Thursday, December 20, 2007

Double Standard Applies to the New Jersey State Police

Having represented many defendants accused of sexual assaults, I am at a loss to understand why the Morris County Prosecutor, Joseph Bocchini, feels it necessary that he conduct a full inquiry into the truthfulness of the allegations made by a 25 year female that a number of New Jersey State Police Officers sexually assaulted her at her home in Trenton on December 7, 2007.

Those in the criminal defense bar are at a loss to understand when was the last time that a prosecutor doubted an alleged victims accusation of sexual assault until such time as law enforcement did a full inquiry into the matter. In fact, as we all know, such investigations are rarely, if ever done. Rather, the sworn statement of the alleged victim is enough for an arrest warrant. Normally, the time frame from statement of the alleged victim, to arrest warrant, varies from a few hours, to a day, at most.

As we all know in the criminal defense bar, and for the ones unfortunate to have been accused of such crimes, a simple statement that he or she was sexually assault (whether true or not) is enough for law enforcement to issue an arrest warrant for the suspect, and request a high bail.

Remarkably because the Morris County Prosecutor's Office has received a complaint that a number of New Jersey State Police Officers are involved in this alleged crime, does the prosecutor take the position, as reported in The Star-Ledger (December 20, 2007) that the investigation is "a nightmare" and a "complex puzzle where investigators likely won't reach any conclusions until well after the first of the year."

In all of 18 years of being a criminal defense attorney have I ever seen a prosecutor or law enforcement agency attempt to test the veracity of an alleged victim with an investigation? Would prosecutor Bocchini extend this caution to the average citizen? I think not. When, if ever, does law enforcement challenge the truthfulness of an alleged victim that he or she was sexually assaulted? This alleged victim should not be treated any different than any other alleged victim, just because she made her complaint against cops.
It is time that prosecutor Bocchini handle this case like any other, and not show any favoritism to these troopers just because the defendant/suspects are members of the New Jersey State Police. Such behavior by our prosecutors (law enforcement officers who are attorneys) reaffirms to the citizens of this state that there is a double standard in the State of New Jersey and that cops are treated differently and that cops cannot investigate other cops.
Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq.
December 20, 2007

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