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STATE v. HENDRICKS — NEW JERSEY MURDER TRIAL — “NOT GUILTY” VERDICT

Mr. Tumelty represented Helena Hendricks, who was charged with first degree murder in Atlantic County Superior Court. The defendant faced a number of additional charges, including armed robbery, conspiracy and possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose. At the conclusion of a jury trial that lasted three weeks, the defendant was found “not guilty” of all charges.

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When Does it Make Sense to Accept a Plea Bargain?

Anytime a person is arrestedshutterstock_66943093 (640x427), emotions take over and cause people to have clouded thinking. When we aren’t thinking clearly, we make bad decisions. Sometimes, a plea bargain is in your best interest. It certainly may sound good at the time, especially if it allows you to avoid trial and maybe even jail time.

There are a number of incentives for a defendant to accept a plea bargain:

  • Saves money: If you’re represented by a private attorney, your legal costs will be significantly reduced if you can avoid trial.
  • Stay out of jail: One of the biggest incentives for defendants to accept a plea bargain is that it may reduce their jail time or keep them from behind bars completely. Obviously, if you have a job and a family to worry about, avoiding a lengthy trial which may result in you going to jail could be advantageous.
  • Saves time: Criminal cases take days, weeks and even months to complete. Agreeing to a plea bargain speeds up the process, as a guilty plea could be completed in minutes.
  • Having your charges reduced: Exchanging a guilty plea for a reduction in charges or in the severity of those charges may be enticing for some defendants. This could be particularly important for defendants who want avoid damaging charges like a DUI or other offenses which may result in felony convictions. Any time your ability to earn a living, like when you may have to forfeit an occupational license or to be unable to perform their job duties because you don’t have a driver’s license to get to work, are certainly reasons for considering a plea bargain.
  • Have you consulted with an attorney? The first thing you should do if you’ve been charged with a crime is talk to a skilled criminal defense lawyer. If you’ve been offered a plea bargain, your attorney will be able to better advise you about the fairness of the offer that’s been made to you. And, don’t worry about asking for time to consult an attorney. If the offer was legitimate, it will still be on the table after you talk to your lawyer. Don’t allow law enforcement to bully you into accepting a plea bargain without your lawyer present.
  • Are you actually getting a bargain? While a plea bargain may seem like a nice gesture from the prosecution, remember that they aren’t your friends and they don’t care about your best interest. Their job is to get the agreement that suits their case – not you.
  • What happens if you don’t accept a plea bargain? Determining whether or not you want to plea out largely depends on what would happen if you didn’t. Often times, prosecutors offer plea deals because they have flimsy evidence. If you and your attorney believe that you can prove your innocence, and you’re willing to commit the time and money, it may be better for you not to accept a bargain.

The thing is, a plea bargain isn’t always in your best interests. Ask yourself these questions before accepting any plea bargain:

  • Have you consulted with an attorney? The first thing you should do if you’ve been charged with a crime is talk to a skilled criminal defense lawyer. If you’ve been offered a plea bargain, your attorney will be able to better advise you about the fairness of the offer that’s been made to you. And, don’t worry about asking for time to consult an attorney. If the offer was legitimate, it will still be on the table after you talk to your lawyer. Don’t allow law enforcement to bully you into accepting a plea bargain without your lawyer present.
  • Are you actually getting a bargain? While a plea bargain may seem like a nice gesture from the prosecution, remember that they aren’t your friends and they don’t care about your best interest. Their job is to get the agreement that suits their case – not you.
  • What happens if you don’t accept a plea bargain? Determining whether or not you want to plea out largely depends on what would happen if you didn’t. Often times, prosecutors offer plea deals because they have flimsy evidence. If you and your attorney believe that you can prove your innocence, and you’re willing to commit the time and money, it may be better for you not to accept a bargain.

The best defense to any criminal charge is to immediately retain the services of an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. Contact the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty for skilled criminal defense in New Jersey today. He will discuss your case with you for free and explain how he can help.

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South Jersey criminal defense lawyer John W. Tumelty is conveniently located in Atlantic City, NJ. He serves clients in Atlantic, Ocean, Gloucester and Cape May counties and the Jersey Shore, including: Absecon, Atlantic City, Avalon, Brigantine, Buena, Cape May, Egg Harbor City, Egg Harbor Township, Estell Manor, Folsom, Galloway Township, Hamilton Township, Hammonton, Linwood, Longport, Margate, Mullica Township, Northfield, Pleasantville, Port Republic, Somers Point, Ventnor,  and Waymouth.