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Articles Posted in Criminal Defense

Warrant May be Necessary to Search Cell Phone Content

We rely on our cell phones for everything and there is no limit to the information we store on our cell phones. It is of course for this reason that when police perform an arrest the first thing they want to search is your cell phone.

But are police permitted to search your cell phone? Recently the Supreme Court has ruled on a cell phone search case that has had major ramifications across the country including in New Jersey. In Riley v California 134 S.Ct. 2473 (2014) that police must obtain a search warrant before searching digital data on arrestee’s cell phones. In the Riley case an individual was stopped for a traffic violation, and was arrested on a weapons charge. The cops took the individual back to the police station and searched his phone, obtaining evidence that he was involved in a recent shooting.

Q: What is municipal court?

A: It is a trial court that deals exclusively with cases involving city ordinance violations. Offenses brought before a municipal court are those that occur within the limits of the municipality.

Q: What types of cases are heard in municipal court?

A:  Violations of Motor Vehicle and Traffic Violations

Disorderly and Petty Disorderly Persons Offenses

Violations of Municipal Ordinances

Q: Am I required to appear in municipal court?

A:   If you were issued a summons and the officer checked the Court Appearance required box, you must appear in court on the scheduled date. Additionally, some violations are non-payable and require a court appearance. Continue Reading

NJ Criminal DefenseIn a follow up to previous blogs posted by the criminal defense attorneys at the law firm of Lubiner, Schmidt & Palumbo in New Jersey, we reported that Governor Chris Christie has signed bail reform legislation into law and has also approved so-called “ban-the-box” legislation, which makes it illegal for employers of 15 people or more to initially ask if a person has been convicted of a crime on a job application.

New Jersey political insiders had expected Christie to send the “ban-the-box” legislation back to the legislature for revisions and were surprised when the usually pro-business governor did not. Continue Reading

NJ Criminal Defense LawyerThe New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that forensic lab analysts who prepare forensic reports in criminal cases can’t be compelled to testify at trial.

The court majority ruled that compelling lab analysts to testify concerning tests they had performed presented practical drawbacks that “range from moderate to severe,” and that it was not required by the Sixth Amendment’s confrontation clause.

The court did say that it was reasonable for a lab supervisor or another third-party who had evaluated test result reliability, but who had not actually conducted the test, to testify without violating a defendant’s confrontation rights.

Criminal Defense Attorneys NJTwo minor traffic stops that resulted in arrests in New Jersey have spurred a pair of lawsuits that claim that the New Jersey Attorney General and two local police departments have violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by not providing sign language interpreting for deaf motorists.

One of the plaintiff’s was pulled over by a Toms Rivers police officer for a traffic stop in 2012 and was ticketed. He alleges he tried to explain to the officer that he was deaf, but had no way of communicating with him. After being issued a ticket, the plaintiff attempted to exit his car, but was then arrested.

Once at the police station he claims he asked for a sign language interpreter and was not given one. He contends he could not contact his family or a lawyer because the station had no videophone. He spent the night at the Ocean County Jail.

The New Jersey Senate has passed a bill that would ask voters to amend the state constitution to allow judges the leeway to deny bail to some defendants accused of violent crimes. The legislation also calls for most defendants who have been charged with minor or non-violent crimes to be released without posting any bail before trial.

Both houses must approve the bail reform package before it can be put on the November ballot. As of this writing, the General Assembly had not approved it and is facing a strict deadline that must be met if the proposed amendment is to be put to the vote on the next ballot.

Under the current New Jersey state constitution, judges must set bail for all crimes. The only exception is for capital cases, but New Jersey has since abolished the death penalty.

Criminal Defense NJA 50-year-old Newark man recently received a $785,000 award after a jury determined that he had been falsely arrested and imprisoned on murder and assault charges. He had claimed that detectives working on his case had coerced witnesses into identifying him as the person who had shot and killed a Newark woman in 2009.

According to the plaintiff’s attorney, the detectives on the case coerced two witnesses into falsely identifying the man from photographs. One of the witnesses claimed that he had taken a shot at her earlier in the same area where the victim was found shot. The other claimed that she had seen the victim get into a car with the accused earlier in the evening.

The witnesses and the victim had been working as prostitutes at the time of the crime and had known each other.

NJ Search WarrantsThe Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that a warrant must be obtained before authorities can search a suspect’s cell phone or personal electronic device following an arrest.

In a previous Lubiner, Schmidt & Palumbo blog, we reported that the High Court had decided to hear the case after lower federal and state courts issued conflicting rulings on whether police needed to get a search warrant before examining the information on a suspect’s cell phone.

In the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “A cell phone search would typically expose to the government far more than the most exhaustive search of a house: A phone not only contains in digital form many sensitive records previously found in the home; it also contains a broad array of private information never found in a home in any form.”

New Jersey Bail AttorneyThe New Jersey Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee has passed legislation that would drastically reform New Jersey’s criminal bail system. The bill had already received the backing of the Senate Judiciary Committee and will now go for a vote before the full Senate.

Critics of the current bail system argue that defendants in New Jersey who cannot afford to post bail can spend years in prison pending trial. The bill, S-946, would allow most defendants to be released from jail without posting bail. However, bail would still remain an option and those accused of some violent crimes could be held in prison without bail pending trial.

Daniel Phillips, the legislative liaison for the Administrative Office of Courts, says the judiciary supports moving away from a bail-based system. He said that the current system keeps thousands of defendants who are not a danger to the community locked up simply because they cannot post bail. “The system is based on how much money you have,” he said.

A New Jersey Senate Committee has Okayed a measure that would restrict potential employers from asking for a prospective employee’s criminal record in initial job applications and interviews.

If passed by the New Jersey Legislature, the Opportunity to Compete Act (OCA) seeks to eliminate the instant disqualification for job consideration that many experience when they answer “yes” to the job application question, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?”

Employers would still be allowed to inquire about or check into a potential employee’s background, but only after a conditional offer of employment has been made. The employer would be required to obtain consent from the potential employee and provide a notice of intent before conducting a criminal background check.

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