State v DI, Fort Lee Municipal Court
Both DWI's dismissed
In June of 2019, the defendant was operating a commercial van and was driving senior citizens to their medical appointments. The van was equipped with a video camera which captured the driver stopping the van occupied with senior citizens and making a street purchase of ketamine. The camera also recorded the driver ingest the ketamine and thereafter go into a trance-like state and drive the commercial van onto a sidewalk and up a grassy hill. Witnesses contacted the police who responded to the scene. The police observed the incoherent and heavily sedated driver and promptly placed him under arrest charging him with a disorderly persons offense (endangering the welfare of another person) and numerous motor vehicle offenses such as commercial DWI, basic DWI, failure to maintain lane, careless driving, driving on a sidewalk, disregarding traffic on marked lanes, etc. A blood search warrant was obtained by the police and the defendant's blood was drawn. A lab report determined that the defendant had ketamine in his system. The defendant hired an expert challenging the lab results. As a result of the expert's report, both the commercial and the basic DWI charges were dismissed by the municipal prosecutor. The defendant entered a guilty plea to the disorderly persons offense, careless driving, disregarding traffic on marked lanes and improper driving on a sidewalk. The defendant received an 18-month probationary sentence, no jail and fines. The Defendant was sentenced in December of 2019 by Judge John R. DeSheplo.
State v DP, Essex County Superior Court
First degree robbery charges dismissed
The defendant was arrested in June of 2019 and charged with first degree robbery, third degree aggravated assault and third degree terroristic threat. The defendant was alleged to have beaten up a female and stolen her money from inside her purse. The Court issued an order of pretrial detention on June 7, 2019. While Defendant was held in detention at the Essex County Jail, defendant hired Clifford E Lazzaro, Esq. in July of 2019 to represent him. The victim reached out to defense counsel and indicated that she did not wish to proceed with the criminal charges against the defendant and wanted to see the case dismissed. The victim also stated that she had previously told the assistant prosecutor assigned to the case at the Superior Court level that she did not wish to go forward with the prosecution, that she wanted the defendant released from custody and that she would not be available to testify at trial. The State initially refused to dismiss the case. The victim gave a sworn statement to defense counsel which served as the basis to reopen the detention hearing and on August 2, 2019, Judge Nancy Sivilli released the defendant from custody. On August 19, 2019, the case was downgraded and remanded to municipal court. At the municipal level, the State moved to dismiss the case for lack of prosecution and Judge Anthony J. Frasca dismissed the matter in October of 2019.
State v MC, Union County Superior Court
1st Degree cocaine case, Received 3 with 18
The defendant was arrested in February of 2019 and charged with first degree possession of over 5 ounces cocaine with the intent to distribute. Defendant faced a minimum sentence of 10 years with 3 and 1/3 years of parole ineligibility. The defendant alleged that he was holding cocaine for a drug dealer who was paying him on a regular basis to store the drugs. The defendant alleged that the same drug dealer who was paying him to store drugs set him up after the drug dealer was arrested on a prior drug case. The defendant provided the State with exculpatory digital discovery. In a negotiated plea, the defendant pled guilty to possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute with a recommended sentence of 3 years New Jersey State Prison with 18 months of parole ineligibility. The defendant was sentenced by Judge John M. Dietch in February of 2020 to a 3 year term with a parole ineligibility stip of 18 months.
State v RJ, Passaic County Superior Court
Charged with 2 counts of sexual assault, DISM
The defendant was arrested in March of 2012 and charged with committing acts of sexual assault with 2 different minor children, ages 5 and 6 respectively. The defendant was subsequently indicted on multiple second and third degree offenses subjecting the defendant to Megan's law reporting requirements and parole supervision for life (PSL). The defendant rejected all plea offers recommending state prison and subjecting the defendant to Megan's Law and PSL. Defendant elected to exercise his constitutional right to trial which was scheduled for December of 2019. The defendant filed a motion and brief to suppress the victim's out of court statements about sexual acts when they were less than 12 years of age pursuant to NJRE 803 (c) (27). The defendant also filed a brief in opposition to the State's motion to admit in evidence other crimes in the present trial pursuant to NJRE 404 (b). In the middle of evidentiary hearings, the State offered the defendant a plea in November of 2019 to fourth degree neglect under Title 9:6-1, a non Megan's law offense with a recommendation of 6 months in the Passaic County Jail. The defendant accepted that reduced plea and was sentenced by Judge Adam E. Jacobs in January of 2020 to time served.
State v RM, Union County Superior Court
Vehicle stop, gun possession charge dismissed
The defendant was charged in October of 2018 with second degree unlawful possession of a weapon (gun) and fourth degree possession of hollow-point bullets. The defendant received an offer of 5 years New Jersey State Prison (NJSP) with 42 months of parole ineligibility under the Graves Act. The defendant was indicted and filed a motion to suppress alleging that his fourth amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure was violated by the police. In the suppression brief, the defense argued that the police conducted an illegal search of the defendant's motor vehicle under the false pretext of an overwhelming odor of burnt marijuana coming from the console compartment between the front seats of the car. The "overwhelming odor of marijuana coming from the console" were the police officer's own words captured on his bodycam. The police searched the interior compartment of the car and found no drugs and illegally extended the search into the trunk claiming that the marijuana was now strongly emanating from the trunk area where the handgun loaded with hollow-point bullets was eventually recovered. No marijuana or other drugs were recovered from a search of the motor vehicle trunk. The police officer's body cam video footage contradicted the false information contained in the same police officer's own incident report. The police lied in the police reports alleging the false smell of marijuana as the legal basis to conduct a warrantless search of defendant's vehicle. The State dismissed the weapon charge and the hollow point bullet charge at the start of the suppression hearing. October of 2019 result before Judge Lisa Walsh.
State v RBB, Union County Superior Court
Defendant faced 40+ years, received 364 days
The defendant was charged in November of 2018 with attempting to murder an immediate family member along with numerous weapon (handgun) and drug possession offenses. The defendant gave an incriminating statement at the time of arrest admitting to the shooting and leading the police to where the gun was buried. Several shell casings were recovered at the scene. The victim's heart was penetrated as a result of the shooting. In a negotiated plea, the defendant pled guilty to second degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and was sentenced in February of 2019 by Judge Robert Kirsch to 364 days in the Union County Jail as a condition of 5 years probation.
State v CB, Hudson County Superior Court
Faced 25 years to life, accepted probation
The defendant was arrested and charged with first degree aggravated sexual assault of a child under the age of 4 in May of 2018. Defendant faced sentencing exposure of 25 years to life for first degree aggravated sexual assault of a child under the age of 4. The State sought pre-trial detention of the defendant on the basis that there is a presumption of incarceration because the charge involved an allegation of rape of a child under the age of 4. Defense counsel argued at the detention hearing that the State could not meet it's burden of proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in this case as DNA was negative and the rape kit results were inconclusive. The defendant was released by the Court at the detention hearing on pre-trial release conditions. The defendant was indicted in August of 2018. The defendant filed a letter brief in opposition of the State's motion to admit certain evidence pursuant to NJRE 404 (b). In the middle of evidentiary hearings, the State offered the defendant a plea in January of 2019 to fourth degree neglect under Title 9:6-1, a non Megan's law offense with a recommendation of probation, which the defendant accepted. The defendant was sentenced to no jail probation in February of 2019 by Judge Sheila A. Venable.
State v AB, Somerset County Superior Court
Defendant accepted into the Drug Court Program.
The defendant was arrested after a motor vehicle stop where 23 pounds of
marijuana were recovered from vehicle's trunk during a consent search.
The defendant was indicted and charged with second-degree possession of
marijuana with the intent to distribute. Initial post-indictment plea
offer of 6 years New Jersey State Prison (NJSP) with 30 months of parole
ineligibility. 2016 case.
State v VM, Passaic County Superior Court
Defendant found not guilty of statutory rape
The defendant was indicted on 5 counts by a Passaic County Grand Jury.
He was formally charged with second degree sexual assault, fourth degree
criminal sexual contact, third degree endangering the welfare of a child,
third degree tampering with a witness and fourth degree contempt. The
defendant was 28 years old at the time of the offense and alleged to have
picked up the 15 year old victim (next door neighbor) from school at 8
am and taken her to a hotel where he engaged in sexual intercourse with
the victim. Afterwards, he was alleged to have dropped the victim off
on a city street and went to work. The school contacted the victim's
mother when the daughter was not present for homeroom and the police responded
to the victim's home and school. The victim was eventually located
and she gave several conflicting versions of events of the incident. She
was taken by the police to the local hospital where she refused a rape
kit test. Additionally, the police conducted no investigation of the crime
scene. No video surveillance was recovered from the hotel. No witnesses
from the hotel were questioned as to identifications of the defendant
and juvenile. No proofs of payment to the hotel made by the defendant
on the date of incident were gathered by the police. Most importantly,
no DNA or other scientific evidence was gathered by the State in this
case. After a 2 week Jury trial in Passaic County Superior Court in July
of 2017, the Jury returned a verdict of not guilty in one hour and 5 minutes
on second degree sexual assault, fourth degree criminal sexual contact
and third degree endangering the welfare of a child. The State dismissed
the witness tampering and contempt charges after trial.
State v ER, Essex County Superior Court
Gun case downgraded to disorderly person offense
In June of 2017, Defendant was arrested at Newark Liberty international
Airport and charged with third degree unlawful possession of a weapon
with first obtaining a permit to carry. The defendant was indicted by
an Essex County Grand Jury in August of 2017. The defendant packed his
travel bag at his residence in Philadelphia, PA forgetting to remove a
bb gun that he had purchased for recreational purposes and previously
placed inside it. About to board an international flight to Israel with
his family, the weapon was discovered by TSA during an x-ray scan and
the defendant was arrested. Plea negotiations resulted in the third degree
weapon's offense being downgraded to a disorderly persons offense
with imposition of a fine only (no probation, no community service, etc.).