Monday, December 31, 2012

Motions to Suppress Evidence: Your Constitutional Right Under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In State v. Shaw the New Jersey Supreme Court suppressed two bricks of heroin.  In this case a joint fugitive warrant task force was executing a number of fugitive warrants in a multi-unit apartment complex.  In the way in the officers noticed a black male (Don Shaw) leaving the apartment.  When they asked the individual his name he refused, and on that basis they detained the individual.  Mr. Shaw was detained until a parole officer arrived on the scene to check whether Mr. Shaw was listed as a parole violator on his list.  Because Mr. Shaw was listed as a parole violator and wanted, he was arrested.  In searching Mr. Shaw (search incident to the arrest) it was discovered on Shaw  two bricks of heroin individually wrapped into smaller zip log bags.

The New Jersey Supreme Court held that it was unlawful for the task force officers to detained Mr. Shaw because of his refusal to give his name.  In fact, under our state and federal constitution no one can be detained for refusing to give his or her name when confronted by a law enforcement officer on the street.  In fact when confronted by the police in any circumstances our constitution permits complete silence in response to police questioning. 

In addition, the police did not have the requisite level of reasonable suspicion or probable cause to detain him because there was no evidence other than the color of his skin that he was wanted as a fugitive in that apartment complex.

The court further held that any field inquiry becomes an investigative stop when a reasonable person would believe that they are no longer free to leave.  An investigative stop is only permitted if it is based on a set of specific articulable facts in which a rational inference can be made that there might be a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.

The court further held that the subsequent discovery that Shaw had a parole warrant was insufficient to purge the unlawful detention and that the parole warrant was not an intervening circumstances to allow the search.  Hence, any contraband seized, which in this case was two bricks of heroin was suppressed as fruits of the poisonous tree.
If you have been charged with possession with intent to distribute CDS, controlled dangerous substance such as heroin, cocaine, marijuana or any illegal drug, or other non-prescription narcotics you should consult with Attorney Sanzone who has achieved successful results in filing motions to suppress and suppressing CDS in Union, Essex, Hudson, Somerset, Bergen, Monmouth, Ocean, Middlesex, Mercer counties.
Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.
277 North Broad Street
P.O. Box 261
Elizabeth (Union County), New Jersey 07207
Office Phone No. (908) 354-7006
Cell Phone No.   (201) 240-5716
Dated: December 31, 2012

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

New Jersey Supreme Court Will Decide Whether Showing of Videotaped Testimony inside the Jury Room Requires a New Trial.

In the case State v. A.R. the Appellate Division held that the jurors’ unsupervised viewing of videotaped testimony in the jury room without court supervision required a new trial. 

In that case the judge trying the case along with the prosecutor and defense attorney were unaware that two days into this trial the New Jersey Supreme Court decided State  v. Burr, 195 N.J. 119 (2008), a case which I argued to the New Jersey Supreme Court and won.  In Burr, the Supreme Court ruled that in order for the jury to view the tape in context, and that some portions of the tape are not emphasized over other, the jury must view all videotape testimony in open court in the presence of the judge and counsel.

Because the Judge and attorneys were unaware of the Burr decision the trial court allowed the jury to view the videotape testimony in the jury room in the A.R. case.

The Burr case continues to be a seminal case in the field of criminal law in the State of New Jersey .

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.
277 North Broad Street
P.O. Box 261
Elizabeth (Union County), New Jersey 07207

Office Phone No. (908) 354-7006
Cell Phone No.   (201) 240-5716

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Dated: December 18, 2012

Sunday, December 16, 2012

How to Win Your Criminal Case: How to Obtain Your Not Guilty Verdict in New Jersey Superior Court

It is common in New Jersey that when someone is indicted by a grand jury that in the caption of the indictment will be listed some or all of the defendant’s known names or aliases.

