July 1, 2013

Possession of Fireworks Sparks Ex-NBA Players Arrest

Ex-NBA star, Gilbert Arenas was arrested in the early morning of June 27th for possession of illegal fireworks. Arenas was stopped by the California Highway Patrol after his Ford pickup was observed speeding with several boxes of fireworks in plain sight in the bed and cab of his truck.

California authorities reported that Arenas was issued a citation for speeding, was placed under arrest and will be booked in connection with the large supply of fireworks in his truck. Arenas' arrest exposes the strictness of firework laws.

fireworks.jpgAs the Fourth of July quickly approaches many New Jersey residents will head out of state to get their firework supply for summer parties and home enjoyment; but beware, bringing them back over the border could land you in serious trouble or even jail.

Contrary to what online or out of state retailers may tell you, all fireworks are illegal in New Jersey, including sparklers. Whether you are driving with fireworks in the bed of your pickup truck or lighting them off in your backyard, if you are found with fireworks the penalties could include large fines and imprisonment. Fireworks laws are enforced by both municipal and state police agencies.

Statistics show that many bodily injuries amongst all age groups are associated with recreational fireworks use. Safety concerns have led to the crack down on fireworks in New Jersey.

New Jersey statute provides any person who sells, offers or exposes for sale, or possesses with intent to sell any fireworks as herein mentioned is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree punishable by fines up to $7,500.00 and/or up to 18 months imprisonment. Possession of a significant amount of fireworks may result in intent to sell charges.

New Jersey has also codified that any person who purchases, uses, discharges, causes to be discharged, ignites, fires, or otherwise sets in action, or possesses any fireworks is guilty of a petty disorderly persons offense with fines up to $500 and/or up to 30 days in jail. This basically means that if you get caught using or even just holding fireworks, regardless if you were the purchaser or not, you could end up under arrest.

Think twice before you buy fireworks for your summer party.

July 27, 2012

Is Possession of "Bath Salts" a crime in New Jersey?

As of July 10, 2012, yes, possession of "bath salts" is a federal crime that carries with it penalties similar to those if found with traditional drugs such as heroine or cocaine. The bath salt epidemic has become an increasing problem for health officials and law enforcement in America. "Bath salts" is the all-encompassing term to describe synthetic stimulants that have devastating effects on user's bodies and the people they may encounter while high. They are also troublesome for law enforcement because they are generally undetectable by drug tests.

Signs and symptoms of bath salt use include, but are not limited to, extreme agitation, rapid heart rate, elevated blood pressure, hallucinations that are extremely vivid, paranoia, including a fear that they are being attacked, and the use of bath salts has been associated with very violent behavior. Health officials and law enforcement also report that users are often naked because the bath salts raise users' body temperatures and as a result they often disrobe.

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In 2011 the American Association of Poison Control Centers had 6,100 calls associated with the use of bath salts. That number skyrocketed from 2010, when there were only 304 cases reported to the Poison Control Centers. The increased numbers to the Poison Control Centers are indicative of the spread of the use of bath salts. What originally began in a few isolates states has become a National epidemic.

Federal officials cannot estimate the number of deaths associated with the use of bath salts because very often the drug does not show up on toxicology reports given at autopsies. The likelihood of death associated from using bath salts remains as high as other stimulant drugs that are used to obtain a high. Bath salts association with violent and erratic behavior may lead to even more deaths than typical controlled substances. Last April in Washington State, packets of bath salts were found on Sergeant David Franklyn Stewart after the soldier shot and killed his wife before turning the gun on himself after a car chase involving law enforcement officers.

The Drug Enforcement Agency cognizant of the growing use of bath salts issued a temporary ban last October on the 3 most common drugs--mephedrone, mathylone and MDPV--associated with their production. The ban became permanent this July when President Obama signed a Federal Bill that outlaws 28 synthetic drugs including bath salts. Under the law anyone convicted of selling, making or possessing the drug will face serious penalties similar to controlled substance offenses already on the books. In New Jersey possession charges for controlled substances such as heroine for less than ½ an ounce carries with it up to five years in prison and up to $75,000 in fines. Should you be found guilty of possession of more than ½ and less than 5 ounces of heroine you could face up to ten years in prison with a $75,000 fine. Finally, possession of more than 5 ounces carries a penalty with it of up to 20 years in prison with a fine up to $500,000. You may find yourself facing such harsh penalties if you are caught selling, making or possession bath salts.


