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Hackensack Criminal Defense Law Blog

Lodi Man Charged With Assault by Auto, DWI Following Accident that Left 2 Injured

carlstadt police department shield.jpgA man from Lodi, New Jersey was recently charged with assault by auto and DWI, among other offenses, after an accident in Carlstadt that left a man and his young son injured.

According to Thomas Nielsen, the chief of the Carlstadt Police Department, 24-year-old Kenneth Haines was driving while intoxicated when he caused an accident with another vehicle on Hoboken Road on Sunday, April 13th. Per reports, Haines was driving a 2012 Nissan Rogue when he crossed a double-yellow line and hit a 2007 Ford Focus, containing a man and his 8-year-old son. Both of the victims sustained injuries during the crash and subsequently received treatment at Hackensack University Hospital.

Law enforcement officials said Haines then left the scene of the accident and drove through a safety checkpoint on Route 17 South, nearly hitting a Carlstadt police officer in the process. He was ultimately taken into custody by officers from the East Rutherford Police Department. Test results showed that Haines registered a blood alcohol content of 0.19% at the time, which is more than double the legal limit.

He was charged with numerous offenses before being released, including: assault by auto, DWI, DWI within 1000 feet of school property, reckless driving, and knowingly leaving the scene of an accident resulting in bodily injury. He is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday, May 1st.

While some of the charges that Haines is now facing are classified as traffic violations, others are considered criminal offenses. In New Jersey, DWI-related offenses and reckless driving are classified as traffic violations. Violations involving DWI within 1000 feet of school property, governed under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(g), are subject to penalties including a driver's license suspension ranging from 1 to 2 years as well as a maximum sentence of 60 days in jail.

On the other hand, Haines is facing criminal charges for assault by auto (N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1) and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in bodily injury (N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1.1). Depending on the degree of the charges for each offense, Haines may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment if he is ultimately convicted.

For more information pertaining to this case, access the following article: Speeding DWI driver flees crash with man, boy, 8, nearly hits officer, Carlstadt police say

Bergen County Officials Arrest Former Hackensack Basketball Player Charged with Kidnapping,Sex Crimes

hackensack kidnapping sexual assault case.jpgDetectives from the Bergen County Prosecutors Office and officers from the Hackensack Police Department recently arrested a man who is now facing charges including kidnapping, sexual assault, and endangering the welfare of a child for alleged crimes against a 14-year-old female victim.

24-year-old Darion Benbow was taken into custody on Friday, April 11th following an investigation by law enforcement officials from Bergen County. Benbow, who is originally from Hackensack, was a former college basketball player for Lafayette University in Pennsylvania.He is now charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and providing alcohol to a minor, according to police records.

Of the crimes for which he is accused, both kidnapping and sexual assault offenses are among the most serious in New Jersey. According to N.J.S.A. 2C:13-1, which pertains to kidnapping offenses, they can be classified as crimes of the first or second degree. Sexual assault, codified under N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2, is also considered a first or second degree crime under New Jersey law.

Depending on the degree of the charges against Benbow, he could be facing a sentence of up to 20 years in New Jersey State Prison if he is found guilty. Both first and second degree crimes entail a presumption of incarceration. However, first degree crimes are punishable by a term of incarceration ranging from 10 to 20 years, while second degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years.

Following his arrest, Benbow was being held at the Bergen County Jail, with his bail set at $400,000. His arraignment is scheduled for Wednesday, April 16th in Bergen County Superior Court.

For more information pertaining to this case, access the following article: Former college ballplayer charged in sex assault, kidnapping in Hackensack

Washington Township Juvenile Murder Case to be Tried in Adult Court

washington twp. juvenile tried as an adult murder case.pngIn a pending murder trial, a Washington Township teenager accused of fatally stabbing his older sister will be tried as an adult in Bergen County Superior Court.

According to Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli, 17-year-old Washington Township resident Travis Gallo is facing charges for homicide and weapons possession offenses for allegedly killing his 20-year-old sister Teia Gallo. The incident occurred at their Pershing Avenue residence on December 26, 2013 after a domestic dispute. Investigators identified a kitchen knife as the murder weapon.

Now that Gallo is to be tried as an adult as opposed to a juvenile, he is facing significantly harsher penalties if ultimately convicted. Under New Jersey law, juvenile and adult cases are subject to very different standards in criminal court. In this case and other cases involving serious charges such as aggravated assault, robbery, carjacking, or kidnapping, the prosecution may choose to recommend that the defendant be tried in adult court. A judge then makes the ultimate determination as to the venue for the trial.

