Court holds that juvenile accused of sexual assault cannot be retried in Monmouth County

The Appellate Division held in July that the state could not appeal the dismissal of a Monmouth County juvenile sexual assault case. The state’s appeal was nothing more than an attempt to commence a second prosecution for the same offense, the court concluded, in violation of the Double Jeopardy clauses of the state and federal constitutions. State ex rel. J.T., No. A-0595-12T1 (Jul. 11, 2013).

 

The juvenile defendant was accused of performing acts of fellatio on another minor and was charged with the juvenile equivalents of first-degree aggravated sexual assault and third degree endangering the welfare of a child. The judge ruled, however, that one of the prosecution’s key pieces of evidence—a videotaped interview with an 11 year old child who knew about the incident—was inadmissible because it lacked trustworthiness. Without this evidence, the judge granted a directed verdict in the defense’s favor and dismissed the complaint. The prosecution appealed.

 

Double jeopardy prevents defendants from being retried for the same offense after being acquitted, but the prosecution argued that double jeopardy didn’t apply in this case because the dismissal was based on what should have been a pre-trial evidentiary ruling. The Appellate Division did not agree. As the court explained, the evidentiary ruling was decided during the trial and after jeopardy had attached. The trial judge, moreover, had indicated to the attorneys when the trial commenced that the evidentiary ruling would be made during the trial, not as a pre-trial procedure. The prosecution did not object to this framework, and having failed to do so then, it could not later attempt to fix its mistake by claiming that double jeopardy didn’t apply. For these reasons, the court rejected the prosecution’s appeal and affirmed the dismissal in favor of the juvenile defendant.

 

For more information about sexual assault charges in Monmouth County, call the Law Offices of Palumbo & Renaud at 908-337-0753 or visit the law firm website at www.palumbo-renaud.com.

Essex County court finds no Sixth Amendment right to self-representation in commitment proceedings under the Sexually Violent Predator Act

The Superior Court of New Jersey, Essex County, ruled in June that there is no constitutional right to self-representation in commitment hearings held pursuant to the Sexually Violent Predator Act (SVPA). The case, In re Civil Commitment of D.Y.., involved a 52 year old man who was committed as a sexually violent predator after serving time for first degree aggravated sexual assault.

 

The SVPA provides for the involuntary commitment of any person “who has been convicted… of a sexually violent offense… and suffers from a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes the person likely to engage in acts of sexual violence if not confined to a secure facility for control, care and treatment.” Involuntary commitment requires the state to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the individual poses a threat to the health and safety of others. In this case, the trial court ruled that the prosecution met this standard based on the defendant’s long history of repeated pedophiliac sexual assaults and expert testimony establishing that he was sexually attracted to young males and had anti-social personality disorder. The defendant’s high risk of reoffending was also indicated by his longstanding resistance to treatment and his denial of sexual deviation.

 

At the defendant’s commitment hearing, his lawyer informed the court that he wished to represent himself. The trial court denied this request, however, because of a provision in the statute requiring defendants to be represented by legal counsel. The defendant argued on appeal that this violated his Sixth Amendment right to self-representation, but the Superior Court disagreed. As the court explained, the right to self-representation applies only to criminal prosecutions and does not extend to civil actions such as commitment proceedings brought under the SVPA.

 

Even though defendants have the right to represent themselves in criminal proceedings for sex crimes and other offenses, having an attorney is invaluable and can mean the difference between conviction and acquittal. If you’ve been charged with a sexual offense in New Jersey and need a defense attorney to represent you, contact the law firm of Palumbo & Renaud to arrange a free and confidential consultation.

 

Monmouth County man denied new trial in statutory rape case

The New Jersey Appellate Division ruled in August that a Monmouth County man who was convicted of third degree endangering the welfare of a child was not entitled to a new trial. Although the defendant argued that several comments made by the prosecutor and witnesses were prejudicial and denied him a fair trial, the court held that the trial judge alleviated any prejudice by giving appropriate instructions to the jury to disregard the statements.