July 12, 2011

Boozin' While Cruisin' Is A Recipe For Disaster: Drinking and Boating

As it heats up outside many locals from Monmouth and Ocean Counties jump aboard their boats, sailboats, fishing boats, speedboats, catamarans, row boats, kayaks and canoes to have fun in the sun. But beware, after several hours of boating its effects on the body, such as fatigue, wave motion and heat exhaustion, which can make even the most prudent boater physically compromised or downright impaired. When these effects are combined with alcohol, it raises the likelihood that something will go wrong. When something goes wrong on water, it often goes quite wrong. The health effects mentioned have actually been proven to increase the effects of alcohol on the body with respect to sensory impairment. With the number of related accidents and fatalities, perhaps a Boating While Intoxicated or Boating Under the Influence public service campaign should be launched.

Nationwide each year, hundreds of boating deaths and injuries are caused by or in some way related to alcohol consumption. Authorities have determined that boating while intoxicated is just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated, if not, more so. Boats lack brakes, so there are no breaks to hit (and then pray). Further, open water is not equipped with traffic safety devices to guide your way, aside from buoy markers. The U.S. Coast Guard and New Jersey law enforcement will be on the look out for impaired boaters this summer on local lakes and rivers. Make no mistake about it if you are questioned by a member of the Coast Guard or police. Offenders can be charged with a DUI or DWI just as they could on land. Penalties include potential loss of all boat as well as automobile operating privileges for six months. The thinking is, if you can't be trusted with a boat, why should law enforcement trust you with a car.

As with all legal cases, details are significant. Further, civil suits may follow quickly. If you have been charged with a DWI/DUI for operating a boat while under the influence contact a defense lawyer immediately so that he or she can devise a legal strategy best suited to protect your rights.

July 8, 2011

NJ Courts: GPS Tracking Not an Invasion of Privacy

Life is getting rougher on the cheating husband or wife, and divorce cases may just see an uptick. Technology has made it easier for a private investigator to catch a disloyal spouse in the act (of doing something disloyal), and the New Jersey Courts say that using a G.P.S. or global positioning system is legal.

A New Jersey judge recently ruled that it is not a violation of a person's right to privacy for a private investigator or suspicious spouse to install a GPS tracking device in a person's car. Private investigators can now freely employ this tactic to determine the whereabouts of cheating spouses, as well as to track debtors, suspects of insurance fraud, and more.

It is very likely the court would not have ruled this way if the police implanted, placed or installed the GPS device. The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects Americans from unlawful searches and seizures. The law stipulates that police must obtain a search warrant based on probable cause before invading an individual's privacy. The reason that this right governs the police but does not extend to the private investigator is because the United States Constitution only protects Americans from those acting on behalf of the government, such as the police. It does not protect Americans from private citizens. The police would not be able to implant a GPS tracking device on your vehicle that they could use to track you without a warrant.

If you were charged criminally and the police have searched your private residence or workplace without a warrant you should contact a criminal lawyer immediately. Further, if you are the subject of any legal action based upon information gathered from such a GPS device, it would also be in your best interests to consult a lawyer to determine the strongest legal strategy.

July 1, 2011

Prescription Sleeping Pills and Sleep Driving an Unexpected Side Effect

Insomniacs beware! The medication that your healthcare provider prescribed to help you sleep could cause a phenomenon called sleep-driving. Driving while sleeping, by the way, is illegal, and not a good idea. Just imagine, you take your prescribed sleeping pill, get into bed to get some much needed and often elusive rest. Then, the next thing you know, you wake up in the morning with a motor vehicle traffic summons and a note with the location of where your car was towed on your bedside table next to you. Apparently, you have been charged with driving while intoxicated, DWI, but you have zero recollection of the event. The last thing you remember is going to sleep the night before.

If you or someone you know has experienced the scenario described above, you have experienced the phenomenon known as sleep-driving, an unfortunate side effect of many popularly prescribed sleep-aid medications. Some such sleep medications include Ambien; Butisol sodium; Carbrital; Dalmane; Doral; Halcion; Lunesta; Placidyl; Prosom; Restoril; Rozerem; Seconal; Sonata.

