New Jersey Criminal Defense Law Blog

New Jersey Criminal Defense Law Blog

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So far Jonathan F. Marshall has created 283 blog entries.

Court Explains the Defense of Third Party Guilt in New Jersey Criminal Matters

In criminal matters, the State is tasked with proving a defendant’s guilt. A defendant, conversely, does not bear any burden of proof and is not required to offer any evidence. In some instances, though, a defendant may wish to assert an affirmative defense in order to avoid a conviction. The affirmative defense of third-party guilt was the topic of a recent New Jersey opinion in a case in which the defendant appealed his convictions for numerous crimes arising out of the theft of a vehicle. If you are accused of theft or any other crime, it is wise to confer with a New Jersey criminal defense attorney to evaluate your possible defenses.

The Alleged Crime

It is reported that a man stole a blue SUV in March 2017 and then picked up the defendant and another individual. A police officer recognized the SUV on the highway and began following it. A high-speed chase ensued, and the SUV ultimately careened out of control and spun into a pole. The driver died on the scene. The defendant was charged with multiple crimes, including aggravated manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, and receiving stolen property.

Allegedly, throughout the trial, the prosecution referred to the deceased man as the carjacker but indicated that the defendant was driving at the time of the crash and that if he had pulled over, the deceased man would have lived. The defendant was convicted as charged and appealed, arguing in part that the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury regarding third-party guilt. (more…)

By |2021-01-21T14:32:40+00:00January 21, 2021|Theft Charges|Comments Off on Court Explains the Defense of Third Party Guilt in New Jersey Criminal Matters

New Jersey Court Reversed Conviction Grounded on False Statements

When the State charges a person with committing a drug crime, it often must rely on circumstantial evidence to prove its case. While such evidence is generally admissible, inaccurate evidence is not, especially if it is prejudicial to the defendant. Thus, if the State relies on false statements in support of its claims a defendant committed a drug crime, it may be considered a violation of the defendant’s rights and may warrant a reversal of a conviction. What constitutes prejudicial evidence sufficient to vacate a guilty verdict was the topic of a recent New Jersey opinion in a case in which the defendant was convicted of multiple drug crimes after false statements were made to the jury. If you are charged with a drug offense, it is prudent to consult a New Jersey criminal defense attorney regarding your rights.

The Defendant’s Arrest and Trial

It is reported that the police surveilled the defendant at his mother’s home for about thirty days. They then obtained a search warrant and found drugs in the home, after which they arrested the defendant. He was charged with numerous drug crimes, and the matter proceeded to trial. During the trial, the State presented testimony indicating that drugs were obtained from the home three times prior to the defendant’s arrest and that the defendant visited the home during the middle of the night, neither of which was true. The defendant was convicted, after which he appealed, arguing in part that the admittance of prejudicial and false statements into evidence resulted in an unjust verdict.

Consequences of False Statements at Trial

Under New Jersey law, the likelihood of prejudice is strong when the evidence offered is proof of misconduct outside of the charged offense. For example, evidence of prior crimes increases the risk of conviction because it may persuade the jury that the defendant is an immoral person who is likely to commit crimes. Thus, a court may preclude evidence of other crimes unless it is for a permissible purpose, such as proof of intent, motive, opportunity, plan, or knowledge.

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By |2021-01-21T14:31:24+00:00January 21, 2021|Drug Offenses|Comments Off on New Jersey Court Reversed Conviction Grounded on False Statements

Court Discusses Evidence of Prior Acts in Criminal Cases in New Jersey

If a person is charged with a crime, the State is limited to what evidence it is permitted to introduce to establish guilt. In other words, it generally cannot introduce evidence of prior wrongs committed by the defendant in an attempt to establish the defendant was a person of a certain character and acted in accordance with that character on the date of the offense. There are some exceptions, however, as discussed in a recent New Jersey opinion in a case in which the defendant was convicted of weapons offenses and other crimes. If you are accused of a crime, it is wise to confer with a New Jersey criminal defense attorney to evaluate your rights.