 

The defendant in this case was accused of having consensual sex with a 15 year old girl, and while he lost his bid for a new trial on the charges of third degree child endangerment, he was found not guilty the charges of second degree sexual assault. Third degree endangering the welfare of a child, which carries a penalty of 3 to 5 years in prison, applies broadly to instances where a person engages in sexual activities with a child under the age of 16. Second degree sexual assault, a more serious charge usually applied to instances of non-consensual sexual penetration, is punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison.

 

If you’ve been accused of a sex crime in New Jersey, contact a lawyer immediately to discuss your case and the chances for having your charges reduced or dismissed. A skilled criminal defense lawyer will help you understand the complexities of the trial process and fight for your right to a fair trial throughout the ordeal.

If you have any questions call me at 908-272-9700 or email anplaw@yahoo.com

Sexual Assault Charges in Middletown, Monmouth County

An Ex-Dean of a Middletown Highschool was charged with Sexual Assault in Monmouth County after Having Relations with a Former Student.

New Jersey news reports the former dean of students at Middletown’s Mater Dei Prep, who was also an English teacher and boys’ soccer coach there, is accused of sexually assaulting a then-16-year-old female student in Monmouth County.  The teacher, 28, who is an alum of the same school was arrested Tuesday and faces charges of second-degree sexual assault and fourth-degree criminal sexual contact.  The student allegedly assaulted has since graduated and is now 18-years old.  The accused is being held in jail without the option to post 10 percent of a $125,000 bail.

Criminal Sexual Contact is a distinguishable offense in New Jersey sex crimes law.  Under N.J.C.A. 2C:14-3, an actor is guilty of criminal sexual contact if he commits an act of sexual contact with the victim and an additional circumstance proscribed by law exists.  In this case, the secondary circumstance is that “the victim is at least 16 but less than 18-years-old and the actor had supervisory or disciplinary power of any nature or in any capacity over the victim.  Because of the teacher/student relationship, the accused is considered to have a supervisory power over the victim.  As such, if the allegations are true, the teacher was properly charged under the law.

If convicted, the teacher faces severe criminal penalties.  Because of the second degree sexual assault charge, he could receive up to twenty years in prison if the criminal sexual contact charge is run concurrently at sentencing.  As such, it would greatly benefit an individual accused of these types of crimes to seek out a skilled criminal defense attorney.

Call 908-337-7353 for a free consultation today.

 

A Millstone Man was Charged in a Child Prostitution Scheme after Monmouth County Police Discovered he had Engaged in Relations with a Minor

Anthony N. Palumbo – New Jersey Sex Crime Defense Attorney

A Millstone man was arrested by Monmouth County investigators after allegedly taking part in child prostitution.  The man faces charges of second-degree sexual assault and third-degree endangering the welfare of a minor in connection with having sex with the 15-year-old boy.  The man was accused of having sex with the boy at his Millstone residence.  He was arrested at his home by State Police, and released after posting $250,000 full bail.

Because of the age of the victim, the accused in this case faces significant criminal penalties.  If convicted, the defendant would likely be forced to register under Megan’s Law as a child sex offender.  In New Jersey, Megan’s law sex offender registry requires convicted sex offenders to provide information to local police about what they look like, where they live, type of car they drive and their past crimes so the police can be aware of their presence.  Police then distribute this information based on the prescribed offender level of the registrant to appropriate community officials.  The higher the level of offender (one through three with three being the highest tier), the more notice will be provided to the community including local school officials and potentially neighbors within a two block radius.  Importantly, this information must be distributed by police according to certain procedures so as not to violate the registrant’s rights to privacy.

Once on Megan’s law, it is possible to be designated a reduced tier over time through status conferences with county prosecutors.  Good behavior over a prolonged period of time as well as compliance with counseling and other programs often help offenders in reducing their Megan’s Law tier designations.  After a prolonged period of time, it is even possible to be removed from Megan’s Law completely.

I, Anthony N. Palumbo, a New Jersey Criminal Sexual Contact Lawyer, understand the workings of the law and can properly defend accused persons in sexual assault offenses as well as those who have been convicted of solicitation of a prostitute.  Visit my website, www.palumbo-renaud.com, for more information.