It is essential that prior to trial that defense counsel file a motion or request without a motion that any reference to aliases be stricken from the indictment so that a jury will not learn that the defendant may or may not have gone under other names.  It is extremely prejudicial to the defendant when a jury hears that a defendant had nicknames or aliases because it gives the impression to the jury that this person had different names or went by other names for a nefarious purpose.  Although it is not illegal per se to have aliases, some people who do, have these different names to evade the law or to defraud someone.  In all cases you want the jury to decide the case based on the evidence that the state or government has on the case in which they will decide, and not on other factors or evidence which has no bearing on the case at hand.

There is a case now before the New Jersey Supreme Court which will directly decide this issue, State v. Parker.  In that case the jury learned that Mr. Parker when arrested had given another name.  Mr. Parker is seeking a new trial contending that such references denied him a fair trial.   

In State v. Salaam, 225  N.J. Super. 66 (App. Div. 1988) the appellate division held that references to the defendant’s alleged aliases should be automatically excluded unless there is clear relevancy to the alias and the pending charges, i.e., fraud case in which the defendant used other names to defraud alleged victims.

This prohibition in the use of aliases is also found in N.J. Evidence Rule 608 which holds that a “trait of character cannot be proved by specific instances of conduct.”  In any event, the criminal defense attorney who is faced with such a case must move to strike the aliases to help insure that the defendant receives a fair trial.

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq.
P.O. Box 261
277 North Broad Street
Elizabeth, N.J. 07207
Office:  (908) 354-7006
Cell:    (201) 240-5716
“If you want peace work for justice.” Pope John Paul, I

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Cross-Examination of the Snitch; How to Win Your Criminal Case in New Jersey Superior Court

Before I begin I must first alert you to the distinction between the cooperating co-defendant, and the snitch or “rat”.  In the former you have a cooperating co-defendant who agrees to testify truthfully against the defendant because of remorse or the urge to do the right thing.  This article is not about that type of co-defendant who in practice is the rare exception in the criminal justice system.  Rather, this article will focus on the snitch or “rat”, which has been given a deal or promise for a lighter sentence or absolute immunity for a dismissal of his charges or the reduction of his sentence.  More often than not this type of cooperating co-defendant is a liar and cheat and will do or say anything to get a better deal.

The job of the New Jersey criminal defense attorney in preparing for such a witness is challenging, and more often than not be most rewarding after the “rat” is exposed for what he really is, a liar that in essence has testified for something worth more than money, is freedom.

If done correctly the cross-examination of the “rat” will turn the “rat” into a defense expert witness how the government or state prosecutor will bargain and sells testimony for the “rat’s” testimony.  

If you start with the premise that the rat is lying and find some credible evidence that the “rat” is lying or will lie to save him or herself, you must be determined to verify or disprove the facts that the “rat” will rely on at trial.  In one case in which I cross-examined the “rat” for one full day of testimony, I did not object to New Jersey Evidence Rule 404(b) evidence, or other crime evidence, about the “rat’s” assertion that a day before the armed robbery (the charge before the jury) that the “rat” and my client had attempted to burglarize that same jewelry store.  The reason that I did not object to this evidence was because through my investigation I learned that the rat’s version of how he alleged the attempted burglary took place with my client was a complete lie, and I have the physical evidence from the store owner that in fact there was no alley-way window, and no air-conditioning unit inside that window as the “rat” stated in a previous statement.

In most cases if the “rat” is lying the “rat” will be exposed and you have a very good chance in having the jury accept your argument that they cannot rely on the rat’s testimony.

In the case described above the jury on November 29, 2012 (in a case before the Superior Court, Union County) deliberated for five-hours, after which they found my client not guilty as an accomplice to the armed robbery in which the rat committed.  My client was acquitted on every count of the indictment and found not guilty to each and every charge.  My client was innocent of the charges, and the “rat” was exposed for what he was a “cutter rat.”

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.
December 4, 2012
Elizabeth, New Jersey
Tel. No. (908) 354-7006
Cell No. (201) 240-5716

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