrests for women are connected to drugs while 11% of arrests for women and 16% of arrests for men are linked to underage drinking.

This does not mean that all arrests are for minor or nonviolent crimes. The truth is that 19% of arrests for men and 28% of arrests for women are for things like theft, robbery and assault. Other misdemeanors represent around 31% of arrests for women and 28% for men.

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