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.

New Jersey Court Discusses Reduced Sentences for Drug Crimes

In New Jersey, the law dictates that certain sentences should be issued for certain crimes. A sentencing court is not always required to comply with sentencing guidelines, though, and can issue downgraded sentences in certain situations. A New Jersey court discussed when downgraded sentences are appropriate in a recent case in which the defendant was sentenced to probation following a conviction for a drug offense. If you are charged with drug trafficking or another drug crime, it is prudent to confer with an assertive New Jersey drug charge defense attorney to discuss what evidence you may be able to set forth in your favor.

The Alleged Crimes

It is reported that the defendant was arrested at an airport after it was revealed that two drug containers in his suitcase that were marked as laxatives actually contained cocaine. He stated a relative asked him to carry the drugs back into the country from the Dominican Republic and to deliver them to an individual in his town. He was charged with third-degree possession of a dangerous controlled substance and first-degree possession of a dangerous controlled substance with the intent to distribute.

Allegedly, the third-degree charge was dismissed, and the first-degree charge was reduced to a second-degree offense in exchange for a guilty plea. Additionally, the prosecution recommended a five-year prison term. During the sentencing hearing, the defendant’s attorney cited multiple mitigating factors and asked that the defendant be sentenced as a third-degree offender to a non-custodial probationary sentence. The court found the defense’s reasoning to be appropriate and sentenced the defendant to probation. The State appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in sentencing the defendant. The appellate court agreed and reversed the trial court ruling.

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By |2020-11-05T10:36:15+00:00November 5, 2020|Drug Offenses|Comments Off on New Jersey Court Discusses Reduced Sentences for Drug Crimes

New Jersey Court Discusses Admissibility of Eyewitness Identifications

In many instances in which people are assaulted, they do not know their attackers. As such, they will typically have to identify the assailant through other means. There is a high risk of unreliable results with many types of identification methods, however. Thus, the New Jersey courts have developed strict parameters for when out of court identifications of criminal defendants may be admitted into evidence at trial. The test for determining such admissibility was discussed in a recent New Jersey case in which the defendant was charged with robbery. If you are accused of a crime, you may be able to have the State’s evidence against you precluded at trial, and you should speak to a trusted New Jersey criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the victim was assaulted by three men while he was leaving a convenience store. One of the men pointed a gun at the victim and took his cellphone. Five days after the attack, the victim went to the police station. Detectives showed him pictures of several suspects, including the defendant, but the victim could not identify his attackers. He was then shown surveillance video from a nearby store and identified his attacker.

Allegedly, the victim then advised that he could identify his attacker in the pictures he was shown earlier but declined to do so out of fear of retaliation. He identified the defendant, and after an investigation, the defendant was charged with robbery, conspiracy, and unlawful possession of a weapon. The defendant was convicted, after which he appealed on several grounds, including the assertion that the police used inappropriately suggestive methods to obtain the victim’s identification of the defendant.

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By |2020-10-29T13:36:58+00:00October 29, 2020|Robbery|Comments Off on New Jersey Court Discusses Admissibility of Eyewitness Identifications

New Jersey Court Evaluates Jury Charges in Criminal Matters

In criminal trials, the judge will offer instructions or charges to the jurors, explaining things such as the elements of the charged offenses and providing directives on how the evidence should be evaluated. Thus, if a judge improperly instructs a jury, a defendant may be unjustly convicted, and the improper instruction may provide a basis for an appeal. Recently, in a New Jersey case in which the defendant was charged with aggravated assault, an appellate court discussed the evaluation of jury charges, ultimately determining the trial court properly instructed the jury. If you are charged with a violent crime such as assault, it is critical to retain a knowledgeable New Jersey criminal defense attorney to help you offer a compelling defense.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant physically attacked a man who was working in the salon of his ex-girlfriend. The girlfriend fled the salon, after which the defendant followed her, allowing the victim to escape. When the defendant realized both the victim and his ex-girlfriend were gone, he fled from the scene in a white van. He was subsequently charged with aggravated assault and making terroristic threats. Following a trial, he was found guilty of aggravated assault. He appealed, arguing in part that the trial judge erred in providing the jury with a flight charge.

