Articles Posted in Hudson County

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In a landmark decision that underscores the evolving landscape of criminal law, the New Jersey Supreme Court in State v. Brandon M. Washington set forth new guidelines aimed at enhancing the reliability of eyewitness identification, a pivotal issue in criminal defense, especially in jurisdictions like Jersey City. The ruling reflects a nuanced understanding of the psychological underpinnings of eyewitness memory and its vulnerability to suggestion, emphasizing the need for stringent controls over the identification process.

At the heart of the decision is the acknowledgment of the significant impact misidentifications can have on the accused, the victim, and the integrity of the justice system. The Supreme Court’s directive mandates more rigorous procedures for conducting eyewitness identifications, including the recording of such sessions, to ensure transparency and accountability. This decision builds upon the Court’s prior efforts to mitigate the risks associated with eyewitness testimony, which has historically been a contentious point in criminal trials.

For criminal lawyers in Jersey City, this ruling offers a dual opportunity: to advocate for fairer, more reliable identification processes and to challenge identifications that fail to meet the new standards. It necessitates a deeper engagement with the science of memory and the factors that influence recall, equipping defense attorneys with a robust framework to scrutinize eyewitness evidence presented against their clients.

Jersey City Criminal LawyerIn a landmark decision, the New Jersey Supreme Court provided critical insights into the state’s witness tampering statute through the case of State v. William Hill. This case scrutinized the boundaries of lawful communication and witness intimidation, posing significant implications for criminal defense strategies.

The core of the dispute revolved around William Hill, who faced charges of first-degree carjacking. While awaiting trial, Hill sent a letter to the victim, asserting his innocence and urging the victim to “tell the truth” if unsure about his identity as the perpetrator. This act led to additional charges of third-degree witness tampering, sparking a legal debate over the constitutionality of New Jersey’s witness tampering statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:28-5(a).

The Supreme Court’s analysis clarified that while the statute is not overbroad on its face, its application in Hill’s case raised constitutional concerns. The court highlighted the nuanced distinction between permissible advocacy and unlawful witness tampering. Specifically, it underscored the necessity for the state to demonstrate that such communications were intended to cause a witness to testify falsely or otherwise obstruct justice, which was not sufficiently established in Hill’s case.

Hudson-County-Criminal-Lawyer-Abandoned-Property-300x169The Supreme Court of New Jersey’s decision in the case of State v. Curtis L. Gartrell presents a significant analysis of property rights and the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. In this case, the court examined the concept of abandonment in the context of a police chase, where the defendant fled and left behind a suitcase containing illegal substances. By abandoning the suitcase, Gartrell relinquished any privacy interest he had in the item, thereby negating his ability to challenge the police’s warrantless search of the suitcase.

The decision underscores a critical point for both legal professionals and the general public: the act of abandoning property, especially during a police encounter, can have profound implications on one’s constitutional rights. The court’s analysis provides a nuanced understanding of how actions taken in the heat of the moment can lead to the forfeiture of rights to privacy and the protection against unwarranted governmental intrusion.

This case is a stark reminder of the legal complexities surrounding searches and seizures, and it serves as a crucial point of discussion for those interested in criminal law and constitutional rights. It also highlights the judiciary’s role in interpreting and applying legal principles to specific factual contexts, offering valuable insights into the balance between law enforcement interests and individual rights.

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Cell tower evidence lawyer

Cell tower evidence is frequently used in criminal cases.

The New Jersey Supreme Court recently issued a pivotal decision in the case of State v. Roberson Burney, a case dealing with complex issues of evidence admissibility and the potential for cumulative error during a trial. The Court ruled that both expert testimony regarding the defendant’s cell phone location based on a “rule of thumb” approximation and a first-time in-court identification of the defendant were inadmissible. The combination of these errors, the Court held, deprived the defendant of a fair trial.

Hudson County Interpreter In a landmark decision, the New Jersey Supreme Court weighed in on a crucial issue of first impression: Must a criminal defendant be provided in-person interpreting services during a jury trial, or will video remote interpreting (VRI) suffice? The case of State v. Juracan-Juracan dives into this question, addressing a major point of contention within the legal community—especially given the significant adjustments courts have had to make in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oscar R. Juracan-Juracan, a native speaker of the Kaqchikel language, was charged with multiple offenses related to alleged sexual assault. Juracan-Juracan requested a Kaqchikel interpreter for his trial, but because the interpreter resided on the West Coast and only spoke Kaqchikel and Spanish, a second interpreter was needed to translate between Spanish and English. The interpreter himself expressed concerns about the effectiveness of remote interpretation during the jury trial. Despite these concerns, the trial court denied the request for in-person interpreting, citing financial constraints among other reasons.

