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Attorney General’s Directive Alters NJ Gun Charge Sentencing Protocol

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Gun And ConstitutionNew Jersey Attorney General John J. Hoffman recently issued a directive clarifying State law with regard to weapons charges issued against gun owners who obtain permits from other states.

New Jersey continues to be enthralled in a debate involving the acknowledgement of out-of-state gun permits, as individuals traveling in this state with firearms legally-obtained in other states can currently be subject to criminal charges. In addition, since these offenses are governed under New Jersey’s Graves Act, these charges undoubtedly result in a prison sentence for those convicted.

Cases of this kind are common in New Jersey and often result in severe consequences for unsuspecting visitors. However, the Attorney General’s statement will significantly impact current State protocol in prosecuting these individuals, with the potential to alleviate the previously dire consequences.

The directive comes on the heels of a case involving a mother from Pennsylvania who was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon for a gun that she legally owned in her home state. Philadelphia resident Shaneen Allen’s case garnered public scrutiny after she was charged in Atlantic County for a gun that she legally owned in Pennsylvania. With no prior criminal record, this mother would have been subject to a mandatory-minimum term of incarceration ranging from 3 to 5 years in New Jersey State Prison if she was found guilty.

Following the Attorney General’s announcement, Allen was accepted into the Pre-Trial Intervention Program, a diversionary program available to eligible defendants tried in superior courts throughout the state. Pre-Trial Intervention, often called “PTI,” is essentially a probationary period during which the defendant must comply with the conditions of the program and avoid any further criminal charges. Upon successful completion of PTI, the underlying charges are dismissed.

PTI was previously restricted to those charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, as these offenses are among those subject to the stringent sentencing guidelines of the Graves Act. However, the recent announcement grants consideration for PTI to defendants who meet specific criteria and will potentially alter the fates of many individuals charged in similar cases throughout New Jersey.

According to the Attorney General, prosecutors will be now be expected to give PTI enrollment consideration under the following circumstances: the defendant is an out-of-state resident, has no previous criminal record, lawfully owns the gun in another state, notifies law enforcement of their possession of the firearm, has no knowledge of New Jersey’s limitations regarding guns, and otherwise believes that he or she is in compliance with the law.

In his statement, Attorney General Hoffman explained:

“While ignorance of the law is not a defense, prosecutors certainly may consider whether a defendant made an honest mistake in determining the level of defendant’s culpability for purposes of sentencing. In the absence of case-specific aggravating circumstances, these defendants should not be sentenced to incarceration.”

Paul Loriquet, a spokesman for the Attorney General, discussed the implications of the aforementioned directive, stating that it will lead to the reconsideration of between 50 and 100 similar cases statewide. Further, this new interpretation of the law will serve to transform the prosecution of countless New Jersey gun cases in the future.

Additional information pertaining to this matter is available through the following link: How Philadelphia woman’s N.J. gun case could affect up to 100 similar cases

Paterson Man Arrested in Connection with Wyckoff Armed Robberies

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knife-attackWyckoff police officers charged Steven Cardona, 22, with first-degree armed robbery, second-degree possession of a weapon, and fourth-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, saying that Mr. Cardona was connected to an armed robbery in the township.

The charges allege that Mr. Cardona met with two Wyckoff teenagers in a shopping center parking lot in order to purchase a pair of Nike Air Jordan sneakers worth several hundred dollars. Rather than a purchase, however, it is alleged that Mr. Cardona stole the sneakers from the teens at knifepoint. Police have said that Mr. Cardona has been connected to the robbery by “computer forensics” and that he is a suspect in several other robberies of the same type in other jurisdictions.

Wyckoff Municipal Court Judge Russel Teschon set Cardona’s bail at $100,000, though he is already being held on other charges in the Passaic County Jail.

If convicted of armed robbery, Cardona could face serious penalties including 10-20 years in state prison, up to $200,000 in fines, and a mandatory period of parole ineligibility of 85% of his period of incarceration. On the weapons charges, Cardona could face an additional 5-10 years of incarceration and $150,000 in fines if convicted.

Robbery and weapons possession are very serious criminal charges, with equally serious consequences if convicted. If you or a someone you know has been charged with these or other criminal offenses in New Jersey, don’t delay in hiring legal representation to protect your rights and preserve your freedom.

For additional information, see the following article: http://www.northjersey.com/news/wyckoff-police-arrest-man-suspected-in-several-knifepoint-robberies-1.1092375

Mahwah Resident Charged in Collision With Bicyclist

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Mahwah bike accidentThomas Rinaldi, 64, was driving his pickup truck on September 9 when he allegedly made a sharp turn across oncoming traffic and caused a Suffern man to fall off his bicycle and strike his head. The collision occurred at approximately 4:37 p.m. at the intersection of Ramapo Valley Road and North Railroad Avenue in Mahwah. The 62-year-old victim was transported to St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson where he was listed in critical condition.

After conducting field sobriety tests on the driver, police placed Mr. Rinaldi under arrest for driving while intoxicated and assault by automobile. Additionally, police obtained a blood sample from Mr. Rinaldi in order to run a toxicology report. Mr. Rinaldi was released on $25,000 bail with a 10% option.

If convicted of DWI, Mr. Rinaldi could face penalties such as a loss of driving privileges from 3 months to 10 years, depending on whether he has any prior convictions for DWI. Additionally, the Court can impose fines and mandatory surcharges totaling more than $1,300 as well as a possible term of up to 180 days in the Bergen County Jail. Finally, a conviction may subject Mr. Rinaldi to the required installation of an ignition interlock in his vehicle upon reinstatement of his license for a period of up to 3 years.

