On June 6, 2023, the New Jersey Appellate Division issued State v. Johnson, a valuable published opinion that clarifies the procedures that must be followed under the “vehicle registration search” exception to the warrant requirement. The vehicle registration search exception the warrant requirement authorizes police to enter a lawfully stopped vehicle to conduct a [...]
Domestic violence cases pose a unique challenge for prosecutors because domestic violence incidents are at once difficult to prosecute, yet extremely common, occurring, on average, about once every eight seconds throughout New Jersey, according to the statistics compiled by the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office. Domestic violence is difficult to prosecute because incidents usually [...]
In United States v. Fallon, a precedential opinion published on September 30, the Third Circuit reversed a defendant’s conviction for money laundering and, more importantly, issued a bright-line rule holding that financial transactions that take place before a defendant receives any proceeds from a fraudulent scheme cannot be considered “concealment” money laundering under 18 [...]
On April 19, 2021, one day after Governor Phil Murphy conditionally vetoed a bill that would have eliminated mandatory minimum prison sentences for a broad set of crimes, New Jersey’s Attorney General, Gurbir Grewal, issued a groundbreaking internal directive to prosecutors (the “Directive”) that exercised prosecutorial discretion to effectively eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug [...]
On February 22, 2021, New Jersey became the 14th state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana when Governor Phil Murphy signed a group of laws that enacted the marijuana legalization ballot measure approved by more than two-thirds of New Jersey voters in November.
One of the great tragedies of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the thousands of New Jersey pretrial detainees who – despite being presumed innocent and not having been convicted of any crime – are languishing in unsafe conditions in county jails while courts remain closed to jury trials. On February 11, 2021, the New Jersey Supreme Court endorsed the reopening of thousands of detention hearings by inmates detained for longer than six months, citing the “due process concerns” caused by the unexpectedly lengthy suspension of criminal trials in New Jersey.
Is the NJ Attorney General’s moratorium on marijuana prosecutions a “move toward decriminalization?” Probably not.
When New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal issued a memorandum yesterday ordering local prosecutors to temporarily halt marijuana prosecutions in municipal courts until September, news outlets, including the New York Times, called it a possible "step toward decriminalization." Amol Sinha, American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey executive director, praised the move, stating that "[b]y directing prosecutors to pause adjudication of marijuana cases, this letter starts that [decriminalization] process." Marijuana trade magazines were even more effusive.
While most people consider themselves unlikely to become the subject of a police investigation, there is one common situation in which ordinary citizens fall under police scrutiny: the traffic stop. Police officers are trained to search for evidence of illegal activity every time they pull over a driver, whatever the reason for the stop. While the consequences for speeding, failure to maintain lane, careless driving or Driving Under the Influence (DUI) can be bad enough – carrying the possibility of loss of driving privileges, assessment of motor vehicle points and higher insurance rates – things become far more serious if the police search for and find illegal drugs in a car. Teenagers and young adults – who are presumed by police to be more likely to be in possession of illegal recreational drugs – are often the targets of such searches late at night, while driving to and from wherever it is that teenagers actually disappear to when they leave the house to “hang out with friends.”
New Jersey Supreme Court curtails criminal harassment statute in State v. Burkert, limiting a common vehicle for domestic violence charges
New Jersey’s criminal harassment statute has long occupied the space in which the messiest family law disputes cross over into the realm of criminal law. Although there are indeed many legitimate cases of harassment that deserve punishment, in recent years New Jersey appellate courts increasingly had noted that the harassment statute too often criminalized “ordinary domestic contretemps” – i.e. the non-violent verbal sparring that accompanies the disintegration of a marriage or romantic relationship. In the view of the courts (and many frustrated family law and criminal attorneys), New Jersey’s harassment statute was too permissive in allowing an angry spouse or romantic partner to file criminal or civil domestic violence charges after being subjected to hurtful or vile insults, even where there had been no actual violence or threat of harm.
Under assault from criminal defense bar and gun rights groups, NJ Attorney General halts enforcement of unconstitutional stun gun laws
Facing legal challenges from both gun rights advocates as well as the criminal defense bar, New Jersey Attorney General Christopher Porrino on October 20, 2017 issued a memorandum to prosecutors and police departments halting the enforcement of criminal laws that prohibit the possession, manufacture, and shipment of “electronic arms” such as stun guns and Tasers. The legal challenges to New Jersey’s stun gun laws were triggered by a 2016 decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, Caetano v. Massachusetts, in which the Court applied the Second Amendment to strike down a Massachusetts law that prohibited the mere possession of stun guns, even if possessed for self-defense.