Friday, September 30, 2016

Supreme Court Kicks Out State's Drug Expert in Intent to Distribute Cases

State v. Cain, New Jersey Supreme Court (March, 2016)

New Jersey Supreme Court breaks new ground and essentially overrules State v. Odom, which was a virtual killer for criminal defendants going to trial for intent to distribute CDS case.

Under State v. Odom, prosecutor’s used so-called law enforcement experts to give opinions before the jury that the method of packaging, purity and quantity, among other things, of the CDS found, was consistent with possession with intent to distribute, and not for personal use.

Finally, our Supreme Court has ruled that such statements by prosecution witnesses encourages upon the ultimate issue of the guilt of the defendant, is highly prejudicial and no longer permissible.  New Jersey now follows similar rulings in Florida, Connecticut and New York.

The Cain case originated out of Bergen County, in which a Hackensack Police Detective testified as that the Marijuana recovered at the defendant’s residence was with the intent to distribute.

The Court also frowned on the prosecutor’s repeated reference to the fact that the CDS drugs were seized after a judicial search warrant on the defendant’s residence. Although the court did not issue its reversal of the defendant’s conviction on that basis because it reversed on the expert opinion.

If you are charged with a drug offense your choice of a criminal defense attorney is very important, and experience in handling these types of cases is very important. 

Before you hire a criminaldefense attorney you must investigate his or her experience in handling the complex drug case.  It could mean the difference of going to jail or your freedom.

AttorneyVincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq., has been practicing criminal law, and his a criminal trial attorney with 26-years of experience in trying criminal cases throughout New Jersey Superior Court and Federal District Court of New Jersey.

(908) 354-7006
Bergen County Criminal Defense Attorney

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Choosing the Right Attorney to Handle Your Motor

Like anything else choosing the right attorney to handle your motor vehicle summons might make all the difference in the world.  Choosing an attorney with many years of experience might make the difference between a fantastic disposition of the motor vehicle charges as opposed to an adequate result.

Like all areas of the law the handling of motor vehicle summons in municipal court takes a level of experience and skill which is acquired over many years of practice. 
Attorney Sanzone has handled thousands of motor vehicle cases in his 26-years of practice and has achieved many very favorable dispositions.

Just last week for example Attorney Sanzone achieved the complete dismissal of a CDS in a motor vehicle charge and possession of CDS in municipal court, (Somerset County) after filing a motion to suppress evidence.  On the same day, in Hudson County, in other case municipal court achieved a complete dismissal of the charge of leaving the scene of the accident in which property damage was allegedly made.

In this time of attorney direct mailings it is important the client research carefully the attorney’s track record and years of experience before retaining an attorney to handle your motor vehicle case.  Like all decisions, choosing the attorney who has the lowest price might not be the smartest decision. 
Today, yes, even motor vehicle convictions can have adverse consequences on obtaining a good paying job, not to mention the collateral consequences of having a bad driving record. 

A criminal defense attorney in New Jersey who handles motor vehicle case in all cities and towns in New Jersey, including Bayonne, Jersey City, Kearny, and all other cities in Hudson County.

Elizabeth New Jersey Office, (908) 354-7006
Bayonne, New Jersey Office, (201) 240-5716



Friday, April 15, 2016

The Cunard of the Resisting Arrest Charge

This blog is being presented as a public service and for informational purposes by the Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.  Telephone Number (908) 354-7006

In 26-years of practicing criminal defense in the State of New Jersey it continually shocks me as to how many fabricated resisting arrest charges are filed on suspects who have not resisted arrest.  These false charges by police officers seem to be a routine standard charge that is filed against all suspects that the cop does not seem to like.  In addition, this charge will always be falsely lodged after the cop uses excessive forces, or beats up the suspect during the arrest.  This is done to justify the beating of the innocent suspect, and as false justification for the beating.  The Elizabeth, New Jersey Police Department, among others, are notorious for such charges, especially when the cop is looking for some downtime-vacation by saying he hurt is back to take off a couple of weeks in the summer.
It is often difficult to defend against such false charges because it is the word of the defendant against the word of the police officers, and most judges and juries, have no idea that some law enforcement people engage in such abhorrent tactics.  Sometimes the only way to defend such charges is to hope that somehow the incident was recorded.  Even with a video which clearly shows that the defendant was not resisting most judges will not dismiss the case but leave it to the jury to decide. That is why cities such as Newark, Elizabeth, Paterson, Jersey City, Orange, East Orange, Plainfield, refuse to install MVR video cameras in their patrol vehicles.

As written in a previous blog many cops knowing that they are being video recorded by an MVR tape, (motor vehicle recorded video) will continually yell out “stop resisting” to the defendant, even though he is not resisting, just so the cop creates a false record (show for later use) that the cop is trying to stop the defendant from resisting.

