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Michael J. Beatrice, Attorney at Law in Mahwah, New Jersey, is an experienced trial lawyer who concentrates his practice on criminal defense, DWI / DUI defense, and complex civil lawsuits. He also handles personal injury cases and real estate matters, as well as wills and estate administration after a death in the family.

Inspired by Atticus Finch, the attorney in author Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel of 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird, Mr. Beatrice believes that every defendant is equal in the eyes of the law:

“There is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution, gentlemen, is a court.”

―Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

I wanted to write to you to thank you for your services in the past two years. I couldn't have gotten through my very serious criminal case without you. I will always remember you and all the hard work you did for me. I feel my life can start over, and it's all because of you. Many, many thanks!

K.B.

Criminal Defense

Understanding the Charges

Criminal cases involve an action that is considered to be harmful to society as a whole. When you are charged with a federal crime, the government, on behalf of the people of the United States, prosecutes the case through the United States Attorney General’s Office. The New Jersey Attorney General prosecutes state crimes, and the County Prosecutor’s Office prosecutes crimes in their county. If you are summoned to appear in a local township’s court, then the Municipal Prosecutor prosecutes your case.

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Criminal defense cases require skilled and dedicated legal representation. Michael J. Beatrice served in the Bergen County NJ Prosecutor’s Office (6 years) and was the Special Prosecutor for the Borough of Fort Lee (1 year), and then Municipal Prosecutor for the Township of Mahwah (16 years). He has been successful repeatedly in achieving his clients’ goals in criminal cases at the trial level or on appeal.

Mr. Beatrice has successfully defended clients accused of:

  • Arson
  • Armed Robbery
  • Assault / Aggravated Assault
  • Bribery
  • Child Abuse / Endangerment / Pornography
  • Criminal Mischief
  • Criminal Restraint
  • Disorderly-Persons Offense
  • Drug Charges / Possession / Trafficking
  • False Imprisonment
  • Harassment / Coercion
  • Homicide / Murder / Attempted Murder
  • Immigration Violations
  • Juvenile Arrests
  • Kidnapping
  • Molestation
  • Narcotics Distribution
  • Possession of a Weapon
  • Rape
  • Resisting Arrest
  • Sexual Assault / Sexual Misconduct
  • Shoplifting
  • Theft / Theft-by-Deception
  • Traffic Violations
  • Vehicular Homicide
  • Violations of Restraining Orders
  • White-Collar Crime
  • Appeals & More

I shudder to think what would have happened if … the 7,000 ounces of cocaine would have hit the streets of New York, and the damage it could have caused, the amount of deaths it could have caused … It’s mind-boggling. But this lenient plea deal worked out by Michael Beatrice is the best I’ve ever seen in this courtroom. [Possession with intent to distribute 200 kilos (7,000 ounces) of cocaine case] Superior Court Judge

Sample Cases: Criminal Defense

Kidnapping & Assault Case: A man was charged with Kidnapping, Aggravated Assault, Possession of Cocaine, and Attempted Murder of his former girlfriend. After a lengthy trial, the jury found the man not guilty of kidnapping, criminal restraint, or aggravated assault, and the drug charges were suppressed.

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Theft Case: The case of a supermarket cashier charged with bilking a store by over-processing coupons and refunds was dismissed and cashier exonerated in Bergen County Superior Court during a jury trial. Mr. Beatrice proved that the prosecution failed to provide advance notice of evidence (so-called “Brady violation”) so the evidence was not admissible.

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Bribery Case: A physician charged with accepting illegal referral fees (bribes) in exchange for sending blood tests to a lab was sentenced to 24 months in prison, instead of five years, as part of plea agreement negotiated by Mr. Beatrice.

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Theft-by-Deception Case: A municipal court administrator was charged with writing receipts for $1,904 cash payments that were never deposited. Penalties for conviction on the third-degree crime are three to five years in jail and a $15,000 fine. As part of an agreement negotiated by Mr. Beatrice, charges were dismissed after completion of a Pretrial Intervention (PTI) program.

