Criminal News

Criminal Defense of Underage Drinking Arrests at the New Jersey Shore

New Jersey Criminal Lawyers Schwartz Posnock

With its abundant bars, summer influx of teenagers, and frequent concerts in venues like the PNC Arts Center, police departments in numerous Jersey Shore communities located in Monmouth, Ocean, and Atlantic Counties, including Asbury Park, Avon, Barnegat, Beach Haven, Belmar, Bradley Beach, Dover, Harvey Cedars, Holmdel, Jackson, Lake Como, Lakehurst, Lakewood, Lavallette, Long Branch, Manasquan, Monmouth Beach, Neptune Township, Neptune City, Ocean Township, Point Pleasant Beach, Red Bank, Point Pleasant Boro, Seaside Heights, Spring Lake, Spring Lake Heights, Toms River Township, West Long Branch and Wildwood, as well as Sandy Hook, continue to arrest minors for underage drinking at the Jersey Shore.

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Police Need a Warrant to Search the Contents of Cell Phones in New Jersey State and Federal Criminal Cases

New Jersey Criminal Lawyers Schwartz Posnock

On June 26, 2014, the United States Supreme Court held, in Riley v. California, that the police must obtain a warrant before they can search the contents of a cell phone.

In analyzing the Fourth Amendment issues, particularly the reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of a cell phone, the Court discussed how cellphones differ from other items that you might carry in your pocket. The Court enumerated the many functions of cellphones – as “cameras, video players, rolodexes, calendars, tape recorders, libraries, diaries, albums, televisions, maps, or newspapers” – and emphasized their “immense storage capacity.” Having all of this information stored in one place, the Court explained, collectively provides much more information about our lives than, say, a calendar or camera would, standing alone. In fact, the Court stated, because of the different kinds of data that can be stored on a cellphone, searching a cellphone could provide police with even more information about your life than they could get from searching your home.

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Pretrial Intervention Is No Longer a Post-Trial Option in New Jersey

New Jersey Criminal Lawyers Schwartz Posnock

In State v. Bell, the New Jersey Supreme Court addressed whether a defendant may be admitted to the Pretrial Intervention program after a jury has found him guilty of criminal charges, but before sentencing. The Court found that PTI is a pretrial diversion program that is not available to a defendant once the charges have been tried, before a judge or a jury, and a guilty verdict has been returned.

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Juvenile Record Will No Longer Prevent Expungement of Adult Criminal Charges – The Criminal Defense Attorneys of Schwartz & Posnock Can Obtain an Expungement on Your Behalf

New Jersey Criminal Lawyers Schwartz Posnock

The New Jersey Supreme Court has decided that prior juvenile court convictions do not qualify as “prior crimes,” excluding expungement of an adult criminal record.

In the Matter of Expungement Application of D.J.B. was decided by the Court on January 23, 2014. While a teenager, D.J.B. was adjudged delinquent on several occasions for offenses that, if committed by an adult, would amount to indictable criminal charges, including burglary, theft, and various drug-related offenses.
D.J.B. also had an adult record, including a conviction for receiving stolen property.

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Criminal Discovery Demands By New Jersey Federal and State Criminal Defense Lawyers Need to Specifically Request Exculpatory Evidence

New Jersey Criminal Lawyers Schwartz Posnock

Every defendant in a federal or state criminal prosecution has a right to obtain exculpatory information that the prosecuting attorney has in his or her possession. Under the law, criminal defendants do not have to ask the prosecutor to disclose exculpatory evidence; rather, a prosecutor’s obligation to turn over exculpatory evidence is automatic. Practically speaking, however, reliance on the prosecutor, without more, to fulfill this obligation is not a good strategy to insure compliance.

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US Supreme Court Decision Has Important Implications for New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorneys in Driving Under the Influence and Narcotics Cases

New Jersey Criminal Lawyers Schwartz Posnock

On January 21, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in Naverette v. California, a case that is potentially significant to all New Jersey criminal defense lawyers who represent clients in driving under the influence cases, and in possession of drugs / narcotics cases.

The question before the Court was the authority of police to follow up on an anonymous tip about an unsafe driver.