Courts are still divided on whether sleep-driving should fall under the category of driving while intoxicated, primarily because the driver never made a conscious decision to get behind the wheel. Legally speaking, and otherwise, this is an important distinction to make. The repercussions of such a conviction are as grave as if you were found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol. If you have been charged with a DWI while you were under the influence of a prescription sleep-aid, or any medication, you should seek counsel immediately. Take every action to protect your rights.

June 30, 2011

Notre Dame Wide Receiver Michael Floyd Pleads Guilty to DUI

Alcohol and vehicular troubles are nothing new to collegiate athletes, unfortunately. So this story can be added to the others covered here. Notre Dame's Wide Receiver Michael Floyd was reportedly sentenced to a year of probation and cannot drive for 90 days following his guilty plea to a misdemeanor drunk driving charge. Once Floyd's license is reinstated he will have a device in his car for 180 days that will monitor Floyd's blood-alcohol level and will prevent the car from starting if his blood-alcohol level is too high. Floyd was arrested for driving while intoxicated in March in South Bend, Indiana. At the time of his arrest, his blood-alcohol level was 0.19%, which is more then double the legal limit. Any attorney in this position would likely be patting himself on the back. He seems to have some trouble maintaining the separation of driving and drinking, so perhaps his sentence is fitting and will help him focus on his talents.
In Indiana drunk driving is considered a misdemeanor crime. Had Floyd been arrested in New Jersey he would have instead committed a Title 39 motor vehicle violation rather than a crime. The minimum penalty in New Jersey for a DUI is 7 months loss of drivers license. Since his blood-alcohol level was as high as a 0.19% (New Jersey considers over a 0.08% blood alcohol level to be driving under the influence) he would be required to have a mandatory interlock device. This device of course would prevent the car from starting if his blood-alcohol level is too high. He would be stuck with the interlock device for six months after his license was restored.
There are many permutations of penalties and sentences you may receive depending upon the number of infractions you have on your record. It helps to have an experienced attorney on your side. If you have been charged with a DUI you should seek help from a licensed attorney immediately.

June 20, 2011

After a Close Call with a Scooter, Mrs. Chris Snyder is a Road Rage Victim

There was no way that the defendant knew he was attacking the wife of Pittsburgh Pirate pitcher Chris Snyder, and that his temper tantrum was criminal. Driving without a license is indeed illegal, as is aggravated assault. Episodes of road rage similar to his occur every day all over the country on the nations streets and highways. A professional athlete's wife being attacked, while he and their children sit in the car, is genuinely newsworthy, and will not help the defendant's chances in court.

Because the baseball player was incapacitated by back surgery seated in the car and could do nothing but helplessly watch his wife get attacked, an innocent bystander and an off duty cop were left to intervene on Ms. Snyder's behalf, fending off bites, punches with keys between his fingers, and flying shoes. As a result of his extremely poor behavior following a close call while the victim was driving and he was riding a scooter, Mr. Modhwadia was charged with driving with an invalid license, aggravated assault, assault, and criminal mischief. He is being held on $25,000 bail. This will not be an easy case for his attorney.

In New Jersey, any criminal defense attorney should be able to tell you that aggravated assault is governed by NJSA 2C:12-1(b) which governs "attempts to cause serious bodily injury to another..[.]" Based upon police notes from the scene and witness accounts, there is evidence to show that Mr. Modhwadia attempted to cause serious harm to Carla Snyder. Additionally, in New Jersey the aggravated assault is an indictable crime so it would be review by the county prosecutor and most likely would remain in the Superior Court. This defendant is headed for far more than anger management. Anyone who has been the victim of a road rage tantrum, or has had an episode of behavior which has resulted in criminal charges, should without momentary hesitation contact a highly skilled attorney who has years of experience with these types of cases.

June 9, 2011

40 Year Old Virgin Actor Gets Life For Attempted Murder

Assault with a deadly weapon and attempted premeditated murder of an ex-girlfriend could be considered the antithesis of what one associates with a hilarious blockbuster comedy. An actor who appeared in "The 40 Year Old Virgin," however, has reportedly been charged and convicted of these violent crimes and been sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in twelve years. There is nothing funny about that. While Shelley Malil's defense attorney described his ex as a violent drama queen, it was the defendant that stabbed her multiple times with a kitchen knife in a jealous rage upon finding her sharing a drink with a male friend in her own home.

