CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: We are offering free Video Chat services through all Apple, Android and Skype devices. This includes free consultations.

Articles Posted in Discovery

I was contacted by several municipal prosecutors this work asking if we could work out some of my existing client’s cases by something called a plea by affidavit. This mechanism is typically only used for out of state residents or those who do not have the ability to come to court. As part of a plea by affidavit, there would typically be a requirements that the defendant provide reasons in a certification about why it would be a hardship for that person to come to court.

Obviously, given the covid 19 outbreak, Courts are not requiring such a thing for some matters. Most of the calls that I received were for traffic related offenses other than DWI. However, I suspect that in the coming weeks there will a push to resolve existing municipal court matters, including disorderly persons offenses (simple assault, marijuana possession, shoplifting,etc.) through a plea by affidavit. Otherwise the backlog of cases could get out of hand for the municipal court.

That being said, I think that there is a great opportunity for many of these cases to resolve very favorably for my clients and I will continue to push for this sort of resolution. In addition, just because the courts are closed does not mead that the police have stopped working. Over the course of the last few weeks, I have seen many DWI, domestic violence, shoplifting, harassment and drug arrest, just to name a few. I have been consulting with new and existing clients. I have been communicating with police records on my new cases and police records in many jurisdictions is providing discovery which give me the ability to work towards a resolution of the case.

The attorneys of Lubiner, Schmidt & Palumbo appeared in municipal courts across three different municipalities to represent clients facing shoplifting charges. Shoplifting is defined in Title 2C:20-11 of the New Jersey Criminal Code. The charge includes not only purposely taking store merchandise, but also purposefully concealing merchandise or altering or removing any price tag or label. The degree of shoplifting or the severity of sentencing primarily depends on the retail value of the items taken or the pecuniary loss sustained by the shopkeeper or store. Under Title 2C:20-11 shoplifting is a second degree crime if the value of merchandise taken is $75,000 or greater, third degree if greater than $500 but less than $75,000, 4th degree crime if at least $200 but does not exceed $500, and only a disorderly person offense if the amount is less than $200.

One of the key aspects of formulating a defense to shoplifting is discovery requests from the state. All three of the defendants being represented by Lubiner, Schmidt & Palumbo had been in and out of court for many months. As defense attorneys in these shoplifting cases, we utilized critical strategies, including procedural arguments rebutting the production of discovery, in an effort to dismiss flawed charges. Most notably, the prosecutor(s) from each case had failed to produce discovery by neglecting to bring forth proper video footage of each alleged theft.

Generally, a court should not dismiss a case for failure to produce discovery. However, in State v. Holup, the court held that if the appropriate motion is filed giving the notice that discovery was not produced in a case, with a request that a time be set by the court for the production of said discovery, then a failure to do so after the court’s set time may lead to a dismissal of the counsel’s charges.  Such motions are more commonly referred to as Holup Orders.

Contact Information