However, a recently decided unpublished opinion decided on April 13, 2016, State v. Pavan Patel, give some hope to defendants charged with this offense.  In this case the defendant was charged with resisting arrest after the defendant was unjustly assaulted by security guards at an Atlantic City casino.  The officer seeing the assault took the side of the security guard and started wrestling with the defendant attempting to put him under arrest. However, in this case the defendant was never told that he was under arrest.  Even though the municipal court and law division found the defendant guilty, the appellate division reversed in a good well written decision. 
In this case there was no question that the arrest was unlawful, however, even an unlawful arrest can result in a conviction for resisting arrest, if the suspect gives resistance to being handcuffed.  State v. Branch, 301 N.J. Super, 307, 321 (App. Div. 1997) However, it must be noted that the defendant might be justified in resisting arrest, and defend himself, if the police are using excessive force.  State v. Mulvihill, 57 N.J. 151, 156-57 (1970).

However, if the arrest is unlawful, as was in the Patel case, if the officer does not announce the intention to arrest, than the conviction cannot stand.  State v. Kane, 303 N.J. Super. 167, 182 (App. Div. 1997).  The defense to resisting arrest is not an affirmative defense but an ordinary defense as stated by the decision in Patel.  Accordingly, the State, not the defense, has the burden of disproving the defense. N.J.S.A. 2C:1-13(b); State v. Moultrie, 357 N.J. Super. 547, 555-56 (App. Div. 2003)
The appellate division reversed the conviction by holding that mere actions of the police officer that he was engaged in an attempted arrest was insufficient and therefore the conviction could not stand.

Law office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.
277 North Broad Street, Elizabeth (Union County) N.J. 07207 (908) 354-7006,



Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Witness Tampering Trap

N.J.S.A. 2C:28-5, Witness tempering states in subsection (a) Tampering. A person commits an offense if, believing that an official proceeding or investigation is pending or about to be instituted or has been instituted, he knowingly engages in conduct which a reasonable person would believe would cause a witness or informant to: (1) Testify or inform falsely; (2) Withhold any testimony, information, document or thing; (3) Elude legal process summing him to testify or supply evidence; (4) Absent himself from any proceeding or investigation to which he has been legally summoned; or (5) Otherwise obstruct, delay, prevent or impede an official proceeding or investigation.  Depending on the factors, a violation is a crime of the first degree (if the tampering involves a crime in which an 85% sentence could be imposed, a crime of the second degree if violence was used, otherwise it is a crime of the third degree.
As one can see from reading this statute the language of the law is extremely broad, vague, and subjective.  Does this law deter a defendant, his attorney, or his investigator from seeking out witnesses to prove his innocence?  Such a law would seem to have a chilling effect on the search for truth by the accused, fearing that any contact by the defense with any alleged victim/witness or witness could be construed to amount to a violation of the statute.
Could such activity be considered by law enforcement, if they wanted to be unfair and aggressive charge a defendant with witness tempering for actions which are in fact legal and do not amount to witness tampering? 
In fact, in one particular case in which Attorney Sanzone handled in Ocean County, the Ocean County Prosecutor did such a thing.  In this case the defendant was charged with burglary.  A witness at the scene (an employee of the suspect/defendant) told the police at the scene that his employer (suspect/defendant) did not enter the house.  Not satisfied with the witnesses’ response, and animosity toward the suspect, the Toms River police on the scene told the witnesses that if he did not give an official sworn statement that the suspect/defendant entered the house that the witness would be arrested as an accomplice.  Afraid the witness went to police headquarters and gave a sworn statement saying that his employer entered the house.  A few days later, the witness having remorse that he allowed the police to intimate him in lying for the police, wrote a certified letter to the police chief stating that he wanted to retract his statement, was intimated at the scene and wanted to give a truthful statement that in fact his employer did not enter the house.  A week later not having heard a response the witness sent another letter.  A week later the two detectives from the Toms River Police Department appeared at his home around 11:30 P.M. without notice.  Angry, the two detectives again threatened the witness telling him to if he did not stick to his original story that the witness would be arrested for filing a false police report.  If that was not enough the police told the witness to say that his employer/defendant told him to write the retraction letter, and if the witness did not he would be arrested.  Unfortunately, for the two detectives, the witness had audio recorded the detectives suborning perjury, committing official misconduct, and engaging themselves in witnesses tampering.  The defendant a few days later sent a copy of the audio tape to the Toms River Police Department and Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.
Amazingly, even though the Ocean County Prosecutor had possession of the audio tape in which the detectives committed witness tampering, they nonetheless indicted the employer/defendant for witness tampering.  Four years later, and two days before jury selections, the Ocean County Prosecutor dismissed the witness tampering charge.  The defendant went on trial in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Ocean County for second degree burglary represented by Attorney SanzoneJury acquitted defendant of all charges.
Yes this is a true story and court records are public and well documented.  This unfortunately is what can happen with the witness tampering law.  Sadly, the two Toms River Police Department detectives were never prosecuted by the Ocean County Prosecutor, admonished, or disciplined by Toms River Police Department for their gross violation of law and official misconduct.  Beware. 
Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq.
277 North Broad Street
P.O. Box 261
Elizabeth, N.J. 07207
(908) 354-7006


Friday, March 25, 2016

Trial Court Allowing State’s Expert To

State v. Yasin Simms, decided March 15, 2016 by New Jersey Supreme Court.

