Challenging the Trial Judge Erred by Denying His Motion to Dismiss Count One of the Indictment

State v. Decker

Appellate Docket No.: A-3928-17T1

Decided September 29, 2020

Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.

In an unpublished opinion, the Appellate Division of New Jersey reviewed a trial court’s denial of defendant’s pretrial motion to dismiss a count of him being a leader of a gun trafficking unit.

In State v. Decker, after the trial court denied defendant’s pre-trial motions covering a number of different issues, he pled guilty to two counts of second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon by a certain person not to possess weapons, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7(b)(1). In accordance with the terms of the negotiated plea, the court sentenced defendant to two concurrent ten-year terms, with an aggregate five-year period of parole ineligibility. As part of the plea, the court dismissed the remaining twenty-one counts of the indictment that pertained to defendant, including a count charging him with being the leader of a firearms trafficking network, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-16, which defendant had unsuccessfully moved to dismiss prior to entering his guilty plea.

Defendant appealed arguing that the trial judge erred by denying his motion to dismiss count one of the indictment, which charged him with being the leader of a firearms trafficking network involving himself and two of his codefendants, Jason Siek and Daquan Smith. The Appellate Division found defendant pled guilty to two counts of the indictment charging him with certain persons weapons offenses. In return for his guilty plea, all of the remaining charges against him, including count one, were dismissed. Because defendant has already received all the relief he is seeking on this part of his appeal, that is, the dismissal of count one of the indictment, his challenge to the trial judge’s denial of his earlier motion to dismiss that charge is obviously moot.

This case is very important in regard to defendants being offered plea deals.  In this matter, the defendant was offered a plea deal in exchange, dismissing many counts he was charged with.  Defendant then challenged one of the charges that was dismissed.  The law is clear that a dismissed count cannot be argued on appeal – even if it was part of the reason the defendant took the deal in the first place.  In order to challenge part of a plea deal, the charge must be included in the plea deal.  Therefore, it is important to hire attorney experienced in pretrial motions to remove counts that should no pertain to a defendant in order to get the best result.  Do not be surprised at trial because you chose a public defender.  Make the call to Hark & Hark today.

At Hark & Hark, we represent clients in Superior Court for criminal matters like the present case involving motions to suppress. We vigorously defend our clients by fighting to uphold their constitutional rights, and ensure law enforcement follow proper procedures to legally make an arrest.

We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing criminal charges similar to this circumstance, please call us to discuss the matter. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any town in New Jersey including Bloomingdale, Clifton, Haledon, Hawthorne, Little Falls, North Haledon, Passaic, Paterson, Pompton Lakes, Prospect Park, Ringwood, Singac, Totowa, Wanaque, Wayne, West Milford, and Woodland Park.

Criminal Civil Lawyer

Jeffrey Hark is a New Jersey Civil and Criminal Lawyer.

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