Felony Murder Conviction Avoided

gavelClient was a very young man alleged to have stolen a cell phone. During the incident, the owner of the phone began to chase client. A friend of client’s stepped in and hit the owner of the phone. This was charged as robbery in New York. This is a B violent felony carrying between 8 1/3 and 25 years in prison. During the course of the case, sadly, the owner of the phone died from the injuries of the hit initiated by the co-defendant. This allowed the District Attorney to re-charge the case as felony murder. The rule of felony murder is a legal doctrine that broadens the crime of murder: when a person dies as a result of the commission of a felony, all of participants of that crime are guilty of murder regardless of intent to kill. Felony murder in New York is an A1 violent felony requiring a life sentence with a significant minimum period of imprisonment before parole eligibility.

Our office presented mitigation to the District Attorney and convinced them to allow client to plead to robbery rather than be charged with felony murder. This will save client from a life sentence.  Continue reading

Read my Op-Ed in the Jersey Journal

unnamed-1Here is a fact that can’t be repeated enough in Hudson County right now:  four people have died in the past eight months. None of them were accused of violent crimes, and the oldest among them was just 48 years old.

Read my op-ed which appeared online and in print in the Jersey Journal on this sad news, and how Hudson County has fallen short in addressing this tragedy in a substantive way.

Click here.

1983 Felony Vacated for Immigrant In Removal Proceedings

second-chance-rubber-stamp-with-text-second-chance-inside-vector-illustration-clipart-vector_csp25901254Client was a 56-year old man who came to the United States lawfully in the early 1980s, but his visa had since expired. In 1983, he made a mistake and was arrested for drug possession/attempted sale in Brooklyn, New York. He pleaded guilty, unaware that he was making himself permanently removable and ineligible to ever legalize or naturalize. In the years, since he built a career and a family with children born here as citizens. He was never in trouble again. Sadly, in the early 2000s, he found himself ordered removed because of the 1983 conviction. He was able to obtain a bond while exhausting all legal recourse.

Finally he came to our offices at Spar Bernstein, and we filed a C.P.L. 440 motion to vacate his conviction because when he pleaded he had not been made properly aware of the immigration consequences of that plea. Providing extensive proof of mitigation — all the good things he had done here in the United States since that one mistake in 1983 — we were able to convince the District Attorney to consent to vacation of his conviction and a repleader to a lesser, non-felony offense that did not carry immigration consequences. Client can now fight his removal in immigration court with a clean criminal record. He has a second chance to stay in his home — the United States — with his family.

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Life Sentence Reduced to 2-Year Probation!

freedom-clipart-5Client was charged with aggravated assault and witness tampering, both in the first degree. Both charges carried 10- to 20-year sentences, which could have run consecutively and amounted to a life sentence. The pre-trial plea offer was more than ten years. Client maintained his innocence. This was not surprising; the complaining witness had a history of making false allegations against client, including in a case in which the jury acquitted client, having not believed the complaining witness. Prior to trial, I filed motions to dismiss the witness tampering (because the underlying case had been acquitted) and to introduce the witness’s prior inconsistent accusations. The plea offer was changed to two-year probation for a call client made to the complaining witness while a no-contact order was in place. Client was able to avoid jail time and continue working.  Continue reading

Minimum Sentence for Manslaughter Conviction

Client was charged with manslaughter after the man she shared an apartment with was found dead. Client faced up to ten years in State prison. Client maintained that the incident was initiated by the decedent. I hired an expert to review the autopsy, which confirmed client’s account and also found inconsistencies in the medical examiner’s initial report. Motions were filed to this effect, and the State’s plea offer was lowered to the lowest end of the sentencing range: five years.  Continue reading

Hudnut Joins Spar & Bernstein!


Jake Hudnut is excited to announce that effective April 24, 2017 he will join the team at Spar & Bernstein, P.C., a nationally-recognized immigration law firm in New York, NY. In the firm’s criminal defense practice group, Jake will continue to aggressively advocate for the accused, stand up for their constitutional rights, and tell their stories to judges and juries. Jake and his colleagues in the criminal defense practice group will represent those accused of crimes in all courts throughout New York and New Jersey.