The New Jersey Supreme Court reversed the trial court’s decision and remanded the case for reconsideration. The Court made several crucial points:

Police-Interrogation-Hudson-County-Criminal-Lawyer--300x158Under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution and the laws of New Jersey, suspects are entitled to have an attorney present while they are held in custody for questioning.

But how explicit must your request for counsel be?

In State v. Laura Gonzalez, the Supreme Court of New Jersey answered this question.

Jersey-City-Three-Strikes-Attorney-300x197Three Strikes Laws were adopted in certain jurisdictions to protect the public from habitual offenders who repeatedly commit certain violent crimes.  These law typically mandate a sentence of life imprisonment without parole for a third-time offender.

In New Jersey, the crimes that constitute “strikes” include those such as murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault, kidnapping, sexual assault and robbery.

But should crimes committed as juveniles be considered predicate offenses under the rule?

Although the United States Constitution and the New Jersey Constitution reflect the importance of the fundamental right to privacy, there exists a few doctrines which allow for warrantless search of a home. One such exception to the warrant requirement is the protective sweep doctrine.

Jersey-City-Criminal-Attorney-Illegal-Search-300x200The United States Supreme Court determined in Maryland v. Buie that a protective sweep made during an in-home arrest is only justified when (1) officers can, as a precaution, search areas immediately adjoining the area of arrest if they are areas from which an attack can be immediately launched, and (2) officers can look beyond those adjoining spaces if that search is based on articulable facts that would make reasonably prudent officer believe there is a threat.

Although this is the standard for when arrests are made inside of a home, what happens when an arrest is made outside of the home? Recently, the Supreme Court of New Jersey answered this question in State v. Radel and State v. Terres.

Jersey-City-Criminal-Lawyer-Testifying-Witness--300x169Witness “impeachment” refers to the process of attacking a witness’s credibility and the accuracy of their testimony at trial. The Federal Rules of Evidence and the New Jersey Rules of Evidence both allow the impeachment of a witness’s credibility by use of their prior convictions. However, when the witness is a defendant testifying in their own trial, there are specific rules that apply to the State’s use of their prior convictions.

Under the N.J.R.E. 609,  the use of a prior conviction is limited “[i]f, on the date the trial begins, more than ten years have passed since the witness’s conviction for a crime or release from confinement for it, whichever is later.” The rule also states that when a conviction is ten years remote, it “is admissible only if the court determines that its probative value outweighs its prejudicial effect, with the proponent of the evidence having the burden of proof.”

On December 27, 2021 the Supreme Court of New Jersey decided in State v. Tywaun S. Hedgespeth that a lower court’s ruling, allowing the use of Defendant’s prior convictions for impeachment purposes was not harmless error.

Jersey-City-Criminal-Lawyer-Natoli-Free-Speech--300x300On December 9, 2021 the New Jersey Appellate Division published a decision which struck down a portion of New Jersey’s terroristic threats statute.  In State v. Calvin Fair, the defendant was charged with and convicted of terroristic threats.  On appeal, Defendant argued constitutional over breadth regarding N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3(a).  Said section criminalizes threats of violence made with the purpose to terrorize another […] or in reckless disregard of the risk of causing such terror.  A three-judge panel agreed with the appellant’s arguments and struck down subsection (a).  This resulted in a reversal of Defendant’s conviction and a remand for a new trial.

In Fair, the court analyzed different opinions throughout our nation’s state and federal courts.    The court analyzed this case, in part, through the lens of the “true-threat” doctrine.  The “true-threat” doctrine recognizes that our nation has a “profound national commitment to the debate on public issues which may well include vehement, caustic and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks […]” as well as “vituperative, abusive and inexact language.”

The court then focused on Virginia v. Black which held that Virginia’s criminal statute did “not run afoul of the First Amendment” because it did not just ban cross burning; it banned cross burning “with intent to intimidate.”  The Court in Black held that a state can punish threatening speech or expression only when the speaker “means to communicate a serious expression of an intent to commit an act of unlawful violence to a particular individual or group of individuals.”

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