A 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 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
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
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.
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.
Following a police foot chase, client was alleged to have been in possession of a handgun that was found near the area of his arrest, but not on him. An officer alleged that client through the gun during the case. Client’s 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 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 charged with two counts each of the following: unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and aggravated assault. Each set of counts was for a handgun and a bat that client was alleged to have used against two customers and a car dealership that he was employed at. Client and defense witnesses maintained that the two customers were the instigators and that client was acting in self-defense and defense of others (namely, the elderly owner of the dealership). Client faced a mandatory state prison sentence between five and ten years if found guilty at trial, with at least three-and-one-half years of a parole ineligibility.
After a lengthy trial, client was found not guilty by a jury of all counts except one. An application to the county’s assignment judge resulted in a probationary sentence for that one charge and client avoided any state prison charge. Continue reading
Client was arrested on a criminal complaint for stalking the complainant, an ex-girlfriend, and served with a temporary restraining order. Client faced up to six months in county jail, as well as the possibility of a permanent restraining order which would have had a number of adverse collateral consequences (on employment, housing, etc.). There were, however, a number of inconsistencies in the complainant’s version of events, as well as overt efforts of reconciliation while the proceedings were pending. Collecting, memorializing, and presenting this information to the prosecutors resulted in the dismissal of both the criminal complaint and the temporary restraining order. 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.
Client was arrested with nine vials of methamphetamine and charged with distribution. With a prior conviction, his plea offer after indictment was three years in New Jersey State Prison with prior counsel. However, the difference between possession for personal use and possession with the intent to distribute makes a big difference as far as criminal exposure, and the lines between the two can blur factually. Client was arrested on a Friday and it was his birthday — nine vials may very well have been personal use. After aggressive representation of these facts to the State, the offer was amended to personal possession 365 days in county jail as a condition of probation and then, eventually, the brass ring: straight probation with no custody. Client, his wife, and his baby were very happy that he’d be staying home rather than going to State Prison.