A jury has convicted the actor and sentenced him to life in prison for attempted premeditated murder and assault with a deadly weapon. The assault was of course that he stabbed her repeatedly with a kitchen knife. The premeditated murder charge may be analagous to an attempted murder charge in New Jersey. The issue for the jury was to decide if the Defendant had the intent to kill the victim when he began stabbing her. In this instance, they found that he intended to kill her when he began to stab her and he was convicted of that crime. He was also charged with burglary but acquitted on that lesser charge. He can be charged with burglary because he meets the elements of the crime: he entered her home as an uninvited guest and committed a crime in the dwelling. However, it also had to be shown that he had the intent to commit that crime when entered her home. In this situation, the defendant showed that he did not have the intent to assault and murder her. This would be because he did not know the victim was with another man until after he entered the dwelling. He actually only went to her house uninvited to tell her that he had taken her pot and sent some explicit sex photos of the two of them to her co-workers. There is nothing funny about that either.

The mild upside for the Defendant is that he eventually can be eligible for parole and thus most likely will not be confined to prison for the rest of his life. While domestic violence is common, it is not likely that the average person would have this nuanced legal knowledge or even if they did, be capable of drawing upon it in the midst of a conflict. If an individual describe themselves as having a emotionally volatile temperament and intense relationships, or as being involved with this type of personality, he or she would be well served by identifying an experienced attorney to call immediately should he or she be involved in any domestic altercation in order to best protect his or her legal rights.

April 19, 2011

Bon Jovi (and others) Jewels Stolen

A man has been arrested for stealing over half a million dollars worth of jewelry from properties along the Navesink, among them, Jon Bon Jovi's wife's jewelry! Police have reported that the Beachwood man, only 21 years old, robbed a large handful of mansions and estates on Navesink River Road, and ultimately was caught by tripping an alarm in one of them. Also among the burglary victims is former head of American Eagle Outfitters, George Kolber, and a Middletown ophthalmologist.

The Defendant, Nicholas Tracy, is charged with three counts of second-degree theft and four counts of third-degree burglary. He is in jail with a hefty bail set at $100,000.00, and he was not given the option to post 10% as an alternative. This young man is in very deep, hot water and some would say gutsy, in foolish, wrongheaded, stupid sort of way for a 21 year old. It is unknown as to whether or not he was aware of the fact that he was stealing from the home of one of New Jersey's all time most beloved celebrities. The details of the reports don't seem to suggest that this inconvenient coincidence contributed to his getting caught.

Celebrity status of a victim aside, the Defendant stole a significant amount of worth of valuables in this case. Burglary, in its simplest definition, means breaking into the dwelling of another with the intent to commit a crime. Here, breaking into another's home to "steal" items fits the definition. One factor weighing in the Defendant's favor would be if he did not yet unload or sell the jewelry. If he still had the stolen property in his possession, then making restitution to the victims would be easier. Restitution is basically where the defendant makes a payment or returns stolen items to the victims or true owners. Many times, restitution is the key to resolving the case in a more favorable manner for the defendant. If a defendant is able to return an expensive item, such as jewelry, he is more likely to receive a lesser sentence. If he has already pawned the times, usually for less than they are worth, if the items were pawned for cash, and if he spent the cash with no way to repay it, the legal penalty will tend to be more severe.

His defense attorney should do whatever he can to sway the Court, and the victims, that he is a young man who has lost his way, and that with some support, he can alter his path, (hopefully) repay the members of the wealthy community he targeted, learn his lesson without posing any further threat to society. The details would have to support this position in some way, but any attorney would consider using his relative youth as a legal strategy. Of course, he is not a minor, and this young adult would have to be extremely remorseful for his crime.

April 8, 2011

Fake I.D., to Drive, Get Into a Bar, Will Land You in Jail

Real husband of Real New Jersey Housewife, Teresa Guidice, Joe Giudice can't seem to keep to the straight and narrow. It appears that he allegedly attempted to use identification belonging to his brother to obtain a fake driver's license.

