Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Filing of a New Trial Motion Based On Newly Discovered Evidence

Of course not all jury trials result in a not guilty verdict.  In fact, depending on the county in which the trial takes place, not guilty verdict as to all counts are rare.  In federal court the chances of an acquittal are even more rare.  Stating this truth is not meant to dissuade a defendant who decides to exercise his constitutional right under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution.  Even after a guilty verdict the sentence imposed by the judge at the time of sentencing might even be lower than the plea offer of the prosecutor.  This is often the case in counties in which there is an extremely high conviction rate, and the county prosecutors believe that they run the courtrooms with their draconian plea offers.  Unfortunately, in some cases they actual do.  In those cases there is less downside risk of going to trial and taking your chances in having the jury make the call as to whether the State or Government has proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt.  In a recent case in Ocean County the defendant actually received four years less than the plea offer by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office after losing at trial.

Another avenue for the defendant is the filing a new trial motion after the verdict based on newly discovered evidence.  Although this motion is rarely granted, the defendant and his/or her attorney must be cognizant of discovering, if possible, any new evidence, if presented to the jury during trial, would have likely altered the verdict if known to defense counsel prior to trial.

Today, AttorneySanzone was granted a new trial motion in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Gloucester County.  In that case, defendant’s prior attorney was unaware that an essential witness withheld important evidence from the parties.  After reviewing the transcripts for appeal, it became clear that this witness appeared to know more than she had disclosed.  After a tape recording of her conversation with the defendant’s wife it was clear that her testimony if known to the jury, and if believed, would have acquitted the defendant since her testimony was convincing evidence that the alleged victim and lied, and had a strong motive to do so in this case.

A new trial motion based on newly discovered evidence as no statutory time limits and can be filed at anytime.

If you are charged with a serious crime you owe it to yourself and family to retain the legal services of an experienced NJ criminal defense lawyer.

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.
P.O. Box 261
277 North Broad Street
Elizabeth, N.J. 07207
Office No. (908) 354-7006
Cell No.   (201) 240-5716
Dated: December 24, 2012

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Best N.J. Criminal Defense Techniques: How to Win Your Criminal Case At Trial.

It is often asked of me, how does a criminal defense attorney win his or her criminal trial?  The answer to that question is obviously not easy to answer, because many factors and variables contribute to a not guilty verdict.  Unlike a sporting event, the best team does not always win.  In fact a criminal defense attorney can do everything legally possible and still lose the case.

However, having practiced criminal defense for 23 years I have come to learn that one of the most important factor in wining your case is preparation.  In reality criminal jury trials are not won in the courtroom, but rather, in the office.  What I mean by that is only by a thorough and complete preparation of the case prior to trial does one have a chance of wining his or her case.  This of course is no easy task because it means that the criminal defense attorney must devote countless hours in learning the discovery, the law, and the theme of your case.  Most importantly, one must devote countless hours thinking about the case and how best to defend his or her client within the legal and ethical confines of the law.

The second most important aspect of wining your criminal case is selection of the jury, and the aspect in which the criminal defense attorney has the least control is the selection of the jury.  It matters little at the end of the day, and it matters little in how much you have prepared your case, when you have selected a jury which is closed minded, prejudice or biased against your client.  If a jury is not open to the concept of reasonable doubt and the high standard which must be met by the government before they can find someone guilty, it matters little and there will be guilty verdict.  Unfortunately, although the selection process in the Superior Court of New Jersey is very arduous process often jurors that are biased and prejudiced do slip-by and are empanelled into the jury.  Sometimes potential jurors in the voir dire process will disguise their true feelings.  From my experience I am always cautious of a potential juror who seems to anxious to sit, and seems to willing to say the “right thing.”  These types of responses usually come from someone that has an agenda and wants to sit for a “reason.”  More often than not it is not to acquit your client.  Although of course the reverse can be true.  That is why it is important that someone looking to hire the best New Jersey criminal defense attorney for his or her case must choose an experienced criminal defense attorney who has tried enough cases to get the feel as which juror would be right for his or her case.  This skill only comes about with experience in picking many juries and listening to hundreds of potential jurors telling their stories and why they believe they would be fair and impartial juror and by carefully gauging their responses.  

