Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Investigating the Crime Scene First Hand

In almost every criminal case the alleged crime occurred at a specific location or locations. In every case it is essential that the attorney representing the accused to personally go to the crime scene location, to first hand view the crime scene and the surrounding area. Never should the defense attorney rely upon the police reports or police report pictures to depict or describe the crime scene area. By personally viewing the crime scene, the attorney will often discover that the state's witnesses could not have been able to view or observe things that they claim they did from their vantage point, as stated in their written statements or police reports.

Only when the attorney for the defendant personally goes to the crime scene and compares his observations to the police reports and witness statements can he ascertain whether the witness statements and/or police reports are accurate. Even if such a determination cannot be made by going to the crime scene, the attorney, nevertheless, can use his crime scene knowledge in his cross-examination to show the witness and ultimately the jurors that he is familiar with the area. This familiarity will sometimes, but not always, curtail prosecution witnesses from lying about lighting conditions, view obstructions, and distances from specific locations within the crime scene.

Therefore, when viewing the crime scene the defense attorney must bring with him a tape measurement devise, digital camera, and, if possible, an investigator, who can be called by the defense, if necessary, to refute any inconsistencies testified by the state's witnesses about the crime scene.

Therefore, if possible, an early view of the crime scene by defense counsel is an essential requirement in every criminal case in which a crime was alleged to have occurred in a specific location.

Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

When Law Enforcement Comes Knocking, Know Your Rights

Martha Steward didn't go to jail because she committed a crime. She went to jail because when she was interviewed by federal investigators regarding insider trading she made a statement that was found out to be false. Never speak, you have everything to lose and nothing to gain. Don't be fooled.

Every day suspects are questioned by law enforcement. Often they are approached with the line, "We know you didn't do anything, but we are investigating 'so and so', and we want to ask you a few questions. You have nothing to worry about ... Can we have a few moments of your time." This trick is simple but effective. This is especially dangerous when you are being questioned by federal officials, who know, but know you don't know, that anything that you say that is false is a crime under federal law. You can be completely innocent of any crime, but if you say something that is not truthful, you have committed a federal crime.

Never Give Up Your Constitutional Rights

Once you give up your constitutional right to remain silent and speak to law enforcement that right is lost forever, and cannot be reclaimed. Not only may you implicate yourself, but you now have to trust that the agent that interviewed you was honest in what you told him. In the event that you are charged with a crime, or become a target of the investigation, those answers will be used against you. Further, you now have to trust that the agent who interviewed you was honest, and did'nt write things in his written report that you never admitted to. If the agent is "dirty", or takes things you say out of context, you will now have to deny those statements, and to do so, you would have to take the stand at trial, and call the agent, a liar. A position that no criminal defendant wants to place himself in.

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq.
Elizabeth, New Jersey
Tel. No. (908) 354-7007