Why would anyone other than a teenager who seeks to bar hop before they are legally entitled to do so want a fake i.d.? Perhaps someone whose driver's license has been suspended for driving under the influence, DUI, might be so frustrated and indignant at being denied the privilege and convenience of driving that he might attempt something so foolish. Last year, Giudice got his car entangled with a utility pole and directly thereafter failed a breathalyzer test. He then spent some time in jail for driving regardless of having had his license suspended. It seems he is determined to drive, regardless of what the law permits.

Here the Realty star's husband is in hot water due to attempting to obtain a fake i.d. A generation ago, a fake I.D. a tool used by those who were under age 21 to get into bars or purchase alcohol. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, however, the government made the process of getting identification a more rigorous and stringent one. Furthermore, the laws prohibiting falsifying identification carry far stiffer criminal penalties for those that are trying to circumvent the law now than there were then. Here, Giudice used his brother's information and official identifying documentation to attempt to get a license for himself from the New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles. He used identification fraudulently, in that he is not who he said and tried to show that he was. He also attempted to have false identification forged with the unknowing participation of the DMV. These charges carry a potential jail sentence of 10 years! Two of his friends posted $50,000.00 in bond to free him at least temporarily, because his wife, Teresa was supposedly out of town on a publicity appearance.

It is possible that his defense attorney will be able to plea bargain somehow to allow him to avoid jail. He will not, however, be able to avoid a possible criminal conviction on his permanent record. The Giudices keep the legal community busy. Listing $8 million in debt and only approximately $2 million in assets, they declared bankruptcy and lost significant property as a result, and one must presume that their lavish lifestyle has been curtailed, despite their new status as high profile reality t.v. celebrities. One place not to scrimp is a criminal defense attorney, should you find yourself facing charges of any sort.

April 1, 2011

Real Life Law & Order: Murder Conviction of a NY Jeweler and No Body Found

In a case that will likely appear on a Law and Order episode, a jeweler, whose clients have included Donald Trump and Yoko Ono, has reportedly been sentenced to 25 years in prison for killing his wife, despite the fact that her remains have not been conclusively identified. During his trial, it was determined that he knocked his wife unconscious with a piece of wood and incinerated her body in an oil drum. The theory that he used his scientific knowledge of acids to destroy forensic evidence such as bones and teeth that could be used to identify her has been accepted by the Court. It should be noted that she was in the process of divorcing him, and he stood to lose more than $1.5 million.

The Defendant, representing himself, made the argument that his confessions were inadmissible, but the Court doesn't accept it. For a confession to be considered by the Court to have been involuntary, the defense must show that the police overbore the defendant's will and he was forced to confess. In this case, that doesn't seem to have been shown. First, the Defendant claimed he confessed due to pressure from a friend, even though he didn't seem to indicate how that pressure occurred. He told the friend that his wife "doesn't exist anymore" and that "they can't find her" while that friend was wearing a wire. There appears to be little other evidence offered by Defendant to show how law enforcement did anything improper so as to coerce a confession.

The prosecution leveraged testimony from five witnesses, including the victim and defendant's teenage son, the victim's cousin and sister. His accusations that the judge is prejudiced and the prosecutor incompetent, and that his wife's family and friends formed a lynch mob, did little to strengthen his legal strategy. His statement that "it is impossible to burn a human body and leave no evidence" seems to highlight his terrible and horrific accomplishment. What ever an expert, experienced criminal defense attorney may have done for him in Court will never be known. What is known, however, is that an attorney would have been a better choice.

March 25, 2011

Criminal Sexual Assault

Three days is all it took for a released sex offender to victimize another person, a teenager, no less, and it gets worse: a disabled teenager, in a bathroom, of all places. Police reportedly found the fourteen year-old victim in Newark's Penn Station appearing as if something was amiss. She told them that she had been assaulted in a library restroom. The forty-five year-old accused had been released from state prison and was wearing an ankle monitor. As of the date of the report, it was unclear if he had retained a defense attorney.

Criminally, this person has definitely dug himself into a grave. He is a "recidivating" or re-offending sex offender, meaning that a subsequent offense will land him an automatic mandatory minimum of five years in prison with no possibility of parole, who can be sent to an additional five years in prison if he faces a new sexual assault charge with aggravating factors. Those aggravating factors include if the rape was forcible, if the victim was a minor, and if he or she is disabled.