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NEW JERSEY CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYERS MUST PURSUE EXCULPATORY EVIDENCE WHICH MAY CLEAR THEIR CLIENTS OF CRIMINAL CHARGES EVEN AS PROSECUTORS CONTINUE TO WITHHOLD SUCH EVIDENCE IN VIOLATION OF THE SUPREME COURT’S “BRADY” DECISION

New Jersey Criminal Lawyers Schwartz Posnock

Federal and State prosecutors have a duty to disclose exculpatory evidence – evidence of innocence or which otherwise may contribute to an individual’s defense – to attorneys who represent defendants in connection with criminal charges. The obligation to turn over exculpatory evidence is an on-going obligation, and is triggered without defense counsel asking for the information. If exculpatory information exists and a prosecutor is aware of it, it needs to be disclosed. The practical problem is how criminal defense lawyers go about diligently enforcing their right to that information. A recent opinion in a federal criminal appeal aptly illustrates the problem.
In United States v. Olsen, the appeals court upheld Olsen’s conviction for possession of pills that contained ricin, a deadly poison. The pills were initially handled and tested by Arnold Melnikoff, the State’s forensic scientist. He made the pages of The New York Times for his work in a Montana case that led to a wrongful conviction. Further investigation would find that Melnikoff’s work led to at least two more wrongful convictions.
The pills were handled on a contaminated bench where Melnikoff had previously scraped ricin off of other items, though he did place a clean sheet of “lab paper” down before dumping the bottle of pills onto the table. The pills were later tested for ricin by a third-party because Melnikoff’s lab was unequipped to test for the poison, and since the testing destroyed all of the pills, there is no way to tell if the poison was on the inside of the pills (laced pills) or outside (contamination, perhaps). Melnikoff was under investigation for faulty lab practices. This was known by the Assistant United States Attorney but it was not disclosed to Olsen’s criminal defense lawyer.
Notwithstanding these significant Constitutional violations, the defendant, Kenneth Olsen, who was convicted of knowingly developing a biological agent (ricin) for use as a weapon (allegedly laced allergy pills), will not receive relief, absent Supreme Court intervention.
Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the U.S. Court of Appeals powerfully dissented, arguing that the frequency of Brady disclosure violations has reached epidemic proportions. Judge Kozinski cited nearly a full page of recent cases of Brady violations, while noting that these are only the instances that are actually discovered.
Judge Kozinski pointed out that there is little disincentive for prosecutors, who prioritize convictions over justice, to commit a Brady violation, as virtually no one goes to jail for prosecutorial misconduct, and the remedy is a retrial. Kozinski calls for judges to take action to cure the epidemic.
“We must send prosecutors a clear message: Betray Brady, give short shrift to Giglio, and you will lose your ill-gotten conviction,” Kozinski stated, before warning that, “By raising the materiality bar impossibly high, the panel invites prosecutors to avert their gaze from exculpatory evidence, secure in the belief that, if it turns up after the defendant has been convicted, judges will dismiss the Brady violation as immaterial.”
To find out more about Brady requirements and how to assure that everything is done to obtain exculpatory information in your case to clear you of pending criminal charges in state or federal court, call the experienced criminal defense attorneys of Schwartz & Posnock to schedule a consultation in our Essex County (Livingston), Middlesex County (East Brunswick), Monmouth County (Eatontown), or Union County (Linden) offices.

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New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorneys’ Medical Marijuana Update: Pending Legislation Faces Uphill Battle

New Jersey Criminal Lawyers Schwartz Posnock

On December 12, 2013, the New Jersey State Assembly committee voted to give flexibility to New Jersey’s registered medical marijuana patients by allowing them to buy the drug in another state and use it here.
The bill (A-4537) received a brief hearing before it sailed through the Assembly Health Committee at the Statehouse by a vote of 7-4. But its long-term prospects may be in doubt. Gov. Chris Christie has stated he is “done expanding the medical marijuana program under any circumstances” when asked what would happen if the bill reached his desk.
The bill would allow patients enrolled in the state’s program to possess medical marijuana legally obtained from another state program. Patients registered with another state program also be allowed to use their medicine here, according to the bill. New Jersey patients would have to buy a form of marijuana that conforms to the state’s parameters, and would not be allowed to exceed the dose recommended by their doctor.
The idea for the bill came from a Union County couple, who waged a public battle to loosen the restrictions of the state program for kids on behalf of their young child who was diagnosed with a serious form of drug-resistant epilepsy. The couple hoped they could buy a rare strain of marijuana in New Jersey that is produced in edible form by a Colorado grower that has shown to reduce the severity and frequency of seizures in other children, but does not produce a “high” feeling.
The two operating medical marijuana dispensaries in the state are not producing edible products yet. Assemblywoman Linder Stender (D-Union), the bill’s sponsor, said people should not have to leave the state to get what is a legal medicine.
“Our medical marijuana program is not functioning the way it should be and approved participants have not been able to get the medicine they need,” said Stender (D-Union). “In no way will this bill expand any of the requirements for participation.”
“Instead,” she added. “It will allow people who have been approved into the program within the existing limitations to access the strains that they need in the event of a lack of availability within our own program.”
There are 1,500 registered patients in New Jersey’s medicinal marijuana program. Three dispensaries are operating: Greenleaf Compassion Center, Montclair, which opened a year ago this month; Compassionate Care Foundation of Egg Harbor Township, which opened in October, and Garden State Dispensary in Woodbridge, which debuted last week.
The best way to insure that you do not lose your right to medical marijuana is to make sure that you strictly adhere to the requirements if the program. Keep your card in your possession when you transport the marijuana from dispensary to your home. Do not drive while under the influence of marijuana. Make sure that you keep all marijuana away from children.
If you have a pending criminal charge relating to your medical marijuana prescription, call Schwartz & Posnock for a consultation at any of our convenient offices in Monmouth County (Eatontown), Middlesex County (East Brunswick), and Essex County (Livingston), to discuss how we can assist you in obtaining a positive result in your case.

