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I always profess that domestic violence and retraining order issues effect all types of individuals.  We saw this revelation, once again, hold to be true when a prominent Somerville lawyer was reported to have “a dozen charges in three towns” , including alleged violations of a restraining order filed by his wife.  Apparently, this lawyer’s wife filed for divorce and things have unraveled quite dramatically with him being jailed for violations of a New Jersey restraining order.  The attorney already had pending charges stemming from a leaving the scene of an accident case and a separate DWI case in another municipality.

DWI and domestic violence can sometimes have a common thread – excessive alcohol.  This appears to be the case for the lawyer in this case and he certainly is not alone.  New Jersey’s DWI laws and domestic violence statutes are some of the stiffest in the Nation but access to a competent defense lawyer probably should not be an issue in this case.  Hopefully, this guy can get it together like so many individuals we represent, and negotiate this mind field without too much impact on his future.

Screen shot of Bureau of Prison's Website There is little doubt that the tabloids try to hype up information, especially when it comes to reality stars. Knowing this to be the case, I immediately questioned whether Teresa Giudice actually received a reduced sentence like what was portrayed in the press or whether the release date simply took into account jail credit for good behavior.

The Honorable Esther Salas imposed a federal prison term of fifteen (15) months for conspiracy and bankruptcy fraud. Mrs. Giudice surrendered to Danbury Federal Correctional Institute on January 8, 2015 in accordance with the terms of her sentence. This translated into a release date of approximately April 8, 2016. Notwithstanding this calculation, the Federal Bureau of Prisons website indicates that Teresa Giudice’s anticipated release date is February 5, 2016. Various tabloids have attempted to sensationalize the earlier release date, implying that it represents a special break that was afforded to Mrs. Giudice.

The United States Code of Federal Regulation specifies the jail credit to be afforded prisoners. Section 3624 of Title 18 provides, in pertinent part, that:

USA Today reported Friday that OJ lost his bid for a new trial. The primary basis for the motion was erroneous rulings limiting cross-examination of witnesses and errors during jury instruction. OJ is now going to have to wait until his appeal is heard before he can hope to be released from jail.  

Applications for post-conviction relief, such as motions for a new trial, are actually commonplace in our New Jersey criminal defense law firm.  However, success on these types of petitions require good facts, law, and/or creative argument.  The Judge in OJ’s case apparently found nothing of a reversible nature and now it is on to appeal.  The outcome is not surprising as it is often very difficult to get a trial judge to grant a new trial based on his or her own error, after trying a case for weeks.  This is why it is so important to get things right if at all possible at trial as “do overs” are the limited exception.  I am sure OJ’s Las Vegas defense attorney has a better prospective on what happened.  In any case, OJ’s involvement with the judiciary shall continue.

While I can be a very compassionate defense lawyer, some guys have real huts-pa.  After killing a women in a DWI related accident, Jim Leyritz was order to install an ignition interlock in his vehicle as a condition of his bail.  The NY Post is reporting that Leyritz filed an application with the Court to remove the interlock because valets had problems driving his car and there were false positive readings if Leyritz ate certain foods like chicken marsala. 

Am I missing something here?  I sincerely hope that the report was incomplete or inaccurate because, otherwise, Leyritz needs to get his head examined.  You are about to go on trial for killing a women and you have your attorney file a motion like this — the inflammatory nature of the application is immeasurable.  You need only review some of the comments to the article and it is immediately apparent just how explosive this is going to become.  Now you are going to have a family that is only more incensed.  Media and the like who are going to have absolutely no compassion for Leyritz.  Lastly, what message is it sending to the court that may oversee the trial or sentencing of Leyritz?  This move would not have been one I made defending someone in a similar situation in New Jersey.  Perhaps I am just missing a piece of the pie.

The suspension period for a First Offense under New Jersey’s DWI statute is tiered based on blood alcohol content. While a first offense carries 7-12 months suspension where the accused has a BAC in excess of .10, the license suspension for a first offender is limited to 3 months if the readings are below .10 but in excess of .08.  The experience of our offices has been, however, that the readings blown by an accused does not necessarily translate into how he will be penalized at the conclusion of a case handled by our dwi lawyers.

Drager’s Alcotest has been phased into operation throughout NJ and almost every police department is conducting its breath tests on this machine.  The manufacturer’s specifications for operation of the Alcotest mandates that certain protocol be followed and many of these requirements are embodied in the New Jersey Administrative Code.  Failure to adhere to these mandates by police officers operating the Alcotest translate into suppression of the Alcotest readings and a drunk driving case with no breath test readings.  This result has been achieved by our DWI defense team in an extraordinary percentage of cases based on thorough pretrial discovery and expert testimony preparation. These downgrades for First Offenders have included cases involving extreme Alcotest readings (e.g. readings in excess of .20).