The Alleged Offense

It is reported that the defendant was observed fighting with his wife outside of a bar in Paterson, New Jersey. He then got into a verbal argument with a man inside of the bar, who told the defendant to leave. The two men then became involved in a physical altercation. The defendant left and then returned fifteen minutes with a gun.

Allegedly, the defendant entered the bar, shot the man he had been fighting with, and then fled. He was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and possessing a weapon for an unlawful purpose. Prior to trial, a hearing was held during which the State sought to admit evidence the defendant was fighting with his wife prior to the shooting. The defendant objected, but the court ruled in favor of the State. A jury convicted the defendant, after which he appealed, arguing in part that the trial court erred in admitting evidence he fought with his wife.

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By |2021-01-07T14:30:13+00:00January 7, 2021|General Criminal, Murder, Weapon Offenses|Comments Off on Court Discusses Evidence of Prior Acts in Criminal Cases in New Jersey

Court Explains Sufficiency of Indictments in New Jersey Stalking Case

What some people perceive as demonstrating romantic interest may constitute the crime of stalking under New Jersey law. Stalking, like most crimes, is comprised of multiple elements, and the State must prove each element to obtain a valid conviction. Recently, a New Jersey court discussed the elements of negligence in a ruling upholding a stalking conviction, in a case in which the defendant argued the State failed to properly prove his guilt. If you are charged with stalking or any other offense, it is in your best interest to meet with a trusted New Jersey criminal defense attorney regarding your options.

The Indictment and Trial

It is reported that the defendant first met the victim in the summer of 2016. He obtained the victim’s email address and sent her a message, after which she advised she no longer wanted to communicate with him. He then repeatedly visited her home, and on multiple occasions, stated he was going to take her with him. He threatened the victim’s boyfriend as well, after which the victim called the police, who directed the defendant to leave the victim alone. The defendant continued to pursue the victim, though, and he was eventually charged with stalking. A jury convicted him, after which he appealed.

Proving a Stalking Crime in New Jersey

On appeal, the defendant argued in part that the judge incorrectly instructed the jury on the amended version of the stalking statute instead of the indicted offense, which relied on a prior version. Under New Jersey law, a person cannot be held to answer for a criminal offense without the indictment of a grand jury. The indictment must inform the person of the crime with which he is charged so that he can properly prepare a defense, which means that it must be sufficiently specific to allow the defendant to avoid a subsequent prosecution for the offense and to prevent the trial jury from substituting the charged crime with another offense.

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By |2021-01-07T14:27:33+00:00January 7, 2021|Stalking|Comments Off on Court Explains Sufficiency of Indictments in New Jersey Stalking Case

New Jersey Court Discusses Modifications of Conditions of Pre-Trial Release

Convictions for drug offenses can result in significant penalties, and in many cases, people charged with drug-related crimes are denied pre-trial release or subject to strict pre-release conditions. In some instances, though, the conditions of pre-trial release can be modified and made less restrictive. In a recent ruling, a New Jersey court discussed the grounds for altering the conditions of pre-trial release in a case in which the defendant was charged with multiple drug crimes. If you are accused of committing drug offenses, it is prudent to speak to a skillful New Jersey criminal defense attorney promptly to assess your options.

The Defendant’s Pre-Trial Release and Conditions

Allegedly, the defendant was charged with multiple drug crimes in February 2019. His release was ordered on level 3+ pre-trial monitoring, which included home detention. With the State’s consent, the terms of his release were relaxed on three occasions. The defendant then filed a motion seeking a further modification, in that he sought to have the home detention condition to be removed entirely. His request was based on the fact that new developments in the investigation of his case revealed numerous weaknesses in the State’s case that were previously not evident. The State argued the developments did not weaken their case and objected to the requested modification. The trial court denied the defendant’s request, after which he appealed.