In this case the prosecutor presented the testimony of Detective Lockett of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office as an expert “in the field of narcotics use and distribution as well as the accompanying aspects of narcotics distribution.”

At trial the prosecutor posed a lengthy hypothetical question to the detective which included the assumed fact that Detective Ruzzo actually observed defendant hand a buyer ten packets of heroin for cash. That assumed fact, however, was not based on Ruzzo’s testimony, because the detective observed only an unidentified object in defendant’s hands.

The expert also testified that the co-defendant conspired with defendant to distribute drugs, which was another way of saying that defendant conspired with the co-defendant. Defendant did not object to the hypothetical question or to the response, and he did not present any witnesses.

The jury convicted defendant of possession of heroin, possession of heroin with the intent to distribute, however, the New Jersey Court reversed holding that well established case law holds that ultimate questions of guilt or innocence is for the jury to decide and not the state’s so-called expert.  Furthermore, it was impermissible for the so-called expert to testify to facts, i.e., that the detective saw Heroin being transferred since this was not a fact that was even in evidence.
In defending a CDS/narcotics case it is important to know what evidence offered by the prosecutor is objectionable.  An experienced criminal defense attorney would have known that this type of testimony is inadmissible.

If you are charged with a narcotics, CDS or other drug related offense you must consult an experienced criminal defense attorney.  Attorney Sanzone has been practicing criminal law and defending against narcotics offenses for 26-years.

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr.        
277 North Broad Street, (Union County) Elizabeth, N.J




Monday, February 15, 2016

What Happens If I am Arrested by the Feds: Federal Agents Must Take Arrestee/Suspect before Magistrate Judge within Six-Hours.

It is well settled that and common knowledge that anyone arrested has the legal right not to speak to anyone, until he or she consults with a criminal defense attorney.  Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1964)

What is not well known, however, is that the federal authorities must promptly bring the arrested person before a magistrate or district court judge within six-hours of the arrest.

Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section 3501(c), a person arrested by federal authorities must be brought before a judicial officer   within six-hours (with some flexibility for distance, transportation and availability of Judge) of the arrest.

In the Supreme Court case, Corley v. United States, 556 U.S. 303 (2009) our Supreme Court held that a 29-hour delay was unacceptable and that the confession made during that period was inadmissible. In McNabb v. United States, 318 U.S. 332 (1943); Mallory v. United States 354 U.S. 449 (1957), it was established that a confession which violates the prompt presentment requirement of F.R.C.P. 5(a) generally renders said confession inadmissible, even if the confession was made voluntarily.

If you have been arrested or charged with a federal crime you should immediately consult and retain an experienced federal district court criminal attorney to protect your rights.

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq. (Elizabeth, N.J.)
Telephone: (908) 354-7006; Cell Phone (201) 240-5716


Friday, January 29, 2016

New Jersey’s New Expungement Law Change

On April 19, 2016, the law in New Jersey will radically change its expungement law allowing most non-violent felonies to be expunged after waiting five-years after released from incarceration or completion of probation.  However, the public interest standard still applies, and this is still at the discretion of the judge.
Without a public interest need the petitioner will still have to wait 10-years, after his or her release from jail or completion of probation which ever comes last.
Disorderly person’s offenses (or municipal court cases) the waiting period has been reduced from 5-years to 3-years.  Also, the new law allows certain people to expunge their successful completion of the drug court program, and the underlying conviction which facilitated their participation in the program.

Lastly, the new law allows judges to immediate expunged and seal all records regarding cases in which the defendant was a victim of identity theft.  This would also apply to the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) which must seal and expunge all division of motor vehicle records in which the motorist received the charge because his or her I.D. was stolen or forged.  In addition, the prosecutor can petition the court with the request of his or her criminal defense attorney, to rule that the defendant or motorist, was in fact, “factually innocent.”

It is important to note that there is no waiting period for the sealing of these records.  It is important to note that the expungement process can be complicated, and you are urged to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney.  Attorney Sanzone has 25-years of experience as a New Jersey criminal defense attorney.

Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq.
P.O. Box 261, 277 North Broad Street
Elizabeth, N.J. 07207]
Tel: (908) 354-7006

Dated: January 29, 2016