I hope you have found my insights to helpful and of course, I wish you good luck, and that justice be done with your not guilty verdict.

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq.

P.O. Box 261
277 North Broad Street
Elizabeth, New Jersey 07207
Office:  (908) 354-7006
Cell:    (201) 240-5716

Monday, October 15, 2012

New Jersey Search and Seizure Law: How to Win Your Criminal Case in New Jersey.

A successful New Jersey criminal defense attorney must avail himself to every possible tool in fighting a criminal charge.  One of the most useful of these tools is the motion to suppress evidence. 

A very helpful case was recently decided by the New Jersey Supreme Court in the case State v. Edmonds.  An opinion written by a former criminal defense attorney, Justice Albin suppressed a handgun found hidden in a sofa in the defendant’s apartment.

In this case the Carteret Police Department acting on an “unverified 9-11 call” (this wouldn’t be the first time that the police made the bogus call to get inside an apartment), knocked on the door of the defendant’s apartment claiming that someone called saying that  domestic violence was occurring in the apartment which included the use of a handgun.  When the police arrived the female residence of the apartment said that there was no domestic violence in the apartment, and that her son was inside the apartment.  Against her will the police under the pretext of being concerned for the son entered the apartment and began to look around.  Hearing a T.V. on in a closed room, the police entered and saw Mr. Edmonds calmly sitting down watching T.V.  However, they frisked him and started to search the room in which they found a handgun under the sofa.

Because there was no exception to the search warrant requirement, specifically, the community-caretaking or emergency-aid doctrine the court suppressed the handgun.  The court noted at that point the Carteret police needed a warrant based on probable cause.  The court pointed out that all warrantless searches of homes are presumptively unreasonable and are subjected to particularly careful scrutiny.

As pointed out in my previous blogs sometimes the best opportunity to win a criminal case is with filing pretrial motions.  The motion to suppress evidence is the most powerful of these motions because once the evidence is suppressed there is no case.  In this case, once the handgun was suppressed the criminal charge of possession of a weapon was dismissed.

If you are charged with a handgun or weapons offense you must consult with an experienced NJ criminal defense attorney.  The law firm of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., has represented hundreds of defendants charged with various weapons and handgun offenses.  The law firm has represented individuals in almost every county in the State of New Jersey, including, Union, Essex, Hudson, Passaic, Bergen, Somerset, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Mercer, Burlington, Gloucester, Cumberland, Atlantic, Sussex and Hunterdon counties.

October 15, 2012

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq.
Office No. (908) 354-7006
Cell No.  (201) 240-5716

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.
277 North Broad Street
P.O. Box 261
Elizabeth, N.J. 07207

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Need to Keep Quiet When Questioned By Police

Although I have written previous blogs on the need for defendants to keep quiet when being questioned by police, I do so again.

The New Jersey Supreme Court in a recent decision affirms that scared Fifth Amendment right when it scolded a municipal court judge’s decision who took into account the defendant’s silence in its decision finding the defendant guilty.

In State v. Stas, Mr. Stas and his friend (Mr. Putz), were involved in a motor vehicle accident in which Mr. Stas’ friend claimed he was the driver.  While Putz was claiming he was the driver of the vehicle, Stas said nothing.  After failing field sobriety tests, Putz was arrested for DWI, and Stas was charged and arrested for allowing an intoxicated driver (Putz), drive a vehicle in which he had custody and control over in violation of N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(a).

A joint trial was held in which both Stas and Putz were found guilty: surprised?  However, at trial, Stas said that he was the driver of the vehicle and not Putz, and Putz stated that he had lied to the police and was not the driver.

The municipal court judge found that Stas was not credible because he had remained silent while Putz lied to the police, and said nothing.  Both the law division judge in the trial de novo, and appellate court on appeal, held that the municipal court committed no plain error in using Stas’ silence against him.

