Monday, April 8, 2019

Jury Selections are Open to the Family and Public

The trial judge cannot bar the public or family members or friends from criminal jury trials during jury selections, and if so, calls for automatic reversal.

The New Jersey appellate division has held repeatedly that barring the public from the court room, even during jury selections is impermissible and calls for an automatic reversal in the event of a conviction.  In numerous occasions, criminal convictions have been reversed when this happens.  State v. Cuccio, State v. Clark Simon, (which was a case which I tried and was reversed for this reason by the appellate division) to name a few.

Rule 1:8-3(g) provides that the trial judge must allow the public access to the court room during all stages of the proceedings.  The rule provides in pertinent part:
(g) Jury Selection Must be Conducted in Open Court. Subject to (1) and (2) below, the public must be provided reasonable access to the courtroom during the jury selection portion of the trial. (1) Exclusion of Public from Courtroom; Compelling Reasons; Alternatives. The trial judge may not exclude the public from the courtroom unless there is a compelling need to do so. In making that determination, the trial judge shall first consider reasonable alternatives, such as holding jury selection in a larger courtroom, if one is available. If there are compelling reasons to exclude the public from the courtroom, the judge shall consider alternative ways to permit observation, including electronic means. The trial judge shall issue a statement of reasons for limiting or denying public access to jury selection. (2) Voir Dire of Individual Jurors. The requirement of public access.

Prepared as a public service by the Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq. Fighting for the criminal accused for 29-years.

Possession with intent, aggregation of amounts no longer permitted in federal prosecutions

Prepared as a public service from the Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Elizabeth, New Jersey, a criminal defense attorney fighting for your acquittal.
(Telephone, 908-354-7006)

In United States v. Rowe, a federal appeals court reversed a 1,000 grams of heroin case based on the fact that the defendant was engaged in numerous smaller sales.
The Third Circuit held that the Prosecutor can no longer aggregate the sales.  In this case the court held that it was improper for the government to add up several smaller possessions and distributions to reach the 1,000 gram level.

In order to convict the defendant for possession with intent to distribute the thousand grams the defendant had to possess and intent to distribute this amount at a single time.

Although this law does not apply in New Jersey it should because many prosecutions of larger quantities of CDS is made by the State adding up all the quantities to reach the over 5 ounce level.

The court turned to the reasoning in U.S. v. Benjamin (possession of handgun case), and held “we conclude that possession of 1,000 grams of heroin begins when a defendant has the power and intention to exercise dominion and control over all 1,000 grams, and ends when his possession is interrupted by a complete dispossession or by a reduction of that quantity to less than 1,000 grams.”

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., practicing criminal defense for 29 years.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

New Jersey Supreme Court-Elements of Obstruction the Administration of Justice

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq.
(908) 354-70076

March 13, 2019, State v. Fede, New Jersey Supreme Court.

The court reversed the defendant’s conviction for the D.P. charge of obstruction the administration of justice.  Specifically, in this case, the tenant living in a multi-family residential building refused to unchain his front door upon demand by the police.  In this case the police did not have a warrant, but were dispatched to the location when police dispatch reported a call of domestic violence in that apartment. 

The police attempted to gain entry to search the apartment under the “community caretaker” exception to the warrant requirement.  When tenant refused to unchain the front door the police knocked the door in, and arrested the tenant.

The New Jersey Supreme Court reversed the municipal court conviction for obstruction to the administration of justice.  Note, there was nobody else in the apartment when the police searched the apartment.

The court held that the police did have the right to break down the door under the community caretaker exception, however, the charge and conviction of obstruction to the administration of justice could not be affirmed because in order to be found guilty of that statute the defendant must take an affirmative step in obstruction the administration of justice.  The court held that the failure to act, to wit, removal of the chain lock, was not an affirmative step. 

Note, if the tenant had got in the officers way, or pushed the officer, or attempted to stop them physically from entering, the conviction would have been affirmed.

If you are charged with a Superior Court or Municipal Court criminal charge seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney who has been practicing for 29-years.  Experienced, qualified, integrity, and dedication to the practice of criminal defense.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Relentless Criminal Defense in New Jersey

Relentless Criminal Defense (908) 354-7006

For 29-years experienced criminal defense attorney, Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq.,  has been representing defendants in criminal cases in almost every county in New Jersey.

Although no attorney can ethically make any guarantees about the final disposition of any criminal case, each prospective person seeking to hire an attorney for his or her criminal case must ask the attorney that he or she is seeking to hire the following questions.

1.  How many criminal jury trials has the attorney tried in his or her career?
2.  How many complete acquittals, not guilty verdicts,, has the attorney obtained?
3.  If acquittals were obtained, the type of cases and charges in which acquittals were obtained?
4.  Counties and judges in which the jury trials were tried?
5.  How many jury trials have they done in cases that are similar to yours?
6.  Whether they have any published appellate or supreme court opinions in the field of criminal defense in which there client was successful on appeal?

If the attorney becomes evasive to any of these important questions, that attorney is not for you.

Remember a prospective client should not be guided by a cheap fee.  Attorney Vincent J. Sanzone recommends that if you cannot afford to hire a private experienced competent criminal defense, that you are better off attempting to obtain the services of a public defender.  Also, almost every competent and experienced criminal defense attorney will charge for consultation fee.  (Attorney Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., consultation fee is $250.00 for one-hour.)  Remember, the consultation fee is being charged by an experienced attorney because his time is valuable, and valuable to you in the long run.  If the attorney gives free consultation, that is normally a red flag as well.

Be aware that there are a lot of attorneys that are claiming that they have experience in the area of criminal defense.  However, before you place your future and possible freedom in the hands of one of these lawyers, it is important that you do your homework.  Also, be aware of attorneys who claim to be certified.  Being certified does not mean that they can try a criminal case, only that they passed a written exam.  Passing a written exam does not equate to winning at trial before a jury.

Lastly, like any other professional it is important to do a google search on the attorney that you are thinking of hiring to find out whether they have any bad reviews, have been disciplined, or simply do not have the experience necessary to handle or case.

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq.
277 North Broad Street
Raymond Bldg. Second Floor
Elizabeth, N.J. 07208
Office:  (908) 354-7006
Cell:     (201) 240-5716