Attorney Jake Hudnut and a Spar Bernstein colleague, Paul Hirsh, answer questions on Marijuana laws in New York City.
Client 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
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
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.
Client 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
Client 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
Client was charged with being the ring leader of a shoplifting scheme that stole over $100,000 from various departments stores New Jersey and New York. Client was related to the shoplifters, and her car was driven by some of the shoplifters, but no evidence put client in the stores at the time of the thefts or profiting from same. Client was an employed bus driver with no criminal record. Her plea offer was over five years in New Jersey State Prison.
Client was charged with first degree drug production facility charges. The plea offer was near ten years in New Jersey State Prison. However, I filed a successful challenge to the warrantless search that led police inside the home that the client allegedly lived in (although there was no physical evidence that client lived in or operated at this location). Accordingly, all charges against the client were dismissed. Continue reading
Client was charged with breaking into a home and stealing home electronics. Client was a college student and had no prior criminal felony contact. The nature of client’s charged kept him out of Pre-Trial Intervention, the diversionary program he would normally be eligible for as a first-time offender. His plea offer was a plea to a felony with probation, but this would have affected his college financial aid and ability to find work after graduation. Continue reading
Client was charged with second degree possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute. He was a passenger in a car that was pulled over for speeding before cocaine was found in the backseat within client’s reach. Client’s plea offer was five years in state prison and he faced up to ten years if found guilty at trial. However, he was found not guilty of all charges by a jury. Continue reading
Client was charged in state court with first degree armed robbery for the alleged forceful theft of a local restaurant owner. The plea offer was fifteen years in state prison and, if convicted at trial, the maximum sentence was twenty years in state prison. However, a review of the state’s proof indicated that the alleged victim was a defendant in a federal prosecution and client had already plead guilty to robbing this victim and agreed to cooperate in any federal prosecution against her. A motion to dismiss the state charges on the grounds of double jeopardy was granted and the first degree armed robbery charges were dropped. Continue reading
Client was charged with first degree possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute. Client accepted and signed for a package containing three kilograms of cocaine at the Union City Post Office. The package had been sent from Puerto Rico, and postal inspectors and local police had already determined through a lawfully-obtained search warrant that it contained cocaine. Client maintained that he was picking up the package for a friend as a favor and had no knowledge that it contained cocaine. His plea offer was ten years in state prison. Client maintained his innocence and proceeded to trial, where he faced up to twenty years in prison if convicted. After skillful cross-examination by the defense of the state’s witnesses – including a cooperating co-defendant – a jury found client not guilty of all charges and he went home to his family. Continue reading
Client was charged with felony obstruction and faced up to 18 months in county jail. Client was alleged to have interfered with a police investigation into a drug transaction in front of his apartment building. Client was offered probation (no jail time) as a plea offer. However, client maintained his innocence despite the certainty of county jail if found guilty at trial. Exculpatory information was collected and presented to the prosecutor. The charges were dismissed a few days before trial was scheduled to begin. Continue reading
Client was an interstate delivery driver and a resident of a Southern state with concealed carry weapon laws. In route to a delivery, he was stopped (perhaps unlawfully) by police in Hudson County and asked if he had any weapons on him. He candidly replied that he had a concealed handgun and a permit from his home state for that gun. He also admitted to being in possession of a small amount of marijuana. Client’s permit, however, was not recognized by the laws of New Jersey and he was charged with the second degree crime of unlawful possession of a weapon. This charges carries a mandatory prison term of at least five years (up to ten years) with a a period of three-and-one-half years of parole ineligibility.
Client was, however, a veteran, a father, steadily self-employed as an interstate delivery driver, compliant with (even above and beyond) all the regulatory provisions of his state’s weapon permit requirements, and had zero contacts with the criminal justice system in any state. A thirty-page memo with exhibits, which reflected all this information, was presented to the prosecutor. As a result, his weapon charge was downgraded to the fourth degree regulatory offense of failure to have a lawful permit and his marijuana possession charge was dismissed. This made him eligible for the pre-trial intervention program, which, after one year, results in the dismissal of all charges so long as client remains arrest free. During that time, client will be able to return to his home state and report to the court by phone. Continue reading
Client was arrested for $60,000.00 worth of theft of commercial property. Security camera footage at a storage facility capture the burglary. Client’s personal entry code was used to enter the facility. Client wished to resolve the matter by plea. However, the State wanted restitution to the complaining commercial property owners. Rather than negotiate a compromise amount, I moved for a restitution hearing where the State would have to prove any loss. The property owners refused to cooperate with the State and as a result, the matter resolved with Client owing $0.00 in restitution. What’s more, factual questions existed regarding Client’s level of participation in the incident. Accordingly, the matter was downgraded to simple conspiracy.