Articles Posted in Kidnapping

In criminal matters, the State bears the burden of proving a defendant’s guilt. In contrast, while criminal defendants can set forth evidence if they choose to, they are not required to prove their innocence. Recently, a New Jersey court addressed a defendant’s challenge that a jury instruction regarding flight from the scene impermissibly shifted the burden of proof from the State to the defendant, in a matter in which the defendant was convicted of numerous crimes, including aggravated assault. If you are charged with assault or another serious offense, it is wise to talk to a skillful New Jersey assault defense attorney regarding what evidence the State may try to produce against you at trial.

The Alleged Criminal Acts and Trial

It is reported that an altercation broke out at a bar in New Jersey. The fight spilled into the street, and multiple gunshots were fired. Three people died, and numerous other people suffered injuries. During their investigation, the police identified the defendant as the individual who fired the shots. He was charged with multiple crimes, including kidnapping, first-degree murder, and aggravated assault.

Allegedly, during the trial, evidence was presented that after the incident, the defendant went to Florida, despite previously having no plans to do so. The trial court set forth a jury charge regarding flight as consciousness of guilt, and the defendant did not object to the substance of the charge at trial. He was convicted of many of the charges and sentenced to ninety-nine years in prison. He then appealed, arguing in part that the jury charge improperly shifted the burden of proof from the State onto him.

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In any criminal case, the State must prove each element of the charged offense in order to obtain a guilty verdict. Thus, if the State cannot demonstrate an element of a crime, the defendant should not be convicted, and any conviction based on inadequate facts should be overturned. In a recent case, a New Jersey appellate court discussed what the State must establish to prove guilt for a kidnapping offense, specifically discussing the element of a substantial period of confinement. If you are charged with kidnapping or any other felony, it is advisable to consult a knowledgeable New Jersey criminal defense attorney to assess what evidence the State may produce against you.

Factual History of the Case

It is reported that the defendant held a knife to a woman’s neck and forced her to perform sex acts for several hours, despite her protests. She was ultimately rescued by a passerby. The defendant was charged with numerous crimes, including first-degree kidnapping. He was convicted as charged, after which he appealed, arguing that the State had failed to prove the substantial period of confinement requirement of the kidnapping offense. His appeal was granted, after which the State appealed. On appeal, the appellate court reinstated the defendant’s conviction.

The Substantial Period of Confinement Element of Kidnapping Crimes

Under the relevant statute, a person that moves a party a substantial distance or unlawfully confines someone else for a substantial period will be found guilty of kidnapping if the act is undertaken for the purpose of committing a crime or inflicting bodily harm. Further, unless a defendant releases his or her victim unharmed and in a safe environment, kidnapping is a first-degree crime. The statute does not define the terms substantial distance or significant period, however.

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