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Not Guilty Jury Verdict!

Charges-Dismissed1A client was charged with possession of a weapon and, based on prior criminal contact, faced an extended term in state prison with a significant period of parole ineligibility. The weapon was found among the client’s personal belongings, including photo identification. Through defense investigation, the raising of reasonable doubt, and skillful examination of the State’s witnesses (who had motive to lie), the client was found not guilty of the charges.

If you are accused of a crime or an offense, then it is important you retain the representation of a knowledgeable and aggressive defense attorney to advocate strongly on your behalf. Contact Jake for a free consultation. Attorney Jake Hudnut is here to help!

Not Guilty Verdict on First Degree Kidnapping

Anot guilty 2 client was accused of kidnapping his ex-girlfriend and committing assault. The combination of charges exposed the client to between twenty years and life in prison if found guilty.  Client’s offer before trial was approximately ten years, but he insisted he was innocent. An aggressive defense was presented to the jury, based in large part on skillful cross examination of the State’s many witnesses, and after a three-week trial the client was acquitted of all felony charges. Continue reading

Bail lowered from 150K to 7.5K in case of overzealous prosecution

A client  was charged with first degree Witness Tampering for  allegedly posting his criminal case’s discovery to his personal Facebook. He had a bail of $150,000 cash only. However, first degree Witness Tampering requires force or threat of force. Without force or threat of force, it is a third degree charge. The client’s posts had no threats of force. A lengthy bail motion brought this to the judge’s attention, who agreed the charge should not be first degree. Bail was  significantly lowered to $7,500 with a 10% cash option.

It still remains to be determined if simply posting your case’s discovery to your personal Facebook is even third degree Witness Tampering, or even a crime at all. The discovery allegedly shared was the same discovery the prosecutor will share publicly at trial in open court. This is little more than overzealous prosecution.  You can ready more from the Jersey Journal here.

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Distribution Charges Dismissed Before Trial

Case-Dismissed-headClient was charged with distributing drugs to an undercover police officer.  His plea offer included state prison.  Mr. Hudnut investigated several alibi witnesses who stated that the client was in New York during the time of the alleged sale.  No arrest had been made at the scene of the alleged sale and the identification procedure used by the police was poorly administrated.  Upon presentation of the client’s alibi witnesses and a sound legal argument highlighting the deficiencies of the investigating police’s identification procedure, the charges were dismissed the day before jury selection was scheduled to begin.  Continue reading

Not Guilty Trial Verdict!

not guilty 2A client was charged with possessing 14 vials of cocaine with the intent to sell them.  They were found in the lobby of an apartment building that the client was observed by police entering and existing with other individuals in between stretches of time standing on a nearby street corner.  The State alleged that the client did not live in this building.  The client’s plea offer was five years in New Jersey state prison with three-year parole ineligibility.  If convicted, he faced upward of ten years in state prison with five-year parole ineligibility.   Continue reading

A Second Chance for Client with 4 Distribution Cases

4T9znebTEA client had four open files for distributing drugs and/or possessing drugs with the intent to sell them.  His plea offer was seven years in a state prison and, if convicted at trial, his aggregate sentence for all four files would be well over 30 years in prison.  Client maintained he sold to support his own drug habit, but was denied special probation Drug Court because he had failed out of same ten years ago.  Continue reading

Not Guilty Trial Verdict!

not guilty 2Client was charged with possession of illegal drugs with the intent to distribute when three police officers alleged to have seen him run from them and toss the drugs on the ground.  Over thirty vials of cocaine and heroine were recorded.  Client – who was being treated with kidney dialysis three times a week – had a plea offer was five years in New Jersey State Prison and maintained his innocence.   Continue reading

Attorney Hudnut Presents at Statewide Public Defender Training


Yesterday I had the pleasure of presenting at the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender’s statewide in-house Continuing Legal Education training on “Guns and the Law: Graves Act Nuances and Using the Escape Valve to Probation.”

I spoke about my experience securing a probationary sentence after trial for a client convicted of second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon – a first in Hudson County history, which was recently upheld on appeal.  Read more about the trial here.   A hand out of my presentation can be found here: Graves Act waiver pinball.