Assessments of this sort of behavior lead many to believe that these urges are not easily suppressed or quelled. According to Dr. Gregory J. Coram, Forensic and Medical Psychologist and Director of the Masters program in Criminal Justice at Monmouth University, the acts in which these urges manifest are often unpredictable, repetitive, and non-stop. Rehabilitative treatments, are not often, if ever, likely to be effective when it comes to sex offenders.

"Due to the nature of these sexual disorders," says Dr. Coram, "it is very difficult to make any reasonable prediction on whether or not these individuals will re-offend. Sexual behavior is an integral part of the individual, and any distortions or pathology in that area will permeate their personality. Therefore, I am not a strong believer in true rehabilitation for these types of offenders. They have their signature and their methods, and the capability of rehabilitative treatment to break that pattern of behavior is something I believe to be unrealistic with current treatments."

This type of attack is very serious, and even if the sexual activity itself was not initiated by means of an attack, that is, if it was "consensual", the act would still be considered statutory rape, considering the victim was underage, and in no determinable position to give consent. In terms of legality of sexual activity, any act that is coerced is illegal. Physical force and/or threats need not be used to qualify as criminal.

You might ask, why do I need to know the law? It's not like I would ever commit such an atrocity.

Naturally, it's not expected that any reasonable person would perpetrate a crime like this. However, the laws about statutory rape are not always as crystal clear to everyone as they should be. Plainly, an attorney is in the best position to sort through the details of a questionable scenario as it may be construed by the law. The New Jersey Criminal Code states that sexual activity between an adult (18+) and a child between the ages of 13 and 16 is illegal unless the participants are within four years of age of one another. For example, it is legal for a 20-year old and a 17-year old to engage in sexual activity, but illegal for a 20-year old and a 15 year old to do so. Additionally, any sexual activity involving a child under the age of 13 is strictly illegal. It is worth noting that the gender of the victim or the assailant is not specified.

When it comes to a question of statutory rape, remember: it does not matter if both participants are willing, or even if the underage participant initiates the act itself. The law views a person under the age of 16 as lacking the emotional maturity to give consent to sexual activity, except in the circumstances provided above. And always remember: any act of forcible sex, that is, against the will of either participant, is considered aggravated sexual assault.

The courts do not accept a defense of mistaken age, e.g., "She looked like she was of age to me." The presumption is that if the participant looks underage, it should be assumed that he or she is underage. Real life often presents complications and complexities even where the facts seem clear. As such, anyone involved in an attack, or a relationship or circumstance where these laws may be considered, should contact an attorney who is an expert in this area of practice.

March 11, 2011

A Pound, or 585 Grams, More or Less... is a Big Deal!

One pound of most things is not a lot. A person can lose a pound in a day fairly easily, and gain one as well. But 585 grams, just over ½ of a kilogram or approximately one pound, when it comes to a controlled substance, is all it takes to get yourself in very, very hot water. Two nineteen year old men are certainly in some trouble for allegedly being found with an open container of alcohol, underage drinking, and interestingly, exactly 585 grams of marijuana while in their car in Brick, New Jersey.

Let's be clear: when it comes to pot, there are really only two options. The first is possession of under 50 grams, in which the charge is a disorderly persons offense (non-indictable, although you will be arrested, booked, and arraigned). The second is possession of over 50 grams. This one, considered intent to distribute, is, according to N.J.S.A 2C:35-10, a crime of the fourth degree, and can carry with it a fine of up to $25,000.00. It gets even better: possess drugs within 1,000 feet of a school zone, and if you're not imprisoned (as defined by the penal code), you'll have a mandatory 100 hours of community service you'll have to complete.

When it comes to determining whether or not there was intent to distribute, the factor most largely examined by the court is the amount of the drug that was seized by police. Someone caught with 30 grams of pot is more likely to convince a judge that it was for personal use than say, someone caught with 585 grams (about one pound). Some even try to argue that their 200+ grams of marijuana in the freezer bag in their desk drawer is for personal use, and that they just prefer to "stock up". Your personal preference of keeping a full stash is simply not persuasive or relevant for legal purposes.

In a Court of law, even with an attorney, that approach will not work. In fact, the New Jersey law allows an individual to possess a relatively large amount of marijuana, 50 grams. It's extremely unlikely that someone who possesses over two ounces of pot would have it and keep it to avoid the inconvenience of seeing their distributor or dealer once a week.