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Theft & Misconduct Case: A local police officer, President of the PBA, was charged with theft and misconduct in office. Mr. Beatrice argued at trial that the activities of the officer were not criminal and were, in fact, justified. The court agreed, and the officer was found Not Guilty.

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Theft & Criminal Mischief Case: A man accused of following a wealthy property owner’s orders to clear a 1.5-acre swath behind the owner’s mansion was charged with theft, criminal mischief, and other charges for clearing public parkland to build a private tennis court. The theft charge carried a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. After extensive motion practice and challenges by Mr. Beatrice, the indictment was dismissed.

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Criminal Mischief & Theft: A woman was charged with removing political signs for a candidate running for town council. Mr. Beatrice argued that this wasn’t a criminal act and should not be treated as such. As a result, the charges were dismissed.

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Vehicular Homicide Case: In 2009 an Iraq War veteran was charged with Death-by-Auto for a drunk-driving crash that killed two men who were changing a tire on the roadside, a charge that carried with it a maximum of 20 years with a mandatory minimum of 17 years without parole. As a result of his arguments that the blood tests were taken in violation of the man’s constitutional rights, Mr. Beatrice was able to get the charges reduced, saving his client about 15 years of prison time and eliminating the no-parole provisions.

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Resisting Arrest & Attempted Bribery Case: A man from Villa Marcone, Italy, who had built a successful concrete business in New Jersey but had never applied for U.S. citizenship, was charged with resisting arrest and attempted bribery and was facing prison and deportation. As part of a plea agreement negotiated by Mr. Beatrice, he got a five-year probationary sentence and a $2,500 fine. Deportation charges were dismissed.

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Attempted Murder & Aggravated Assault Case: In 1997 a Korean woman was accused of slashing another woman repeatedly with a box cutter. Mr. Beatrice argued that his client knew nothing about the incident, nor did she take part in the attack. Then, in 2000, the woman was injured in a car accident. Medical experts obtained by Mr. Beatrice for the defense all agreed that her injuries prevented her from being able to assist in her own defense. In 2002 the court ruled that the injuries sustained in a car accident had rendered the woman incompetent to stand trial and the indictment was dismissed.

Case 1   Case 2   Case 3

 

Narcotics Possession Case: A man accused of transporting 200 kilos of cocaine was sentenced to eight years in prison as a result of a plea bargain, instead of 20 years. The Presiding Judge R.S. referred to the lenient plea deal worked out by defense attorney Michael J. Beatrice as, “the best I’ve ever seen in this courtroom.”

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Sexual Misconduct & Child Endangerment Case: A clergyman / teacher pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child by touching a student’s genitals through his clothing. The teacher admitted there was truth to the allegations and was dismissed from his position. In a plea bargain negotiated by Mr. Beatrice, the clergyman received a non-prison sentence of probation and was required to undergo psychiatric treatment.

Case 1   Case 2

 

Assault Case: In 1987, a man known as the “Cobra King” was charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault by putting two timber rattlesnakes inside a woman’s apartment as a favor to a friend who was feuding with this woman. After soliciting experts and challenging the State’s evidence, Mr. Beatrice got the attempted murder and assault charges against his client dismissed, and his client pleaded to possession of the snakes.

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Criminal Harassment & Coercion Case: An IRS agent/volunteer fireman was accused of threatening to order an audit of a policeman’s tax returns. The policeman had investigated complaints about firemen driving firetrucks recklessly, an accusation that the fire department denied. Despite strained relations between the police and fire departments in the borough, Mr. Beatrice was able to reach a plea agreement for the IRS agent, sparing his client an 18-month prison sentence.

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DWI / DUI Defense

Understanding the Charges

DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence, while DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated or Driving While Impaired.