The Supreme Court reversed and held that every defendant-suspect has the absolutely right to remain silent and that silence cannot be used as substantive evidence against him or her in determining quilt.  The Supreme Court reversed the conviction and ordered a new trial.

This case is another good example of the need for a suspect in a criminal or traffic investigation to remain silent when being questioned by police.  It is not even necessary for the defendant to state that he wants to speak to a lawyer or has consulted with a lawyer; it is none of the cops business.  The suspect should simply remain silent and says that he has nothing to say at this time.  As fisherman say, “A fish doesn’t get caught until it opens its mouth.” 

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.
October 2, 2012
P.O. Box 261
277 North Broad Street
Elizabeth, New Jersey 07207

Office Phone No. (908) 354-7006
Cell Phone No.   (201) 240-5716

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Blow To New Jersey Drivers Who Enjoy Fast Driving

The New Jersey Appellate Division recently ruled in State v. Vanderkooy in an unpublished opinion affirmed the decision of the municipal court that the radar device, Stalker Dual S.L., is scientifically reliable. 

The prosecutor in the municipal court trial flew in a Stalker an employee of the manufacture of the device, to testify that the machine adhered to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration accuracy standards.  Would you expect otherwise from the employee of the company that sells the devices to police departments in New Jersey and 49 other states?

This case however, did not overturn State v. Green, 417 N.J. Super. 190 (App. Div. 2010), which is still good law, holding that the Stalker Lidar laser radar gun has not been proven as scientifically reliable.  Unfortunately, in many municipal courts throughout the state, prosecutors and municipal court judges will not dismiss these cases, although required to do so under State v. Green, requiring instead for the defendant and his attorney to come to court repeatedly on multiple occasions until the client and attorney agree to accept a plea to a lesser charge.

In any event if you are charged with a speeding ticket or other traffic moving violation it might be beneficial to discuss your case with an experienced municipal court attorney to discuss your options, and possible defenses to those charges.

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq.

277 North Broad Street
PO Box 261
Elizabeth (Union County), New Jersey 07207
Office Phone: (908) 354-7007
Cell Phone:   (201) 240-5716

New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney, New Jersey Municipal Court Attorney.

September 29, 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

Increasingly Conservative New Jersey Supreme Court Get’s It Wrong with Affirming the Conviction of J.A.C.

The New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed the conviction of defendant, “J.A.C.”, in State v. J.A.C., when he was convicted of first degree sexual assault of a minor. 

In this case the alleged victim (“C.A”) claimed that J.A.C. has sexually assaulted her two years prior to the allegations.  In this case the alleged victim was caught by her parents engaging in explicit sexual language with 17 adult males.  After she was caught she was told by her parents that she would be sent to live with her Father in the mid-west as punishment for her behavior.  Fearing the punishment C.A. stated to her parents that she had been sexually abused by her Mother’s boyfriend two years before.

The defense attempted to use these prior emails and instant messages for two reasons.  First, to show that C.A. had made up the story of being sexually abused by J.A.C., to deflect attention from her behavior to that of an innocent third-party, J.A.C., in the hope of avoiding the relocation, and second, to explain her familiarity with sexual topics.

The prosecutor objected to the use of these emails under the guise of the Rape Shield Law arguing that a minor’s use of sexually explicit text messaging, or “sexting” should be excluded, as prior sexual conduct.

The trial court engaging in the balancing test ruled that although the jury could hear that C.A. was sexting with other adult males, they could not learn of the explicit sexual language that she was engaged in.

The Supreme Court affirming that decision ruled that
sexual instant messages constituted sexual conduct protected under the Rape Shield Law as codified under N.J.S.A. 2C:14-7(f).  Therefore, the trial court did not err in depriving the defendant his right to present his defense as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution.  Accordingly, the defendant was deprived of presenting the most important evidence that C.A. had a motive for lying.  In New Jersey it is well settled that 404b evidence is available to both the state and the defense, and the defendant should have been allowed to avail himself to this important 404b evidence to show that C.A. had a motive to make a false allegation against the defendant.