The bottom line? Possession of pot in excess of 50 grams will get someone in a whole lot more trouble than an amount under 50. So if police find you in possession of any pot/marijuana or any controlled substance, call a lawyer, obtain legal counsel, retain an attorney immediately. A good attorney will examine the details of your case, including method of arrest, search, seizure, and measured amount of controlled substance, among other aspects that might affect your welfare and determine the most appropriate legal strategy for your defense.

March 8, 2011

The Difference Between Felony Murder and Manslaughter, as Demonstrated by a Long Branch Man

So it would seem that Qumere McClendon, 24, of Long Branch got lucky on his acquittal of murder. Sadly for him, he was convicted on the counts of manslaughter and felony murder, in addition to numerous others to do with the case. This is a tough case for any attorney.

Any kind of murder is a felony. However, this is a specific name for a certain circumstance of murder. Felony murder states that if a murder occurs during the commission of another felony, say robbery, perhaps, then the party who committed the robbery is also responsible for the murder. This also applies to other crimes such as rape, arson, and kidnapping. Now here's where it gets interesting: if there are multiple people involved in the initial felony, each one of them is responsible for the subsequent murder... even if they did not have a hand in killing the victim!

For example, if two people rob a bank, and a bank teller is murdered in the process, the one who drove the car is just as indictable, for that murder as the one who actually shot the teller. The driver is as serious a criminal, in the eyes of the law, as the person who fired a gun or wielded a weapon in the robbery. Additionally, the penalties for a felony murder conviction are just as severe as those for actual murder in the state of New Jersey.

Murder and manslaughter are two different things. Murder, as it is defined, denotes certain malice involved with carrying out the act. While manslaughter is by no means an "innocent" act, the intent behind it is perceived to be one less malicious, less cold, and less absolute than that of murder. One could say that with murder, "he knew exactly what he was doing", and with manslaughter, "maybe he didn't know exactly, but had a pretty good idea." These legal distinctions, as you can see, can have a huge impact on the sentence imposed upon the Defendant. Further, a Defendant might not realize how serious some of his or her actions relating to another's crime can be in a legal sense. What is clear: The services of a criminal defense attorney are crucial in order to protect your rights if charged with a crime.

February 15, 2011

Refuse a Breathalyzer Test? Know the Law!

If you are driving in New Jersey and a police officer pulls you over on suspicion of DUI/DWI, when asked to do a breathalyzer test, and you refuse, you have just broken a law. By possessing a driver's license, you have given consent to being administered these tests, through a concept known as "implied consent." For the privilege of being legally entitled to drive, you have legally committed to perform that act upon request. As such, breaking that promise or a refusal to submit to the test is illegal. Even if you are not convicted of DWI from that arrest, you are still guilty of that crime and your license is suspended for up to 10 years (20 years if the arrest occurs in a school zone and it is your third DWI!).

You may be convicted of "refusal" in particular, but until just this past week, such a refusal conviction would constitute a prior DWI conviction if you were subsequently pulled over for another DWI! The difference between a first offense and a second offense in refusals and DWIs is tremendous: 1 year 7 months to 1 year of suspended driving privileges and thousands of dollars.
The first point would be, obviously, don't drink and drive. The second would be to remember that submitting to the test, as you have promised to do by possessing a driver's license, does not necessarily mean you will be convicted of a DWI, but refusing to take the test will get you convicted of that crime, which carries its own fines and penalties.

The third, though probably most important if you dismiss the first, is that you should contact an attorney immediately so that you don't get caught in a web of complicated laws. DWI/DUI and refusal convictions come with fines, community service, jail time, car ignition interlock devices, IDRC (Intoxicated Driver Resource Center) classes, severe inconvenience, and have a way of following you for the rest of your life. Get yourself a skilled, experienced attorney immediately.

Side note #1: People with commercial driver's licenses have an entirely separate set of penalties that affect their license, even if they were stopped or charged while driving their personal car! For example, they lose their commercial drivers license for a minimum of one year.
Side note #2: If you have a DWI conviction, you cannot travel to Canada without permission from the Canadian Embassy! Canada considers a DWI a crime, and they will turn you away at the border without that express permission.