As a 43 year male, Heather Locklear has always been one of my favorites.  It is also relatively intriguing that she has a thing for Jersey boys.  But enough with the kidding.  She has obviously had some difficulty lately and she probably is no different than many of our clients when it comes to drugs and/or alcohol. Her September arrest for DUI is apparently based on “intoxication” from prescription medication of some kind as no alcohol or illegal narcotics were in her blood at the time of the arrest.

 
In NJ, some of the most defensible DWI cases are those involving drugs as opposed to alcohol.  The reason for this is the fact that while there are standard field sobriety tests and breath tests for alcohol, things are more specialized when it comes to drug DWI.  The police officers must have specialized training qualifying them as a Drug Recognition Expert or their testimony generally is inadmissible to establish a drug DWI in NJ.  I suspect that the same holds true in California but someone like Lawrence Taylor, a California DUI lawyer many view as the god father of DUI defense probably has a better idea of how things will go on this issue.  I wish her the best of luck although I venture that the defense of celebrities like her can get complicated given the media involvement.

It is obviously common for Junior and Seniors in New Jersey High Schools to drive to school.   Kids are now going to have to reconsider this decision given the recent decision of the Appellate Division in State v.  Best (11/17/08 Law Journal).  In this regard, the Court expanded the ability of schools to search student vehicles, concluding that because of :

the strong state interest in maintaining order, safety and discipline in the school environment, neither probable cause nor a warrant is required.  The privacy interests of students are outweighed by the substantial interest of teachers and administrators in maintaining a drug-free environment on school grounds.  Such vehicle searches need satisfy only the reasonable suspicion standard adopted in T.L.O.

The net result of Best is to create a wider exception to the warrant requirement as it related to motor vehicle searches of student vehicles on school property.  A search will now be valid even where probable cause is lacking so long as the school possessed “reasonable suspicion” that the vehicle contained drugs or contraband.

It is always interesting when you are requested to give legal commentary.  I really got a kick Thursday when I received a call from a writer/researcher from the Fox television show House.  I could not help but appreciate the irony of being enlisted on such a dark show when my New Jersey criminal defense practice has such a dark side as well.  

I was even more excited when the writer told me why he was calling me.  He had done some research on a potential plot that involved someone being arrested in New Jersey for urinating in public, and his research indicated that I was a prominent authority on this subject.  What a pinnacle of achievement. Perhaps I can parlay this into a specialty in NJ lewdness charges.  Anything is possible!!!

Another New Jersey politician was found guilty of criminal misconduct this past week.  This time, however, the conviction involved the highest ranking political figure in recent times.  The former chairmen of the senate budget committee, Senator Wayne Bryant, was found guilty last Tuesday of fraud.  The fraud stemmed from a “slow show” job at the University of Medicine & Dentistry.  The job was essentially found to be a payoff for funding Bryant procured for the University.

Fraud can be a difficult charge to prove in a Court of law.  This may explain why Senator Bryant chose to go to trial in the matter as opposed to accepting a plea bargain for much less time than the 15 years of Federal jail exposure he is now looking at.  The assessment of whether to proceed to trial on a fraud charge can be a difficult one and this time it may have backfired.  A thorough assessment of the positives and negatives of proceeding to trial is always a must.  In the end, however, no one can precisely predict what a jury will do.  I am sure Senator Bryant did not anticipate this outcome.

Periodically, the New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts publishes statistics concerning the number of DWI offenses issued in each municipality. The 2008 statistics (Year Ending October 2008) are out and are contained at the Judiciary Website. The major players continue to be the same and I am not surprised given the volume of cases every NJ DWI Lawyer at our firm has handle this year in these towns. 

In Union County, Linden had the highest DWI total at 57 with Elizabeth at 56 and Union at 50. In Somerset County, Bridgewater was the leader at 108 with Hillsborough and Someset well behind at 56 and 33 DWI cases, respectively.  Ocean County had some rather significant figures with numerous municipalities exceeding 50 summonses. Brick came in at 126, Dover at 91, Lacey at 79, and Stafford at 72.  Wall led Monmouth County at 81, with Holmdel slightly behind at 80. Middletown and Howell had 75 and 68 DWI charges. East Brunswick was a big force for DWI summonses once again.  It came in at 131, with Woodbridge at 125 and Old Bridge at 67. Jersey City issued 81 DWI tickets in Hudson County, with Union City second at 72 cases.

The police departments around the state were obviously busy during the last year.  With such volume, there are always opportunities for mistakes and technicalities.  

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