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What is the Most Effective Way to Guard Against Making A False Confession? New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorneys Advise: Invoke Your Right to Remain Silent

New Jersey Criminal Lawyers Schwartz Posnock

While the idea that someone would confess to a crime that he or she did not commit may seem implausible to many people, in reality, false confessions occur regularly. According to the Innocence Project, of the 258 DNA criminal exonerations they have handled to date, 25% involved a false confession. Juries are known to convict defendants who have allegedly “confessed,” even when the DNA evidence and other scientific evidence would exonerate them.
False confessions occur when law enforcement investigators use of the John Reid Technique of interrogation. Police officers in New Jersey as well as law enforcement officers throughout the United States, are trained to use the Reid interrogation techniques on suspects for only one purpose: to obtain alleged confessions. The criminal justice system gets corrupted because these interrogation techniques are not designed to elicit reliable information about a crime. The John Reid technique is not an interview technique. Investigators who use the Reid technique have typically decided – in advance – that a suspect is guilty, and all of their efforts are directed at getting the suspect to confess.
In the article “True Crimes, False Confessions”, false confession expert Professor Saul Kassin takes the reader through the nine-step interrogation process devised by John Reid, showing how, after isolating the suspect, the interrogator:
!. confronts the suspect with unwavering assertions of guilt.
2. develops ‘themes’ that psychologically justify or excuse the crime.
3. interrupts all efforts at denial and defense.
4. overcomes the suspect’s factual, moral and emotional objections.
5. ensures that the passive suspect does not withdraw.
6. shows sympathy and understanding and urges the suspect to cooperate.
7. offers a face-saving alternative to the alleged guilty act.
8. gets the suspect to recount the details of his or her crime.
9. converts the latter statement into a full written or oral confession.”
The impact of false confessions on society is tremendous. They can devastate the lives of the accused, they impugn the criminal justice system, and they keep the true perpetrators of crimes from being brought to justice.
Without doubt, the best way to guard against coercive interrogation techniques is to clearly and early invoke your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney when you are confronted by a law enforcement investigator. If you have been questioned by investigators, and you have given a false confession, you and your criminal defense attorney should explore how to attack the confession as false. The nuts and bolts of how to litigate a false confession defense are complicated and involve the assistance of expert witnesses. At Schwartz & Posnock, our attorneys have experience in motions to suppress statements on the grounds of coercion, failure to administer proper Miranda warnings, and in dealing with false confessions. Contact us at either our Monmouth County (Eatontown), Middlesex County (East Brunswick), Union County (Linden) or Essex County (Livingston) offices for a consultation about your criminal case. We look forward to obtaining a positive result for you.

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THIRD CIRCUIT RULES THAT INSTALLATION OF A GPS TRACKING DEVICE ON A PRIVATE AUTOMOBILE REQUIRES A WARRANT

New Jersey Criminal Lawyers Schwartz Posnock

In a new ruling that applies to both State and federal law enforcement officers in New Jersey, The Third Circuit Court of Appeals decided on October 22, 2013 that police officers and federal agents must get a warrant in order to put a GPS tracking device on a car or truck to monitor the travels of a suspect they are investigating. The decision, United States v. Katzin (12-2548), represents controlling precedent in criminal cases in the federal courts in Newark, Trenton, and Camden, and in Superior Court criminal cases throughout New Jersey.

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