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DUI and DWI may sometimes be used interchangeably or, in some states, be recognized as different offenses. While the most common DWI charge is for drunk driving, you may also face charges for driving under the influence of drugs. The drugs in use do not have to be illegal for a DUI or DWI to be issued; they can be narcotics, over-the-counter medications, or prescription drugs. The only difference is that there is no minimum level of drugs that you must have in your system to be considered “under the influence.” Thus, any amount that impairs your ability to drive is enough for you to be arrested for a DWI / DUI.

DWI / DUI convictions may lead to the loss of your driver’s license, significant fines, damage to your reputation, huge increases in your insurance premiums, a criminal record and, in some cases, even incarceration.

When you are charged with DWI / DUI, contact Michael J. Beatrice immediately for an initial, free telephone consultation. He will explain your legal rights and options for defending yourself. He has helped THOUSANDS of clients with all types of traffic and motor-vehicle related criminal offenses such as:

  • Driving while intoxicated or impaired (DWI / DUI): first offense or multiple offenses
  • Driving while license is suspended or revoked
  • Driving without insurance
  • Breath test refusal
  • High blood alcohol content (BAC) levels
  • Speeding tickets
  • Leaving the scene of an accident (hit and run)
  • Careless driving
  • Reckless driving
  • Vehicular assault (reckless accident or assault by auto)
  • Road rage
  • And others

Getting Charges Reduced or Dismissed

Effective representation in cases involving DWI / DUI requires a skillful criminal defense attorney who can help by getting the charges dismissed or reduced. Getting charges dismissed or reduced is what Mr. Beatrice does best because he has served on both sides of the case—as a prosecutor AND as a defense attorney—which distinguishes him from almost all other attorneys.

For Mr. Beatrice, the defense process involves two steps: (1) make people want to help you and to decide in your favor, (2) show them how they can. That’s where being creative, resourceful, intelligent, and experienced all come into play.

Mr. Beatrice was the Special Prosecutor handling DWI / DUI cases in Fort Lee, New Jersey, and prosecuted all DWI / DUI cases in busy Mahwah Municipal Courts for 16 years. He has traveled throughout New Jersey defending DWI / DUI cases in every county in the state. He is frequently consulted by other attorneys on DWI / DUI cases and has probably tried more DWI / DUI cases than any other attorney in Bergen County as a prosecutor and defense attorney.

Mr. Beatrice was among the first ten lawyers in New Jersey trained by National Draeger, Inc., the manufacturer of the Alcotest Breath Testing Device. Additionally, he has taken the certification course for the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests by National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) certified instructors. Mr. Beatrice’s knowledge of this equipment and its potential for error are key to a good DWI / DUI defense. Additionally, he will:

  • Investigate the evidence gathered against you for possible misconduct on the part of the police
  • Interview witnesses to get the full story
  • Aggressively defend you against the accusations made by the prosecution
  • Present your case clearly and effectively to a judge.
Unlike some lawyers who sent me intimidating letters after my DWI arrest, Michael J. Beatrice made me feel comfortable and at ease right from the initial call. Then he spent hours working on my case, making it his number one priority. He helped me understand the law and my rights. He was persuasive, well prepared, and effective in court. I cannot thank him enough for taking care of my DWI charges. J.K.

Sample Cases: DWI / DUI Defense

State v. D.H.: Law student facing two DWI charges in two separate courts, one a second offense and the other in a third offense with a mandatory 180 days in jail and a ten-year license suspension. Mr. Beatrice got the second offense reduced to a Reckless Driving. After a protracted trial, Mr. Beatrice obtained an acquittal on the third offense when he caught the officer lying about the breath tests.

State v. J.A.: Defendant charged with DWI after auto accident. At trial de novo in Superior Court, Defendant found Not Guilty. Later, member of Judge’s staff referred family member to Mr. Beatrice to defend DWI for which he was acquitted.