Evaluating Jury Charges

Under New Jersey law, when a defendant argues a jury charge was erroneous, the charge must be reviewed as a whole. As a person’s freedom is at stake, proper charges are critical to a fair trial, and erroneous charges on material issues are presumed to constitute reversible errors. If a defendant’s attorney fails to object to a charge, though, it is reviewed for plain error.

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By |2020-10-21T09:05:39+00:00October 21, 2020|Aggravated Assault|Comments Off on New Jersey Court Evaluates Jury Charges in Criminal Matters

New Jersey Court Discusses the Crime of Insider Trading Under Federal Law

There are many acts that may constitute “white-collar crimes,” which are offenses that are financially motivated and usually committed by business professionals. For example, engaging in insider trading will often lead to criminal charges. Recently, a New Jersey court refuted a defendant’s claims that insider trading is not a crime under any state or federal statute, and therefore the charges brought against him must be dismissed. If you are charged with insider trading or another white-collar crime, it is advisable to speak to a practiced New Jersey criminal defense attorney to discuss your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant worked as an attorney at a publicly-traded technology company. He was a member of the company’s disclosure committee and therefore had access to the company’s SEC filings. The Government alleged that from 2011 through 2016, the defendant engaged in an insider trading scheme to defraud both the company and its shareholders. Specifically, he used private information he received as a member of the disclosure committee to make trades before the information was made public. In doing so, the defendant realized a benefit of over half a million dollars. He was subsequently charged with twelve counts of securities and wire fraud. He then filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the criminal insider trading laws were unconstitutional because no statute explicitly defined insider trading as a crime.

The Crime of Insider Trading Under Federal Law

15 U.S.C. 78j prohibits the use of any deceptive or manipulative device in violation of the regulations and rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that were enacted to protect investors and the public interest. The court explained that insider trading is considered a deceptive trade practice under the classical theory of interpretation of section 78j. In other words, courts have interpreted a deceptive or manipulative device to include trades made by a corporate insider based on information that is material and not disclosed to the public.

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By |2020-10-14T09:19:46+00:00October 14, 2020|White Collar Crimes|Comments Off on New Jersey Court Discusses the Crime of Insider Trading Under Federal Law

Court Discusses the Sufficiency of a Jury Instruction in a Criminal Trial in New Jersey

Generally, when a person is tried on criminal charges, the court will instruct the jury as to the elements of the crime, to help the jurors to accurately determine whether the defendant is guilty or innocent. Thus, if a judge fails to adequately instruct a jury on a charged offense and the defendant is convicted regardless, it may constitute a violation of the defendant’s right to due process and a fair trial. The method for determining the sufficiency of jury instructions was recently discussed in a New Jersey case in which the defendant appealed his conviction for burglary, arguing that the instructions were inadequate. If you are accused of burglary or another crime, it is prudent to consult a trusted New Jersey criminal defense attorney to assess your charges and possible defenses.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant broke into his neighbor’s home via the window, along with an accomplice. The defendant dragged the neighbor through the home, threatening her, and physically assaulted her before leaving. The accomplice physically attacked the neighbor’s friend, who was staying at her home that evening as well. The defendant did not take anything from the home, but the neighbor suffered injuries due to the attack.

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with numerous crimes, including burglary. He was convicted as charged, after which he appealed on several grounds. As to the burglary charge, he argued the trial court failed to properly instruct the jury as to the elements of the crime, thereby violating his rights to due process and a fair trial.

