Generally, when a person is tried on criminal charges, the court will instruct the jury as to the elements of the crime, to help the jurors to accurately determine whether the defendant is guilty or innocent. Thus, if a judge fails to adequately instruct a jury on a charged offense and the defendant is convicted regardless, it may constitute a violation of the defendant’s right to due process and a fair trial. The method for determining the sufficiency of jury instructions was recently discussed in a New Jersey case in which the defendant appealed his conviction for burglary, arguing that the instructions were inadequate. If you are accused of burglary or another crime, it is prudent to consult a trusted New Jersey criminal defense attorney to assess your charges and possible defenses.
Facts of the Case
It is alleged that the defendant broke into his neighbor’s home via the window, along with an accomplice. The defendant dragged the neighbor through the home, threatening her, and physically assaulted her before leaving. The accomplice physically attacked the neighbor’s friend, who was staying at her home that evening as well. The defendant did not take anything from the home, but the neighbor suffered injuries due to the attack.
Reportedly, the defendant was charged with numerous crimes, including burglary. He was convicted as charged, after which he appealed on several grounds. As to the burglary charge, he argued the trial court failed to properly instruct the jury as to the elements of the crime, thereby violating his rights to due process and a fair trial.