Friday, May 30, 2014

New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney Alert From the Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.

Any incarcerated defendant who is serving an extended term based on the prosecutor filing an extended term application based on a second conviction for intent to distribute within 500 feet of public housing must file PCR to have extended term rescinded.

The Appellate Division in State v. Patterson (May 9, 2014) recently held that the trial judge imposed an illegal sentence when the prosecutor moved for an extended term based on N.J.S.A. 2C:43-6(f).  The appellate division ruled that section 6(f) does not list the public facility offense as one of the offenses allowing for an extended term.

In this case the trial judge at the request of the prosecutor sentenced the defendant for his second degree conviction as a first degree crime, sentencing him to 12-years in state prison with five-years of parole ineligibility.

Any incarcerated defendant having been sentenced to an extended term based on the prosecutor filing the extended term application based on 2C:43-6(f), is entitled to a reduction of his or her sentence.

This post is being submitted as a public service as a general statement of New Jersey Criminal Law.  Note, this post is not be submitted as promising or guaranteeing any specific legal result, since each case is uniquely different, and results may vary from case to case.

New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney
Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq.
Serving, Union, Essex, Hudson, Bergen, Middlesex, Ocean, Monmouth, Passaic, Somerset, Morris counties in New Jersey

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Promises by Law Enforcement for Leniency Leads to a Remand for Evidentiary Hearing.

State v. Carl Hreha, New Jersey Supreme Court, decided May 15, 2014.

Defendant, Carl Hreha, asserted that he waived his Miranda rights and confessed to a crime because the arresting State Police detectives had made promises of leniency to him, thus making his confession not knowingly or voluntary.

Specifically, the officers had promised lenient treatment in exchange for his confession. It was alleged that promises had included that he would not be handcuffed when he was removed from the Hughes Justice Complex, would not be jailed for the week-end, would be admitted to PTI, and would not lose his job with the Attorney General’s Office.

Under New Jersey law, promises of leniency are not per se unlawful, and do not render a subsequent confession involuntary, but such promises under the totality of the circumstances may render such a confession involuntary, and hence, inadmissible.  In other words, based on the promises made, and other factors, the trial court can determine that the confession was not knowingly and voluntary.

It is well settled however, that before any suspect under custody can be questioned, that the suspect be advised of his Miranda Rights.  However, once a defendant has been so advised, the defendant may waive his or her Miranda rights and confess, but that waiver must be “voluntary, knowing, and intelligent.”

In New Jersey, the State shoulders the burden of proving
beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant’s confession was
actually volunteered and that the police did not overbear
the will of the defendant. See, State v. Galloway, 133
N.J. 631, 654 (1993). Determining whether the State has met that burden requires a court to assess “the totality of the circumstances, including both the characteristics of the defendant and the nature of the interrogation.”

Although not a bright line rule, after a 104 hearing, the trial court can conclude that a defendant’s confession was involuntary if the interrogating officers extended a promise so enticing as to induce that confession. See, State v. Fletcher, 380 N.J. Super. 80, 89 (App. Div. 2005)

In the Hreha case it was determined that the trial court improperly gave undue weight to the credibility of the detective and mis-characterized the testimony of the State police detective.

The Supreme Court took issue with the fact that the trial court mis-characterized the testimony provided by the detective.   The trial court determined that the detective’s testimony directly contradicted defendant’s version of events, and the trial court chose to credit the detective’s testimony over defendant. However, the detective only testimony regarding such promises was provided in response to questions by defense counsel during cross-examination. Instead of denying that the officers had extended any such promises, he merely asserted that he could not recollect whether any promises had been made.

Further, the Supreme Court took issue with the trial court explained that defendant’s audio-recorded statement included no mention of any promises of leniency, and defendant denied being subjected to coercion or 21 threats. That statement, however, captured only eight minutes of a lengthy interrogation; defendant alleges that he was offered leniency long before he provided the recorded statement. Moreover, although defendant twice denied having been coerced or threatened, the officers did not ask whether he had been offered leniency in exchange for his confession.

Based on the foregoing the Supreme Court remanded the case back to a new judge to determine whether the facts warrant a suppression of the confession.

P.O. Box 261
277 North Broad Street
Elizabeth (Union County), New Jersey
(909) 354-7006

New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney with 24-years experience in defending people accused of crimes in Union, Essex, Bergen, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Somerset Passaic, Warren, Camden, Atlantic Counties.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer Client Recommendation

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.

All attorneys appreciate letters from clients attesting to the Attorney’s skill and dedication. Enclosed is a letter of recommendation which my client wished me to publish as a token of his appreciate to me for the work that was accomplished on the criminal charges which were unfairly charged against him.

"I would highly recommend Attorney Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., to anyone in need of a New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney.
Mr. Sanzone through his honesty, high level of skill, dedication and experience in the field of criminal defense, has saved me not once, but twice.
There is no doubt in my mind that no other attorney would have been able to achieve the results which he obtained for me in having numerous criminal charges against me dismissed.
Lastly his fees are fair and modest for an attorney of his skill and repudiation and I was very lucky in finding him when I needed a good criminal attorney.
Because of Mr. Sanzone’s skill efforts and dedication I can go on with my life knowing that I have received a second chance.
You were a blessing to me, God Bless you and your work."

/S Steven Degani
Steven Degani
Dated: May 6, 2014 

Quote of the Day:  "All paths of glory but lead to the grave."
Thomas Gray