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By |2020-10-06T18:15:49+00:00October 6, 2020|Burglary|Comments Off on Court Discusses the Sufficiency of a Jury Instruction in a Criminal Trial in New Jersey

New Jersey Court Discusses Plain Error in Issuing Criminal Sentences

When a defendant is convicted of a crime, the sentencing court will typically assess his or her prior criminal record to determine an appropriate sentence. Further, while the courts often must adhere to sentencing guidelines, they can issue a reduced sentence if they find there are mitigating factors that warrant leniency. Thus, if a court relies on inaccurate information regarding a defendant’s background and history, it can result in a sentencing error and may provide a basis for asking the sentence to be vacated. This was demonstrated in a recent New Jersey case in which the court issued a sentence to a defendant convicted of illegal reentry into the United States based on facts that were inaccurate. If you are charged with a state or federal crime, it is in your best interest to speak to an experienced New Jersey criminal defense attorney to consider what defenses you may be able to assert.

Factual and Procedural History  

It is reported that the defendant was arrested in 2018 for illegal reentry into the United States. He pled guilty to his charges. Prior to his 2018 arrest, he had been convicted in March 2001 on drug charges, after which he was removed from the country. He reentered illegally and was convicted of state and federal drug crimes in 2007, after which he was once again deported in 2013. His most recent arrest was after his 2013 return.

Allegedly, during the sentencing hearing, the defendant argued that his most recent return was not to engage in criminal activity, but so that he could assist his wife with their children. The judge, in recounting the defendant’s criminal history, improperly stated that the defendant was convicted of drug crimes after the birth of his children and that he was deported three times for such crimes, rather than two. After his sentence was issued, the defendant appealed, arguing that the errors undermined his request for leniency.

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By |2020-09-29T15:58:21+00:00September 29, 2020|Criminal Laws Explained, Drug Offenses|Comments Off on New Jersey Court Discusses Plain Error in Issuing Criminal Sentences

New Jersey Court Discusses Combining Indictments for Trial

If a criminal defendant is charged with multiple offenses stemming from different incidents, the State will often try the defendant separately for each event. In some instances, though, the State may join multiple indictments for trial. While this is generally permissible, it may be barred in certain circumstances. Recently, a New Jersey court discussed when multiple indictments can be combined at trial, in a case in which the defendant was charged with two separate acts of shoplifting. If you are accused of committing one or more crimes, it is critical to retain an aggressive New Jersey criminal defense attorney who will fight to protect your rights.

Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant took merchandise from a video game store in January of 2014. Then, in September 2015, he reportedly stole merchandise from a second video game store. The police used surveillance footage from the second incident to investigate both crimes, after which the defendant was indicted for two separate counts of third-degree shoplifting, one for each incident.

The State moved to join the indictments for trial, arguing in part that evidence relating to each crime would be admissible in both trials if the cases were tried separately. The court granted the motion, and the defendant was convicted of third-degree and fourth-degree shoplifting. He appealed, arguing in part that the joinder of the indictments for trial was improper as the evidence of either event would not have been admissible if there were separate hearings.

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By |2020-09-22T19:44:19+00:00September 22, 2020|Theft Charges|Comments Off on New Jersey Court Discusses Combining Indictments for Trial

New Jersey Court Discusses the Elements of Kidnapping Charges

In any criminal case, the State must prove each element of the charged offense in order to obtain a guilty verdict. Thus, if the State cannot demonstrate an element of a crime, the defendant should not be convicted, and any conviction based on inadequate facts should be overturned. In a recent case, a New Jersey appellate court discussed what the State must establish to prove guilt for a kidnapping offense, specifically discussing the element of a substantial period of confinement. If you are charged with kidnapping or any other felony, it is advisable to consult a knowledgeable New Jersey criminal defense attorney to assess what evidence the State may produce against you.

Factual History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant held a knife to a woman’s neck and forced her to perform sex acts for several hours, despite her protests. She was ultimately rescued by a passerby. The defendant was charged with numerous crimes, including first-degree kidnapping. He was convicted as charged, after which he appealed, arguing that the State had failed to prove the substantial period of confinement requirement of the kidnapping offense. His appeal was granted, after which the State appealed. On appeal, the appellate court reinstated the defendant’s conviction.