As for Gallo, a conviction for homicide in adult court could mean he is subject to a life-long term of imprisonment. According to N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3, murder offenses are punishable by a term of incarceration ranging from 30 years to life in New Jersey State Prison. Although homicide is classified as a crime of the first degree, it entails more serious penalties than typical first degree offenses. Whereas first degree crimes are generally punishable by a prison sentence between 10 and 20 years, defendants convicted of homicide must serve a minimum of 30 years in prison before becoming eligible for parole.

Clearly, the court's decision in this case spells significant implications for Travis Gallo, as his fate hangs in the balance. He is currently being held at the Bergen County Jail, with his bail set at $2 million.

For more information concerning this case, access the following article: Washington Township family 'disappointed' teen son accused of murdering sister to be tried as adult

Officers Discover Heroin and Save Puppy During Traffic Stop on Bergen County Highway

glen rock police car.pngA recent traffic stop, conducted by officers from the Glen Rock police department, became a much more significant incident when police discovered evidence of drugs in the vehicle and subsequently crossed the highway in order to save the dog that jumped from the car.

According to Glen Rock Police Detective Sergeant Eric Reamy, officers stopped the vehicle on Route 208 at approximately 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 13th for an equipment violation. They found three passengers in the car at the time, as well as a pit bull puppy. Per reports, the officers also noticed drug paraphernalia in plain view, at which time they decided to search the vehicle.

The K9 Unit from the Bergen County Sheriff's Office was then called to the scene to assist in the investigation. According to Sergeant Reamy, law enforcement officials discovered heroin in the vehicle and one of the passengers was carrying heroin on his person. All three of the passengers are facing drug-related charges as a result.

During the search, the young dog that was in the car dangerously fled across the highway. Fortunately, the officers were able to retrieve the puppy and it emerged from the incident unscathed. The passengers in the vehicle, on the other hand, are now facing drug-related charges, which likely include possession of heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Charges involving possession of heroin offenses, codified under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10, are considered crimes of the third degree, which are punishable by a term of incarceration ranging from 3 to 5 years in New Jersey State Prison. Defendants who are ultimately convicted of these offenses may also face a fine of up to $35,000. However, if the defendant does not have a prior criminal record, he or she may be eligible for a diversionary program known as the Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program.

For more information pertaining to this case, access the following article: Glen Rock, Hawthorne police rescue pit bull puppy during Route 208 drug stop

Bergen County Grand Jury Returns Indictment Against Four Defendants, One Blind, after Teaneck Robbery

teaneck robbery blind man.jpgA Bergen County grand jury recently indicted four individuals, including one blind man, in connection with an armed robbery that occurred in Teaneck, New Jersey. The foursome are now facing charges including first-degree robbery, hindering apprehension or prosecution, and multiple weapons offenses.

According to authorities, 25-year-old Michael Harper, 22-year-old Andre Ziemoore, 22-year-old Ayesha Mitchell, and 20-year-old Jamila Eason, have all been charged in connection with an armed robbery that occurred at the intersection of Linden and Elm Avenues on December 17, 2013.

The group allegedly used a Lorcin LT-25 .25-caliber handgun, threatening to shoot the two victims, before stealing their money as well as their cell phones.

Following their arrests, Mitchell remained at the Bergen County Jail with her bail set at $100,000. She was released after posting the amount on February 11th. Eason was also released that day after posting bail in the amount of $75,000. Ziemoore and Harper, on the other hand, are currently being held at the county jail, with their bails set at $175,000 and $150,000, respectively.

On Thursday, April 10th, the grand jury issued the indictment, which includes first-degree robbery charges against all four of the defendants. In addition, Mitchell is facing charges for hindering apprehension or prosecution, while Ziemoore has been charged with a certain persons not to have weapons offense because he was previously convicted of a felony. There are also a number of other second-degree weapons charges included in the indictment.

These four defendants are charged with extremely serious crimes, the most egregious of which is first-degree robbery, which is punishable by a term of incarceration ranging from 10 to 20 years in New Jersey State Prison. In addition, the second degree weapons charges could entail penalties including a prison sentence of 5 to 10 years, according to New Jersey law.

For more information pertaining to this case, access the following article: Blind man, three others charged in Teaneck 'enticement' street robbery

Man Facing Luring, Harrassment Charges, Among Others in Leonia and Palisades Park

leonia and pp luring.jpgAuthorities recently arrested a man wanted on luring charges in connection with two separate incidents that occurred in Leonia. When he approached another woman in Palisades Park, she subsequently led police to the suspect.

According to Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli, police had been searching for the suspect, whom they identified as 65-year-old Englewood resident Jay Dorfman, since the Leonia incidents, which occurred on March 12th and involved two different victims. Until the most recent incident, investigators were working solely with a composite sketch of the man and a description of the SUV in which he was traveling.

