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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