Motion to Relax Conditions of Pre-Trial Release

On appeal, the appellate court noted that the trial court incorrectly deemed the defendant’s request as one to reopen a detention hearing and evaluated it based on the standards that applied to that motion. Thus, the appellate court found that the trial court applied the incorrect rule and failed to consider relevant factors.

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By |2020-12-23T10:58:02+00:00December 23, 2020|Drug Offenses|Comments Off on New Jersey Court Discusses Modifications of Conditions of Pre-Trial Release

New Jersey Court Explains Sufficient Proof of Criminal Intent in Burglary Cases

Burglary is a unique crime in that it not only involves the unlawful entry into the property of another; it also requires the intent to commit a crime after illegally accessing the premises. Thus, if the prosecution cannot prove that both elements of the offense are present, a jury should not convict a defendant charged with burglary. The proof needed to demonstrate criminal intent in a burglary case was the topic of a recent New Jersey opinion in a case in which the defendant appealed his conviction. If you are charged with burglary or any other crime, it is advisable to confer with a New Jersey criminal defense attorney promptly to discuss your rights.

The Underlying Crime

It is reported that the defendant and another individual went to the victim’s home. The defendant sat on the victim’s back porch, where he could see the bedroom of the victim’s 10-year-old daughter. Six months later, the defendant visited the victim’s house on a bicycle. Later that day, he ran into the victim and her daughter at a store and stared at the daughter.

Allegedly, the following day the daughter heard someone enter her bedroom window. She turned on her light and then turned it back off and pretended to be asleep. She then heard someone unscrew the lightbulb from her lamp and crawl into the corner of the room, at which point she stated, “I know you are still in here.” He left the room but quickly returned, and the daughter saw that it was the defendant. He was ultimately charged with and convicted of burglary. He appealed, arguing in part that the trial court erred in denying his motion for a directed verdict.

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By |2020-12-15T11:12:19+00:00December 15, 2020|Burglary|Comments Off on New Jersey Court Explains Sufficient Proof of Criminal Intent in Burglary Cases

New Jersey Court Discusses Criteria for Pre-Trial Intervention in Criminal Matters

Many people who are charged with crimes are law-abiding citizens who find themselves embroiled in unfortunate situations. As such, criminal defendants in New Jersey who meet certain criteria may request pre-trial intervention (PTI), which allows them to avoid the rigors and consequences of a typical criminal trial. Only certain people are eligible for PTI, though, as discussed in a recent New Jersey opinion in a case involving assault. If you are charged with a criminal offense, it is in our best interest to speak to a New Jersey criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your rights.

The Alleged Assault

It is reported that the defendant became intoxicated and struck another individual in the head with a beer bottle when he was in a bar. The defendant admitted to being intoxicated and intending to cause the victim harm, even though he did not know him. The victim suffered a laceration and required medical attention.

Allegedly, the defendant was charged with numerous crimes, including assault and weapons offenses. He applied for PTI, and Probation recommended him for admission, but his application was denied. He appealed, and the Superior Court remanded the matter, after which his application was again denied. He appealed once more, but his second appeal was denied. He was convicted as charged, and he appealed a third time, arguing the trial court erred in not granting his PTI appeal. (more…)

By |2020-12-04T10:52:25+00:00December 4, 2020|Assault, Pretrial Intervention|Comments Off on New Jersey Court Discusses Criteria for Pre-Trial Intervention in Criminal Matters

New Jersey Court Assesses the Right to Set Forth a Defense in a Criminal Trial

Under State and Federal law, criminal defendants are not required to offer a defense at any point during their proceedings. They have the privilege to set forth a defense if they choose to do so, though, and if a judge denies them that privilege, it may constitute a violation of the right to a fair trial. The right is not boundless, however, and any evidence a defendant wishes to set forth in his or her defense must be reasonably related to a critical element of the State’s case. A defendant’s right to offer a defense was the subject of a recent New Jersey ruling in which the defendant argued the court erred in failing to introduce evidence suggesting that another party committed the aggravated assault out of which his charges arose. If you are accused of assault or another crime, it is prudent to meet with a New Jersey criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options.