Then, Dorfman approached a 29-year-old Asian woman from Palisades Park on Tuesday April 8th, attempting to entice her into his vehicle. The woman, who appears extremely young according to police, documented the car's license plate number as well as its make, model, and color. She then notified police of the incident. After providing a description of the man, police showed her the previous sketch as well as the photo they obtained from Dorfman's driver's license via DMV records, which they obtained with the details of the vehicle that she provided.

With the suspect positively identified, Dorfman was then arrested in a coordinated effort made by officers from Leonia and Palisades Park. He is now facing charges for four counts of luring and four counts of endangering the welfare of a child. In addition, Dorfman has been charged with three counts of harassment and one count of lewdness in connection with alleged events that allegedly occurred in January in Palisades Park.

With the aforementioned charges filed against Dorfman, particularly the luring charges, he could be facing serious consequences if convicted. According to N.J.S.A. 2C:13-6, which governs luring, enticing and solicitation charges in New Jersey, these offenses are classified as crimes of the second degree. A conviction for these types of charges entails a prison sentence ranging from 5 to 10 years, mandatory sex offender registration under Megan's Law, and the potential for community supervision for life.

Dorfman, who is currently being held at the Bergen County Jail with his bail set at $350,000, would be best advised to obtain an experienced criminal defense attorney to serve on his behalf in this case.

For more information regarding this case, access the following article: Woman who helped catch Leonia luring suspect looked 16, source says

Englewood Man Receives 2nd DWI Conviction, Pleads Guilty to Endangering the Welfare of a Child

ignition interlock device.jpgA man from Englewood, New Jersey was recently convicted of his second DWI, in addition to pleading guilty to charges for endangering the welfare of a child, as he was driving with his young son in the car at the time.

34-year-old Carlos Miranda appeared in Bergen County Superior Court on Tuesday, April 8th, at which time he pleaded guilty to the aforementioned, which resulted from an incident that occurred in March of 2013.

According to authorities, Miranda was driving while intoxicated, with his 6-year-old son in the car, and subsequently totaled the vehicle near Greco Elementary School in Englewood. When police arrived on the scene, a test of his blood alcohol content revealed that Miranda's level was nearly double the limit according to New Jersey law.

At the April 8th hearing, Presiding Superior Court Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi allowed Miranda to enter a drug court program in lieu of a prison sentence. He will also be subject to a mandatory ignition interlock device. As such, Miranda's vehicle will not be able to start without him blowing a clean breath test sample into the device for the next three years.

Considering the severity of the charges for endangering the welfare of a child, which is considered a second or third degree crime under N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4, Miranda received a relatively lenient sentence. Miranda was likely facing second-degree charges, as he has a legal responsibility to the child in this case. If he was ultimately convicted of the charges, he would be facing a sentence of 5 to 10 years in New Jersey State Prison.

Overall, Judge DeAvila-Silebi stressed the fact that Miranda will be sentenced to a term of incarceration ranging from 3 to 5 years if he does not successfully complete the drug court program. Further, she added that the length of Miranda's probation, which could be from 1 to 5 years, is also contingent upon his level of success.

For more information pertaining to this case, access the following article: Englewood man admits neglect for DWI crash with son, 6, in car

Woman Facing First-Degree Robbery Charges Receives Plea Offer from Bergen County Prosecutors

garfield drug money robbery plea deal.jpgA woman from Garfield, New Jersey who is facing charges for first-degree armed robbery as well as conspiracy to commit armed robbery, was recently offered a plea agreement from the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office that would subject her to a sentence of 7 years to be served in New Jersey State Prison.

According to Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Nicole Eiszner, 23-year-old Garfield resident Ashley I. Lozano is responsible for orchestrating and participating in the robbery of a friend of hers at a residence in East Rutherford last October. Lozano allegedly committed the robbery with 22-year-old Paterson resident Addis Aka to obtain money for drugs. A third man who officials believe also participated has yet to be identified.

Both Lozano and Aka were previously arrested on heroin-related charges. Lozano was charged with heroin possession and there was an active warrant for her arrest issued by the Newark Police Department. Aka, on the other hand, faced prior charges for heroin distribution as well as weapons offenses.

Each of the two defendants has been charged with first-degree robbery, stemming from the fact that they allegedly threatened the victim with a gun during the crime. Under N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1, which governs robbery offenses, if the actor "is armed with, uses, or threatens the immediate use of a deadly weapon," this is classified as a crime of the first degree. First degree offenses are punishable by a term of imprisonment ranging from 10 to 20 years, according to the New Jersey Criminal Code.

