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Assault charges are a serious matter that often are the result of the most trivial encounters. A friendly debate at a local bar between a New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils fan gone awry or a shouting match at a wedding afterparty that went too far. You may have been the victim, the target of an obnoxious individual, and had no choice but to use force to defend yourself. All of these scenarios can lead to assault charges under the New Jersey Criminal Code.

If charged with N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1A Simple Assault, the penalties under the New Jersey Criminal Code can be severe. Along with fines of up to $1,000 and jail time of up to 6 months, the most serious consequence under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1A is a guilty plea that will result in a criminal record. Having a Simple Assault charge on your criminal record has a very negative effect on future employment and educational opportunities and will affect you for the rest of your life.

The statute which defines Simple Assault provides that: A person commits a Simple Assault if he attempts to cause or purposely, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another. Bodily injury is defined as physical pain, illness or any impairment of the physical condition.

If you or someone you know has been locked up and charged with a criminal offense under the New Jersey Criminal Code, we can assist them at their bail hearing, help them get removed from jail, and prepare them for their court appearances.  

There have been massive reforms in New Jersey to rules governing bail and pretrial release. If you have been charged with a criminal offense in New Jersey, the determination of bail is a critical step in your case.

In New Jersey, prior to January 1, 2017, the bail process was usually set at a dollar amount coinciding with the severity of the crime or denied by a judge. The amended New Jersey bail reform bill “the New Jersey Bail Reform and Speed Trial Act” has replaced the dollar amount or monetary release system (asking for the defendant to post a set amount of money) and replaced with a non-monetary risk assessment.

New Jersey Police departments claim they can see and smell everything. Using skills usually reserved for a Marvel superhero, law enforcement routinely claims they can see drugs through a closed container, smell marijuana through a brick house miles away, or detect the odor of marijuana from a vaporizer pen used solely for cigarettes.

 If you have been the victim of a superman cop stop, whereby plain smell or plain view was the basis for the search and subsequent seizure of contraband on your person, seasoned criminal defense attorneys can help.

 One of the most used exceptions to the warrant requirement is the plain view exception. In New Jersey, the plain view exception to warrant requirement rule can be applied to four different sensory perceptions including view, smell, sound, and touch. The plain view doctrine is used in cases involving guns and drugs routinely, but there are requirements that need to be fulfilled for the exception to be deemed reasonable.

Last Friday, February 10, for the first time under President Trump, an individual covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (“DACA”) was taken into custody. Daniel Ramirez Medina, a 23-year-old with no criminal record who was brought to the United States from Mexico when he was seven years old, filed a challenge to his detention in Seattle the Monday following his arrest, arguing that the government violated his constitutional rights because he had work authorization under the DACA program.

Immigration Customs Enforcement (“ICE”)  spokeswoman Rose Richeson issued an official ICE statement claiming that Daniel Ramirez was a “self-admitted gang member,” alleging that “ICE officers took Mr. Ramirez into custody based on his admitted gang affiliation and risk to public safety.”

In response, Mark Rosenbaum, one of Daniel Ramirez’s attorneys, strongly refuted the allegation, saying in a statement: “Mr. Ramirez unequivocally denies being in a gang. While in custody, he was repeatedly pressured by ICE agents to falsely admit affiliation.”

Shoplifting under N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11 of the New Jersey Criminal code is one of the most common crimes committed in the state of New Jersey, and can often times be accused over mistake of fact or misunderstanding between vendor and customer. Specifically, there have been a large number of cases in recent years stemming from the popular women’s cosmetics store Sephora. The high number of cases stemming from this vendor revolve around its policies concerning free samples, which are not followed strictly by their sales employees, but can be enforced stingily by their anti-theft team.

Title 2c of the New Jersey Criminal code outlines shoplifting in its entirety as one of six offenses; however, we will be looking at the statute as it deals with purpose or intent. Specifically did you mean to take something and not pay for it? What that your intent? N.J.S.A 2C:20-11b(2), outlines the types of cases accused shoplifters generally encounter at Sephora. This section of the statute outlines that it is considered shoplifting,

“(2) For any person purposely to conceal upon his person or otherwise any merchandise offered for sale by any store or other retail mercantile establishment with the intention of depriving the merchant of the processes, use or benefit of such merchandise or converting the same to the use of such person without paying to the merchant the value thereof.”