If the alleged offense occurred within 1,000 feet of a school zone, penalties are much more harsh, including fines of up to $2,000, a period of incarceration of up to 180 days in the Bergen County Jail, a suspension of driving privileges of up to 20 years, and a mandatory ignition interlock.

Assault by auto is a third-degree crime, carrying possible penalties of up 3-5 years in New Jersey State Prison and fines of up to $15,000. If the alleged crime took place within 1,000 feet of a school, it becomes a second-degree crime, punishable by 5-10 years in New Jersey State Prison and up to $150,000 in fines.

If you or anyone you know has been charged with these or similar offenses, the consequences can be serious, resulting in substantial prison terms and financial penalties. Don’t delay in hiring legal representation to protect your freedom and your rights.

For additional information, see the following article:Mahwah man arrested after truck hits bicyclist

Former Fox 5 Reporter Charles Leaf to Remain in Prison Pending Appeal

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LeafFollowing his sentencing on June 27 to a term of 26 years in state prison, former Fox 5 news reporter Charles Leaf asked the Superior Court to allow him to be released on bail pending the outcome of his appeal. His attorney argued that the judge should grant bail because Mr. Leaf’s appeal is based on a multitude of alleged problems with the trial and jury verdict. “This was not a simple case…it was as complicated as can be,” his defense attorney said.

Issues such as a 21-minute gap in the video of a forensic interview with the victim, evidentiary issues relating to the seizure of Leaf’s computer, and the exclusion of records relating to the victim’s counseling sessions add to the complexity of the case and Mr. Leaf’s appeal. Further, the victim herself testified that Leaf never molested her and that the allegations she made two years prior were fed to her by her nanny. Finally, Leaf’s father-in-law flew from Poland to testify that he was actually the person who downloaded the images of child pornography found on Leaf’s computer. Those issues, along with Mr. Leaf’s continued assertion of innocence, have his defense attorney arguing that prison is not necessary at this point.

Mr. Leaf was convicted of all charges by a jury on February 20 after a month-long trial and little more than 5 hours of deliberations. Those charges include: aggravated sexual assault; sexual assault; endangering the welfare of a child; possession of child pornography; and hindering prosecution. Of his 26-year sentence, 20 years must be served before he will become eligible for parole. When he is paroled, Mr. Leaf will be required to register as a sex offender under New Jersey’s Megan’s Law. Depending on the level of his reporting requirements, Mr. Leaf will be required to register with the local police, may be required to notify local neighborhood groups and schools, and may be included on the State’s internet registry of sex offenders. At his tier classification hearing, Mr. Leaf may challenge what level of reporting will be required of him.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Superior Court Judge James J. Guida said he doesn’t believe Leaf is a threat to jump bail, but that is not enough to release Leaf while he appeals his conviction. Agreeing with the prosecutor’s assertion that bail pending appeal is not a right, but an exception, Judge Guida remanded Leaf to the Southwoods State Prison to await the outcome of his appeal.

If you or anyone you know has been charged with similar offenses, the consequences can be serious, resulting in long prison terms and other penalties. Legal representation is vital to protect your freedom and rights, so don’t delay in hiring someone to stand up for your interests.

For additional information, see the following articles: Legal issues don’t entitle former Fox 5 reporter Leaf to bail in appeal of child-sex conviction, judge says;   Charles Leaf blames state child welfare workers, sentenced to 26 years for sex assault on girl, 4

Hackensack Man Charged with Exhibiting False Documents

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BCSO_3A 49-year-old Hackensack man was recently arrested by officers from the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department after he allegedly attempted to use a fake driver’s license to obtain a new one from the Lodi Motor Vehicle Commission.

Victor Olivo Alvarez-Sanchez was arrested on September 10th, at which time he was charged with possessing and exhibiting a fictitious driver’s license. Alvarez-Sanchez is currently being held on $7,500 bail in the Bergen County Jail and could be facing significant time in New Jersey State Prison if convicted.

According to N.J.S.A. 2C:21-2.1, “a person who knowingly exhibits, displays or utters a document or other writing which falsely purports to be a driver’s license, birth certificate or other document issued by a governmental agency and which could be used as a means of verifying a person’s identity or age or any other personal identifying information is guilty of a crime of the third degree.” These crimes are punishable by a term of incarceration ranging from 3 to 5 years in New Jersey State Prison, in addition to a fine of up to $15,000.

The defendant could also be charged with possession of a fictitious license, which is a fourth degree crime. Although fourth degree charges are considered less serious than third degree charges, they are still indictable felonies in New Jersey and can entail a prison sentence of up to 18 months.

It is also important to note that a person convicted of either of the above offenses is subject to a driver’s license suspension for a period of between 6 months and 2 years, which commences on the day the sentence is imposed. In addition, Falsifying Government Documents is considered a crime of moral turpitude and therefore, may have implications related to immigration status.

If you or anyone you know has been charged with these or similar offenses, the consequences can be serious, resulting in substantial prison terms and financial penalties. Don’t delay in hiring legal representation to protect your freedom and your rights.

For additional information, see the following article: Bergen sheriff’s officer nabs Hackensack man with bogus driver’s license at Lodi MV

 

The Tormey Law Firm, LLC, in Paramus, New Jersey, serves clients in Bergen County, Morris County, Passaic County, Hudson County and beyond, including Hackensack, Fort Lee, East Rutherford, Elmwood Park, Englewood, Garfield, Lodi, Lyndhurst, Mahwah, Montvale, Paramus, Jersey City, Morristown, Dover, Denville, Parsippany, Mount Olive Paterson, Clifton, Wayne Palisades Interstate, Ridgefield Park, Saddle Brook and Teaneck.

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