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