Constitutionally protected privacy interests are enshrined in the 4th Amendment protection against warrantless searches and seizures as well as Article I, Paragraph 7 of the New Jersey State Constitution. One key exception to the warrant requirement, as well as the requirement for probable cause precedent to the execution of a search, is voluntary consent knowingly waived by a party with authority to search. For a person to be considered a valid third party that can consent to a search of property he or she must meet a few requirements:

·         The area being searched is shared with the suspect and the third party.

·         The third party has control over the shared area- i.e., they have a key to such areas or their name is listed on the lease.

The Fourth Amendment of the constitution protects people from unreasonable search and seizures, but the law is not as clear-cut in some particular circumstances.  One grey area in search and seizure law involves searches conducted at student housing owned by colleges.  College campuses are unique in that they create their own set of laws and policies that their students need to abide by while attending the school. Universities generally have very strict policies, including rules that could be seen as infringing on the students 4th Amendment rights.  Is it reasonable for universities to be able to conduct warrantless search and seizures on campus living facilities? The 4th Amendment protects people from unreasonable search and seizures, but is it considered reasonable for universities to be able to conduct random searches of students living on campus? There are two primary means by which universities may bypass a students Fourth Amendment right:

1.      Courts deem attending a university and residing in a school owned building as a voluntary waiver to follow the university polices and laws. Student routinely sign contracts consenting to random searches by school officials when living in a school owned facility.

2.      The University’s inherent duty to keep the student’s facilities safe with inspections, i.e. checking fire alarms systems give schools a regulatory exemption to conduct warrantless searches.

Although shoplifting is widely thought of as a petty offense and is generally associated with troublesome adolescents or teenagers, it can be a serious crime under Title 2c of the New Jersey Criminal Code, that can carry significant consequences. In the state of New Jersey, shoplifting under N.J.S.A. 2c:20-11, is a somewhat broadly defined offense that, if committed, can result in punishments as minimal as community service and as severe as multiple years in prison, not to mention possible civil action. Shoplifting is categorized in six types of offenses, all of which can constitute charges ranging anywhere from a second-degree crime to a disorderly persons offense. There are certain requirements of proof the state has to deliver, and multiple defenses, some of which bode more effectively than others in shoplifting cases.

The term “shoplifting” is defined in full in N.J.S.A. 2C:20-11 as one of six acts. To be issued a charge of shoplifting, one of the six following actions are to have been accused.

(1)    Purposeful removal of merchandise from any merchant or vendor without payment of full retail value.

If charged with drug possession/Controlled Dangerous Substance (“CDS”) possession in a vehicle, the penalty may be severe.  In addition to fines which are upwards of $50.00, there is a mandatory two-year loss of license. This offense is almost always coupled with criminal drug charges such as N.J.S.A 2C:35:10(a)(4) – Marijuana Possession – and N.J.S.A 2C:36-2 – Drug Paraphernalia Possession.

The state must prove multiple elements to obtain a conviction for N.J.S.A. 39:4-49.1 Possession of CDS in a motor vehicle. These elements include:

·         Driver operated a motor vehicle

In New Jersey, a request for consent to perform a search is a commonly used tactic by police, especially in drug/controlled dangerous substance and firearms cases. Receiving consent may permit law enforcement to search your personal property, car, even your home without a warrant. Per the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution and  Article I, Paragraph 7 of the New Jersey Constitution, a warrant or probable cause is necessary for law enforcement to be able to execute a search. Consent searches are a way for law enforcement to get around the warrant requirement, but are problematic in several respects.  

Who is the appropriate party to grant consent to search the property? What is the scope of the consent? Can the police pressure someone into consenting? What is the potential to have any evidence obtained by the police, i.e. weapons, drugs, tossed out of court or suppressed if the consent given to search was not valid?

The Fourth Amendment requires that consent for a search must be voluntarily given and not the result of duress or coercion.  The New Jersey Supreme Court in State v King listed multiple factors in gauging whether the consent was voluntary such as: