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Recent media have contained numerous stories about Tyre Nichols, who was savagely beaten to death by Memphis police officers.  Over the last several years, police misconduct has received considerable media attention, as it should.  However, while police misconduct obviously continues to be a significant criminal justice problem, recent events in a New York State courtroom highlight another problem that negatively affects the integrity of our criminal justice system.

Joseph Franco, a former New York City narcotics detective, was charged in 2019 with perjury and other crimes stemming from his 20-year involvement with collecting evidence of drug cases in Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx.  Between 500 and 600 convictions in these boroughs, all of which stemmed from his work, were overturned.  Mr. Franco’s case recently proceeded to trial, which a New York State Judge short-circuited by dismissing the charges with prejudice because of prosecutorial misconduct.

The prosecutors, who worked in the Police Accountability Unit in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, wrongfully withheld evidence from the defense.  This evidence included surveillance videos, communications between prosecutors, investigative memos, and the contents of confiscated cellphones.  There were also several hundred audio files of interviews of a prosecution witness, which were recorded while she was held at Rikers Island.  The existence of this evidence apparently came to light after Mr. Franco’s trial had begun.  The Judge found that prosecutors had failed to turn over evidence to Mr. Franco’s attorneys on three separate occasions, and held that this was a major ethics violation warranting dismissal.  Since the dismissal was with prejudice, the Manhattan DA will not be able to prosecute Mr. Franco again on the underlying charges. Continue reading ›

A recent decision of the Superior Court’s Appellate Division discussed the grading of shoplifting offenses.  This is important for anyone who has been charged with shoplifting, which is one of the more common offenses heard in New Jersey’s municipal courts.  As shoplifting lawyers in New Jersey, we closely track decisions concerning this offense.

Under our criminal code as currently written, shoplifting will be considered a third degree offense “if the full retail value of the merchandise exceeds $500.00 but is less than $75,000.00”.  Shoplifting is a fourth degree offense “if the full retail value of the merchandise is at least $200.00 but does not exceed $500.00.”  The statute defines “full retail value” as “the merchant’s stated or advertised price of the merchandise”.

While, as noted above, shoplifting offenses are typically heard in the municipal court of the municipality where the shoplifting occurred, it is always possible for these case to be heard in the Superior Court if the dollar amount brings the charge to the level of a third or fourth degree offense.  This is significant since the charge is then treated as an indictable (e.g., felony) matter.  A third degree indictable charge can carry a state prison sentence of between three and five years, and fourth degree indictable charge can result in a state prison sentence of up to 18 months.  Only a New Jersey shoplifting attorney can review the facts of your case and explain what your actual exposure may be. Continue reading ›

We are New Jersey parole violation attorneys who represent many parolees charged with violating the terms and conditions of their parole.  The violation process can be very confusing and intimidating, particularly to a parolee facing their first violation.  As such, we thought it would be helpful to parolees and their families to present a general overview of the parole violation process.  As noted, the discussion below is very general; bear in mind that the best way to understand any individual violation matter is to consult with a parole violation lawyer in New Jersey.

The violation process starts with an arrest and a charge.  Oftentimes, a parole officer will learn of facts indicating that what they view as a serious violation has been committed, and will then direct the parolee to report to the parole office.  The parolee will be questioned in the office, and will almost certainly be asked to give a statement admitting to the facts underlying the violation.  It is almost certainly not in the parolee’s interest to give such a statement.  The fact is that a decision was probably made before they arrived to charge them with a violation and take them into custody, and this will occur regardless of whether or not they give a statement.  Any statement given will just be used against them at a subsequent violation hearing.  Therefore, the best course of action is to say nothing and be taken into custody.  This sounds harsh; however, the absence of a statement will make it that much more difficult for parole to prove the facts underlying the charges.

Some parolees attempt to represent themselves at hearings.  In our opinion, this is a mistake since the parolee will probably lack the skills to effectively cross-examine the parole officer who will be the primary witness against them, or to know when and how to raise objections.  The best chance of success at a hearing comes with representation by a New Jersey parole violation lawyer at all phases of the violation process. Continue reading ›

If you are required to register as a sex offender, there are certain rules and procedures you need to remember at all times.  Failure to register properly can result in a charge for an indictable offense.  If you are charged and convicted, you may never be relieved of your registration and supervision obligations, even if you meet all of the other requirements.  As New Jersey Megan’s Law attorneys, we are fully familiar with these obligations, and frequently defend those accused of violating them.  What follows is a brief summary of some of the more common registration procedures and issues.  Since every case is different, a Megan’s Law lawyer in New Jersey should be consulted concerning unique issues and situations.

As a general rule, registration involves notifying the local police department that the offender resides, or intends to reside, in that municipality.  Offenders who have been incarcerated must register prior to their release.  If a New Jersey offender works or goes to school out of State but still resides in New Jersey, they are still required to register in the State where they work or go to school, following all non-resident registration procedures.  Offenders who come to New Jersey from other States must notify the police department, or the New Jersey State Police, where they are going to reside within 10 days of arriving here.  This time frame also applies to offenders who are moving to another municipality.  Like offenders moving to New Jersey from another State, they have 10 days to notify the local police department that they now live there.

Offenders must re-register and verify their address with the local police department on an annual basis.  The time frame for this requirement is measured from the date of the offender’s initial registration or most recent re-registration resulting from a change of address, and not from the date that the offender first appeared at the police department to verify their address.  If the offender was found to be repetitive and compulsive and served a sentenced at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel (“ADTC”), they must verify their address with local law enforcement every 90 days. Continue reading ›

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