The Substantial Period of Confinement Element of Kidnapping Crimes

Under the relevant statute, a person that moves a party a substantial distance or unlawfully confines someone else for a substantial period will be found guilty of kidnapping if the act is undertaken for the purpose of committing a crime or inflicting bodily harm. Further, unless a defendant releases his or her victim unharmed and in a safe environment, kidnapping is a first-degree crime. The statute does not define the terms substantial distance or significant period, however.

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By |2020-09-15T16:31:53+00:00September 15, 2020|Kidnapping|Comments Off on New Jersey Court Discusses the Elements of Kidnapping Charges

New Jersey Court Explains the Right to Confront Witnesses in Criminal Matters

Criminal defendants are afforded the right to confront any witnesses that testify against them by both the New Jersey and the United States Constitutions. Thus, if a defendant is denied the right to cross-examine a witness, it may result in a miscarriage of justice. There are some limitations to the right to confront witnesses, though, that may constrain a defendant’s right to question a witness regarding certain topics. Recently, a New Jersey court addressed the issue of whether a criminal defendant that is charged with the same crime as a cooperating witness may question the witness regarding his sentencing exposure. If you are charged with a criminal offense, it is essential to retain a dedicated New Jersey criminal defense attorney who will fight to help you seek a just outcome.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant, the witness, and another individual were arrested and charged with burglary. The witness accepted a cooperating plea offer, agreeing to testify against the defendant and the other individual in exchange for a three-year sentence. The trial judge suggested a modification of the agreement, which ultimately resulted in a reduced sentence of one hundred and eighty days in jail, followed by probation. The witness then testified against the defendant at trial.

Allegedly, in an attempt to establish the bias of the witness, the defendant’s counsel tried to question the witness regarding his plea negotiations and the sentence he would have faced if he had not agreed to testify against the defendant. The trial court barred the attorney from asking such questions, however, stating that it could prejudice the jury. The defendant was convicted and sentenced to seven years imprisonment, after which he appealed, arguing that the trial court’s limitation of his cross-examination of the witness deprived him of his right to confrontation.

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By |2020-09-08T15:40:40+00:00September 8, 2020|Burglary|Comments Off on New Jersey Court Explains the Right to Confront Witnesses in Criminal Matters

Court Discusses Juvenile Waiver Decisions in Criminal Cases in New Jersey

Generally, criminal suspects that are juveniles are treated differently than adult offenders by the criminal justice system and are afforded greater rights. In some instances in which a crime allegedly committed by a minor is egregious, however, the State may move for a waiver that would allow the minor to be prosecuted as an adult. In a recent case, a New Jersey appellate court discussed the appropriate procedures for determining whether a juvenile that is charged with a grave crime should be waived to the Criminal Part and tried as an adult. If you or your child are accused of committing a crime, it is critical to understand your rights, and you should speak with a trusted New Jersey criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the defendant was accused of sexually assaulting a five-year-old boy. The defendant, who was seventeen at the time the offense was reportedly committed, suffered from intellectual disabilities, which an expert psychiatrist stated resulted in the defendant’s intellectual age being the same as that of a thirteen-year-old child. The State requested that the defendant be waived to the Criminal Part due to the serious nature of his offenses. The trial court granted the waiver, and the defendant appealed. On appeal, the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling.

Evaluating Whether a Juvenile Defendant Should be Waived to the Criminal Part

Under New Jersey’s revised waiver statute, the minimum age for an offender to be eligible for waiver is fifteen. Additionally, a waiver motion must be accompanied by a written statement of reasons that explicitly explains the facts used to assess the waiver factors enumerated under the statute, along with an explanation of how the evaluation of those facts supports a waiver for the juvenile in question.

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By |2020-08-28T16:32:49+00:00August 28, 2020|Juvenile, Sex Crimes|Comments Off on Court Discusses Juvenile Waiver Decisions in Criminal Cases in New Jersey
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