There are some days where everything comes together perfectly and that was the situation today. In this regard, we were retained to represent a women who was a fugitive from New Jersey for almost 20 years for First Degree Cocaine Distribution. Although she never resorted to serious efforts to disguise her identity and even used her own social security number, it took authorities until June 2009 to arrest her. She was eventually apprehended by United States Marshals in the Southeast and was thereafter extradited to NJ to face her charges. Our client was exposed to 10-20 years of incarceration on the original charges and additional time for bail jumping.
The facts surround our client’s case literally read like a made for movie storyline. After fleeing NJ, she built a solid, law abiding life, having married, raised three children, graduated with a four year college degree in accounting, and having gained significant career success. She had no prior nor subsequent history of criminal activity.
Upon becoming involved in this case, we immediately made sure that a waiver of extradition was executed such that no unnecessary delay in transport to NJ was incurred. The only thing needed to be accomplished once the waiver was executed was to coordinate transport to New Jersey and insure that this was undertaken immediately. We were able to achieve this goal and the client made her way back to the state within a number of days. A problem encountered in extradition situations can be, however, adequate notice concerning an extradited suspect’s initial appearance in New Jersey. An individual is almost immediately brought before a Judge and communication as to arrival and the initial hearing can be challenging. In this case, we were able to get to Warren County when our client arrived at Court and, rather than simply discuss bail, we engaged the Prosecutor in plea negotiations. The weaknesses in the case were obvious in view of the age of the case (e.g. availability of police officers, changes in vehicle search laws, etc.). On top of these issues, the Prosecutor was somewhat sympathetic to our client’s situation.
We were able to obtain an extraordinary resolution in our judgment. Our client pled guilty to third degree possession of CDS with no period of incarceration – probation only. Additionally, insofar as the client avoided a conviction for drug distribution, she is eligible for expungement of her conviction. The plea also provided for the immediate release of our client thereby avoiding the significant delay, obvious bail issues (e.g. client committed bail jumping while out on $75,000 bail), which would have resulted in her remaining in a New Jersey jail for months. She was immediately released to her family and only needs to return for sentencing to fully resolve her case. I was ecstatic with the result and I believe our clients shared this view.