Appellate court reverses convictions for accused Middlesex County serial rapist based on inappropriate trial procedures

Based on number of errors made by the trial court, the New Jersey Appellate Division recently reversed convictions for a burglary and three separate rape and sexual assault incidents that occurred in Middlesex County. As a result, the defendant’s 80 year sentence for these crimes was dismissed and the charges were remanded for new trials.

The first error involved the trial court’s decision to include the burglary and two of the rape incidents in the same trial. As the appellate court explained, for the charges to be tried together, they had to either share signature characteristics or arise from the same criminal event. The trial court grouped the charges together because the defendant used a knife and a condom during each of the rapes and was carrying both a knife and a condom when he was arrested after the burglary. But the appellate court ruled that the burglary didn’t share a signature characteristic with the rapes because it didn’t involve any sexual assault. Nor could the use of a knife and a condom in both rapes establish a signature characteristic because they weren’t particularly unique criminal circumstances. And because each of the incidents occurred at least several months apart, the court found that they couldn’t be considered part of the same criminal event.

 

The appellate court also found that it was error for the trial court to admit evidence regarding the burglary during the trial on the third rape because the evidence was only indirectly related to the rape and it wasn’t necessary for the prosecution’s case. The only real purpose for using the evidence was to prejudice the defendant, and this wasn’t a sufficient reason.

 

This case is important because it shows how the judicial system protects criminal defendants from evidence admitted solely to paint them in a bad light in front of a jury. Every defendant is entitled to a fair trial, and having an experienced defense attorney is the best way to ensure that trial procedures and the rules of evidence are followed the first time around.

 

If you’ve been accused of a sex crime in Middlesex County or anywhere else in New Jersey, you can contact me, Anthony N. Palumbo New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorney, for a free and confidential consultation by calling me at 1-866-664-8118. I’ve been defending individuals against sex crime charges for almost four decades and I can give you an honest assessment of the penalties you face and the best possible avenues of relief.

 

 

Westfield Sexual Assault and Robbery: The element of force

New Jersey Sex Crimes Defense Attorney – Anthony N. Palumbo

Westfield, a very safe town located in Union County, recently fell victim to its first sexual assault attack of 2010 when two men raped and robbed a Cranford woman in a minivan.  The incident took place early Monday morning when the 20-year-old woman was walking down the street in Westfield.  A man approached her and forced her into a nearby minivan where a second man threatened her with a knife and forced her to take off her clothes.  After allegedly assaulting the victim, they took $450 from her by force. When she escaped, the assailants fled the scene in their vehicle.  The police are currently waiting on sketches of the suspect and hoping that someone may have further information, however the men have not yet been apprehended.

In New Jersey, sexual assault and robbery are two crimes that require the element of force or threat of force.  In the case described above, force was used in both the robbery and the rape because a threat with a knife is considered a threat of force and meets the requisite element under both robbery and sexual assault.  In some situations, sexual assault can be committed without force if certain circumstances are present.  For example, sexual assault can occur without force if it takes place between a young child and an adult, or between a young adult and someone who plays a supervisory role in their life, like a family member or a coach.  In those cases, the element of force or threat of force is not necessary because the circumstances create a situation in which the victim already feels as if she must comply with the sexual requests of the actor.

If you may have committed a crime using force or the threat of force, I can help you better understand the consequences which may arise from your actions.  When you are up against a criminal investigation, a strong criminal defense may be the key to your freedom.  I have been building strong defenses in New Jersey for more than 35 years and I have a strong reputation for success.  If you or someone you love has been accused of a crime, I can speak with you today about the charges you face in a Free Consultation at 1-866-664-8118.  To learn more about crimes in New Jersey, visit my website to learn more about robbery or sexual assaultin New Jersey at www.palumbo-renaud.com.

Proposed Rape Shield Statute Shields Victim’s History in Civil Cases


If passed, a new bill in New Jersey would change the current Rape Shield Law.  A Rape Shield Law is a law that prevents a rape victim’s sexual history from coming into court under certain circumstances.  Under New Jersey’s present Rape Shield Law, the general rule is that a victim’s sexual history with people other than the defendant cannot come into court in criminal cases except in certain circumstances.

 

If the new bill is passed the law will change so that in civil cases, in order to use information about the victim’s sexual history as it relates to someone other than the defendant, the party seeking admittance would need to show good cause and that the evidence is material to proving that the semen or resulting condition of the victim (i.e. pregnancy or disease) was caused by someone other than the defendant.

This bill could make it more difficult for employers who are falsely accused of sexual harassment in the workplace to prove their innocence, and this is why.  Normally in such cases, discovery and evidence is allowed on the fact that the sexual harassment was welcome, that the alleged victim involved herself in sexual activity in the workplace, and evidence concerning her sexual lifestyle.  However, under the new bill, none of this evidence would be admissible unless it was material to proving that the semen or a condition resulting from the sexual activity was from someone other than the defendant.  Therefore, anytime an employer is accused of sexual harassment that does not involve semen in the alleged victim or a resulting condition, evidence of the victim’s prior sexual history will not be allowed in.  Since sexual harassment charges can arise without such condition or semen, it may be much easier to convict an employer in those cases.

For more information on Sexual Assault visit my website Anthony N. Palumbo, New Jersey Sex Crimes Defense attorney at www.palumbo-renaud.com