The Alleged Assault

It is reported that a physical altercation occurred outside of a New Jersey bar. Video surveillance footage of the incident showed the victim struggling with a man. The man was wearing similar clothing to what the defendant was wearing when he was arrested moments later. The man was then shown taking an object out of the waistband of his pants and striking the victim repeatedly. The man and the victim move off-camera, and the victim is seen seconds later walking into the street to hail a police car.

It is alleged that the victim suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen. The defendant was arrested and charged with multiple crimes, including aggravated assault. During the trial, the court prohibited the defendant from questioning the bar owner regarding his confrontation with the victim on the night of the victim, noting he had not provided notice he would argue he was acting in self-defense and the purpose of the questioning was unclear. The jury convicted the defendant, after which he appealed.

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By |2020-11-25T12:31:10+00:00November 25, 2020|Aggravated Assault, Assault|Comments Off on New Jersey Court Assesses the Right to Set Forth a Defense in a Criminal Trial

New Jersey Court Discusses De Minimis Crimes

In New Jersey, there are certain behaviors that are illegal, such as underage drinking, possession of illicit substances, and shoplifting, and people who engage in such activity may be charged with a crime. In some instances, though, the actual criminal activity will be deemed so insignificant in terms of risk of harm that it will be deemed a de minimis offense, and the charges arising out of the activity will be dismissed. What constitutes a de minimis offense was the subject of a ruling recently set forth by a New Jersey court in a case in which the defendants were charged with crimes after being caught with a small amount of marijuana. If you are charged with possession of marijuana or any other crime, it is advisable to speak to a capable New Jersey drug crime defense attorney to determine what defenses you may be able to assert.

The Alleged Crime

It is reported that the defendants were sitting on a beach in New Jersey when they were approached by a police officer. The officer noted that the male defendant had a lighter in his hand, and, as smoking on the beach was illegal, he questioned the defendants regarding their behavior. The officer ultimately discovered that the male defendant was in possession of approximately 8.4 grams of marijuana and a marijuana pipe.

Allegedly, both defendants were charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. The defendants both moved to have their charges dismissed as de minimis violations, partially due to the small amount of marijuana that was seized. The trial court granted the motion, and the charges against the defendants were dismissed, after which the State appealed.

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By |2020-11-18T08:10:58+00:00November 18, 2020|Drug Offenses, Marijuana Defense|Comments Off on New Jersey Court Discusses De Minimis Crimes

New Jersey Court Discusses Jury Instructions on Flight in Criminal Matters

In criminal matters, the State bears the burden of proving a defendant’s guilt. In contrast, while criminal defendants can set forth evidence if they choose to, they are not required to prove their innocence. Recently, a New Jersey court addressed a defendant’s challenge that a jury instruction regarding flight from the scene impermissibly shifted the burden of proof from the State to the defendant, in a matter in which the defendant was convicted of numerous crimes, including aggravated assault. If you are charged with assault or another serious offense, it is wise to talk to a skillful New Jersey assault defense attorney regarding what evidence the State may try to produce against you at trial.

The Alleged Criminal Acts and Trial

It is reported that an altercation broke out at a bar in New Jersey. The fight spilled into the street, and multiple gunshots were fired. Three people died, and numerous other people suffered injuries. During their investigation, the police identified the defendant as the individual who fired the shots. He was charged with multiple crimes, including kidnapping, first-degree murder, and aggravated assault.

Allegedly, during the trial, evidence was presented that after the incident, the defendant went to Florida, despite previously having no plans to do so. The trial court set forth a jury charge regarding flight as consciousness of guilt, and the defendant did not object to the substance of the charge at trial. He was convicted of many of the charges and sentenced to ninety-nine years in prison. He then appealed, arguing in part that the jury charge improperly shifted the burden of proof from the State onto him.

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By |2020-11-12T11:23:30+00:00November 12, 2020|Aggravated Assault, Kidnapping|Comments Off on New Jersey Court Discusses Jury Instructions on Flight in Criminal Matters
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