If Lozano ultimately accepts to prosecution's offer in exchange for a guilty plea, she would be required to serve approximately 6 years in prison before becoming eligible for parole, as robbery is one of the crimes enumerated under the No Early Release Act (NERA). With this in mind, the prosecution's offer of 7 years is a reasonably reduced sentence and would allow Lozano to avoid taking her case to trial and risking a conviction.

On Monday, April 7th, Lozano entered a plea of "not guilty" in Bergen County Superior Court. She will need to coordinate with her defense attorney in order to determine whether or not she will proceed to trial or accept the plea agreement in exchange for a reduced sentence. She is currently being held at the Bergen County Jail, with her bail set at $20,000, pending her next court appearance, which is scheduled for May 15th.

For more information pertaining to this case, access the following article: Garfield woman offered deal in East Rutherford drug money robbery

Bergen County Domestic Violence Case Involving Repeat Offender with Lengthy Criminal Past

handcuffs.jpgA man from Englewood, New Jersey with an extensive criminal record is currently facing charges for domestic violence in connection with the alleged assault of his girlfriend, whom he has faced charges for assaulting in the past.

According to Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Vered Adoni, 37-year-old Englewood resident Derrick Smalls is accused of assaulting his girlfriend while at her apartment and violating a restraining order by making contact with her. The victim sustained head injuries that required stitches and staples in order to repair, authorities say.

Per police documents, Smalls has a lengthy criminal history, which includes charges for assault, eluding a police officer, obstructing the administration of the law, drug-related offenses, theft, and forgery. His criminal record begins almost 20 years ago, listing over 20 crimes in its entirety.

Smalls was initially charged with a domestic violence offense committed against the same victim, at which time he pleaded guilty to a disorderly persons offense per a plea agreement from the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office. Approximately 6 months after the incident, while on parole, he was charged for assaulting her again.

Domestic violence cases can be rather complex, as there are instances in which criminal complaints are filed, those in which complaints are not filed, and there is the potential for cross-complaints involving both parties. Authorities can file criminal complaints against one or both of the individuals involved in a domestic violence incident and these charges can include simple assault, aggravated assault, stalking, or harassment. It is important to note that criminal charges are addressed in an entirely separate proceeding from the issuance of a restraining order.

However, criminal charges can be brought against a defendant for violating a restraining order. N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9 governs these types of offenses, which can be classified as fourth degree crimes or disorderly persons offenses, depending on the circumstances of the specific case. Fourth degree charges are generally filed if the violation of the restraining order constitutes an offense such as assault, harassment, terroristic threats, or stalking.

Bergen County Superior Court Judge Edward A. Jerejian, the presiding judge in Smalls' case, is expected to schedule the trial to begin in May. The latest charges that Smalls is facing could subject him to a prison sentence of 13 years if he is ultimately convicted, according to prosecutors.

For more information pertaining to this case, access the following article: Englewood ex-con with long rap sheet facing trial in girlfriend beating

Bergen County Prosecutors Charge 6 with Theft by Deception Conspiracy

palisades park theft by deception case.pngThe Bergen County Prosecutor's Office recently announced the arrests of four individuals who are now facing charges for theft by deception. Authorities have also issued warrants for the arrests of two additional suspects in this case.

According to Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli, 55-year-old Ki Sung Chung, 53-year-old Soon Hwa Park-Bergman, 56-year-old Hyang Son Yi, and 51-year-old Ki Jung Yun, are each facing theft by deception charges in connection with a real estate investment firm through which they allegedly stole $560,000 from clients.

Norwood residents Chung and Park-Bergman, who are the married co-owners of Newstar Realty & Investment located in Palisades Park, New Jersey, are accused of working with fellow married couple Son Yi and Jung Yun to defraud the firm's clients out of a total of approximately $560,000 between 2008 and 2009. All four have been indicted as a result.

In addition, 73-year-old Dennis Oak and his wife, 63-year-old Beverly Oak, of Palisades Park, are wanted on theft by deception charges for allegedly participating in the aforementioned crimes. However, they have not yet been taken into custody.

If the aforementioned defendants are ultimately convicted of these charges, they could be sentenced to serve significant prison terms. Under N.J.S.A. 2C:20-4, which governs theft by deception charges in New Jersey, offenses involving the acquisition of $75,000 or more are classified as crimes of the second degree, which are punishable by a term of incarceration ranging from 5 to 10 years in New Jersey State Prison.

It remains to be seen whether or not any of the defendants will receive and subsequently accept plea offers from Bergen County prosecutors in exchange for their testimony against the others charged in this case.

For more information pertaining to this case, access the following article: Six charged in $560,000 real estate scam run from Palisades Park, prosecutor says

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