Talking Criminal Law

courtroom-144091_1280There’s a lot of excitement in criminal law.  Criminal attorneys deal with all sorts of fascinating cases; some just like the ones you would see in a television drama or movie.  My recent “casual conversation” with criminal attorney Tom Martin provided a lot of great insight into running a solo criminal attorney practice.

Tom has been in solo practice for the past 13 years as a criminal attorney on the defense side. He represents individuals and adults before municipal court hearings, and also superior court hearings. Most of his clients find him through his website and other marketing efforts, but as a criminal lawyer, he receives a lot of clients from satisfied customers (word of mouth). Tom finds that working  as solo attorney allows for greater quality control over everything in terms of writing documents, letters and the calendaring. He assumes total responsibility for things going correctly and it allows him  to interact better with the clients.  There’s no go between with staff members, they can usually receive the answers the need directly from him.

Technology helps out a great deal with running a solo practice.  Everything needed can be accessed through your phone or tablet without the necessity of having to call back to an office to get details from a law clerk.


Plea Bargaining vs Trying a Case

Trying cases and plea bargaining cases is the larger part of the what Tom does. In criminal law, cases can range from drug dealing, possession of drugs and committing crimes to get drugs to other types of cases such as assaults, robbery and homicides.

  • Trying a case is where you put your faith in the jury system, where 12 members of the public decide your fate.
  • It is up to the prosecution or the state to prove you guilty as to each element of each offence.
  • If you are not happy with the plea offer you have or if you didn’t commit the offence, then that’s when you’d consider going to trial.
  • Plea-bargaining is when your defense attorney, the prosecutor, and you, in conjunction with your attorney, choose what you can live with in terms of working the case out.
  • Statically, 90-95% of cases are via plea-bargaining.

There is also a great difference in the types of courts where these crimes are tried.  Criminal Court, Quasi Criminal Court, and Superior Court 

The difference is the level of authority and jurisdiction that municipal courts have.  Municipal courts don’t have jurisdiction to handle crimes of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th degree (felonies). They only have autonomy over disorderly persons offences, which are akin to misdemeanors. The big difference is that the exposure for the same case in terms of incarceration is up to 6 months; as a result, you are only entitled to a bench trial where the judge sits as your jury.  There are no juries at a municipal level; it is the judge who will make the call. Tom believes people should be judged by a jury of their peers as the prosecutor has to then convince 12 people rather than 1 person. The chances are greater with a jury trial from the defendant’s perspective.

Technology and the Law

Technology creates a lot of evidence and  lot of defendants are getting convicted due to technology.  It can be much more difficult to dispute your whereabouts with camera’s everywhere or cellphones being pinged off of towers in specific areas.  If you say you were in one part of town but your EZ pass clocked you as driving in another part of town, that information can be very damaging.  But technology can also helps those who are not guilty in the exact same way.  Access to usernames and passwords can be requested from the courts to obtain evidence concerning particular cases. A lot of people still don’t understand that when you put things on the internet, it is there forever, and it is not protected.

Tom considers criminal attorney’s as a voice for the people that don’t have one; either criminally or in a personal injury. People need someone to walk them through the laws which are complicated and convoluted in their own right. Attorney’s provide  a way to protect people or to ensure that people get what they’re entitled to from a government.

Tom shared so much on this topic that was helpful to me and our listeners.  If you would like to connect with Tom Martin please visit his website at

Jersey Criminal Lawyer
96 West Main Street, Freehold New Jersey 07728

This is a transcript of a recorded live presentation. It is in spoken-word format. While we have cleaned up the transcript a bit for easier reading, it’s not in edited written-word format. – See more at: 

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