State v. C.M.: Defendant charge with third offense DWI was told by other prominent lawyer there was no defense and should plead guilty and get jail sentence. Family member who was court employee in another town referred him to Mr. Beatrice. At trial, the defendant was acquitted when Mr. Beatrice exposed police officer’s falsehood and procedural violations on cross examination.

State v. N.B.: Second offense DWI. The defendant was acquitted after trial where Mr. Beatrice forced State Trooper on cross examination to admit to errors in field test and breath testing procedures.

State v. M.C.: Business owner charged with DWI. After motions filed by Mr. Beatrice, charges were dismissed.

State v. M.D.: Defendant charged with second offense DWI. After Mr. Beatrice discovered Constitutional violations, he filed Motion to Suppress Evidence, which was granted. DWI dismissed.

State v. P.D.: Defendant charged with School Zone DWI and Refusal. Dismissed.

State v. A.F.: DWI dismissed after medical defense advanced by Mr. Beatrice negated field tests.

State v. J.K.: Third offense DWI. After Mr. Beatrice won a Motion to Suppress Evidence, the DWI was dismissed.

State v. M.L.: Second Offense DWI. Using a very sophisticated technique, Mr. Beatrice filed a Petition for Post-Conviction Relief and was able to vacate the first DWI, resulting in a 21-month reduction in defendant’s license suspension.

State v. C.D.: Second Offense DWI. Mr. Beatrice convinced State that there were proof problems with regard to operation and search and arrest. DWI dismissed.

State v. A.S.: Mr. Beatrice filed Motion to Suppress. State dismissed after legal argument won by defense.

State v. M.S.: Second Offense DWI dismissed after Mr. Beatrice filed motion for Lack of Jurisdiction on search and arrest, which was granted.

Mr. Beatrice has handled many hundreds of DWI cases where he has skillfully excluded the breath test results, thereby reducing the charge to a first-tier offense and lowering the potential penalty significantly.

Civil Lawsuits

Understanding the Charges

Civil lawsuits usually involve private disputes between persons or organizations. For example:

  • Contract disputes (e.g., employee groups, professional associations, wills, probate, estate matters
  • Injuries sustained in a car accident. See also Personal Injury
  • Neglect of duty
  • Residential evictions
  • Wrongful terminations

The goal of every civil lawsuit is to get you the compensation you deserve. A civil case is usually instigated by a private party—a person or business who has allegedly suffered some kind of damage. In contrast, a criminal case is brought by a prosecutor or other attorney representing the government.

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Civil lawsuits generally proceed through distinct steps: pleadings, discovery, trial, and possibly an appeal. However, parties can halt this process by voluntarily settling at any time. Most cases settle before reaching trial. Arbitration is sometimes another alternative to a trial.

Besides negotiating disputes between persons, Michael J. Beatrice has also represented employee groups and professional associations in negotiating public employment contracts. He has an excellent track record getting his clients the compensation they deserve.

Our association had been trying to negotiate a contract for months; then we called Michael Beatrice. His knowledge, creativity, and experience saved us time and money because he knew how to negotiate effectively with both sides. Best of all, we were able to reach a contract settlement that satisfied everyone. I.M.

Sample Cases: Civil Lawsuits

Wrongful Termination Case: Two zoning officers appealed a judge’s decision to dismiss their claim that they wrongfully lost their jobs when the town switched to a regional service. Mr. Beatrice argued that town officials had ignored their tenure and a state statute forbidding volunteer firefighters from being fired from governmental jobs for political reasons.

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Education Association Case: The 130-member Waldwick Education Association had worked without a contract for several months. Mr. Beatrice successfully negotiated the settlement.

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Education Association Case: The 365-member Ridgewood Education Association reached a contract settlement with the help of Michael J. Beatrice who helped negotiate the terms of their salary-hike demands, which were the highest in the county at the time.

Personal Injury

Getting the Compensation You Deserve

For more than 30 years, Michael J. Beatrice has been helping accident victims seek payment for injuries resulting from the negligence or misconduct of another. No matter how you or a loved one has been injured, with Mr. Beatrice on your side, you can be confident that you will be treated fairly and get the compensation you deserve.