In this case the jury heard the alleged victim’s story, and the jury was left with the perennial question. “why would this victim lie?”  The jury never had the opportunity to hear why she might have lied, and the defendant accordingly, was denied a fair trial.  Further, the jury never learned that C.A. had not learned about sex from the defendant, but was well versed in it prior to meeting the defendant, thus debunking the alleged victim’s credibility.  Further, this evidence could have been offered on behalf of the defense as intent evidence, which could lead the jury to the reasonable inference that C.A. was engaged in conduct that could be considered sexual aggression. 

In the final analysis it is respectfully submitted that this was a terrible decision because the rights of an accused to a fair trial was eviscerated. 

It is difficult enough for a defendant in these types of cases to get a fair trial and find open minded jurors who will listen to the evidence fairly and not make predetermined decisions as to guilt, without adding the additional burden on the defendant of taking away evidence which might lead to his or her acquittal.  Protecting victims in the criminal justice system is no doubt important, but no less important is the protecting of the criminal accused in this same system.  In this case the Rape Shield Law was not used as a shield to protect the alleged victims past history of sexual engagement, but rather, as a Rape Sword to cut off the defendant from having a fair trial and allowing the defendant from telling the complete story to the jury.  After all it is the jury that must make the decision as to guilt or innocence, and the courts had no business interfering with that decision making process by withholding important vital evidence, no matter how much it hurts the prosecutions case.

A writ of certiorari should be filed with the United States Supreme Court.

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq.
A New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney
277 North Broad Street
Union County
Elizabeth, New Jersey 07207
Telephone: (908) 354-7006

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Newark Police Department after Stalling for Years Finally Agrees Install Dashboard Cameras in Some of its Patrol Cars.

After years of stalling the Newark Police Department (NPD) has finally agreed to place dashboard cameras (or as commonly known, MVR’s), mobile vehicle recording cameras in some of its 400 police cruisers.  According to the police only 52 police cruisers have been installed with the cameras manufactured by Safety Visions.  Along with the dashboard cameras this system provides body microphones worn by the police officers to record the conversation of the officer and the person he or she is questioning.

This criminal defense and civil rights attorney has for years has called for the Newark Police Department to install these cameras on all of its patrol vehicles. 

For years some corrupt and abusive NPD police officers have abused the public at will. Because the NPD internal affairs was a joke, these corrupt and errant police officers would engage in dishonest acts with impunity, and in effect with the tacit approval of the various police directors and brass of the department.  It has been my experience in practicing criminal defense and civil rights law in New Jersey for 21 years that in the vast majority of cases the MVR cameras actually exonerate many criminal defendants, and catches the cops red handed violating citizens rights, by catching the cops engaged in excessive force, the illegal searches of vehicles, the filing of false police reports which in direct contrast to what really happened as captured on the video and audio microphone.

Some abusive police officers have come up with various ways to dismantle the cameras and body microphones.  Such tricks can range from simply shutting the devices off, turning the cameras away from the vehicle in which they are stopping, erasing or losing the tapes.  With DWI arrests, when they order the motorist to perform the roadside sobriety tests they will routinely walk the suspected DWI motorist outside the view of the camera.  In fact in 90% of the time that is precisely what they do, thus it is impossible for defense counsel to dispute whether the officer had probable cause to arrest the DWI suspect based on the field sobriety tests.

Sadly the NPD has decided to install these dashboard cameras in only a small portion of their police vehicles. Accordingly, because of the small number of cameras installed (7.69%) percent of the vehicles this will have a negligible effect on stopping the illegal conduct carried out everyday by some corrupt and dishonest members of the NPD.

If the NPD is really serious about protecting the public against abusive and dishonest police officers in Newark they must install the cameras and body microphones in ever vehicle on patrol in the City of Newark.   

There is no doubt in my mind that because the United States Justice Department is now investigated the NDP that Newark has decided to install these cameras, and that without this investigation they would never been installed.

Law Office Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq.
Tel. No. (908) 354-7006

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Dated: March 21, 2012