Some common types of personal injury lawsuits include those stemming from:

  • Car Accidents
  • Defamation
  • Defective Products
  • Dog Bites
  • Intentional Acts
  • Medical Malpractice
  • Negligent Security
  • Product Liability
  • Slip-and-Fall Incidents
  • Toxic Accidents

Mr. Beatrice has decades of experience handling personal injury cases. He will deal with the insurance companies, negotiate your medical bills, and work to get you compensation for lost wages and injuries. Insurance companies know about his aggressive style and reputation and are frequently unwilling to take their chances against him in a courtroom.

Mr. Beatrice prepares every personal injury case for trial. Why? Because your opponents are far more likely to make fair settlement offers if they know your attorney will go to trial if that is what it takes to succeed.

Settling out of court is an option only if/when Mr. Beatrice knows he can win. The vast majority of these cases will reach a settlement well before a court-based trial takes place. Many injury claims are resolved through settlement negotiations before a lawsuit is even filed.

All of Mr. Beatrice’s personal injury cases are handled on a contingency basis; that is, you are not obligated to pay him unless he succeeds in getting compensation for you.

After my car accident, I needed a lawyer to try to collect the compensation I thought I deserved. I was very upset and had no idea where to turn, so I asked a friend who said, ‘Call Mike Beatrice.’ He knew Michael’s office was located nearby, plus Beatrice had a stellar reputation as a defense attorney. My neighbor was right: Michael calmed me down and, more importantly, we won the lawsuit! Thank you, Michael, for all your help and your patience with my questions and concerns. F.P.

Sample Cases: Personal Injury

Assault and Lack of Security Case: While talking to his girlfriend in a bar, a man was assaulted by another patron and was stabbed in the neck, receiving a life-threatening injury. When the man recovered, Mr. Beatrice filed suit against the bar owner for a lack of security. At trial, Mr. Beatrice creatively used security experts to establish liability, and the jury returned with a six-figure verdict for the Plaintiff.

Auto Accident Case
: A young woman was driving on NJ Route 17 when her car was struck by a drunk driver. Her ankle was seriously injured and required surgery. After extensive negotiations, Mr. Beatrice was able to obtain a significant six-figure settlement for her.

Auto Accident / Wrongful Death Case: A teenage boy was a passenger in a car when the driver, who was intoxicated, hit a telephone pole. Mr. Beatrice, after preparing for trial, was able to resolve the case for a substantial, six-figure settlement.

Wills & Estates

Safeguarding Your Assets

If you’ve ever been involved in estate settlements, you know they can get complicated and confusing. You need a knowledgeable and experienced attorney to help guide you through the process and safeguard your family’s assets. Mr. Beatrice will make sure that you and your family members have your assets in order and that the right benefactors receive what they should in the event of a death. For example, he can assist you with:

  • Estate Administration
  • Living Wills
  • Power of Attorney
  • Probate / Probate Estates
  • Trusts / Revocable Living Trusts
  • Will Contests
  • Guardianships

If you’re interested in creating a will or setting up a trust, Mr. Beatrice can draft the necessary documents. You can be confident that your assets will be well preserved for your loved ones. Also, if you’d like to express your wishes regarding medical treatment, Mr. Beatrice can help you draft a Living Will or a healthcare Power of Attorney.

On the other hand, if you or a loved one dies without a will, probate could be necessary. Probate is the court-supervised process of sorting out a person’s affairs. As your trusted advisor, Mr. Beatrice would be able to guide you through the probate process and represent your interests in court.

After my father-in-law died, his will was challenged by some family members so we needed an experienced attorney who knew how to handle a difficult situation. Frankly, if our family hadn’t found Mr. Beatrice, I think we still wouldn’t be speaking to one another! Since then, my wife and I have hired Mr. Beatrice for other legal services too.

E.F.