Defendant’s Appeal of His Conviction and Sentence for Possession of Fentanyl and Weapons
State of New Jersey v. Tahir Gregory
Docket No. A-0460-20
Decided November 29, 2022
Submitted by New Jersey Drug Crime Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark.
In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Court of New Jersey decided defendant’s appeal of his conviction and sentence for possession of fentanyl and weapons.
Defendant was indicted by a grand jury with third-degree possession of fentanyl; third-degree possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute it; second-degree possession of fentanyl with intent to distribute it within 500 feet of a public housing facility, public park, or public building; second-degree unlawful possession of a handgun without a permit; and second-degree certain persons not to possess a firearm. Before the commencement of trial, the trial judge denied the defendant’s motion to represent himself.
Defendant was subsequently convicted by a jury on counts one, two, and three. The jury found defendant not guilty of the weapons possession charge and the trial judge dismissed count five. The trial judge then merged counts one and two into count three, and sentenced defendant to an extended term of fifteen years in prison with seven and a half years of parole ineligibility. Defendant appealed.
On appeal, defendant made multiple arguments regarding his conviction and sentence, but the Appellate Court only entertained defendant’s first argument since that argument’s ruling made the others moot. Defendant contended in his first argument that he was entitled to a new trial because the trial court addressed his request to proceed pro se by testing his knowledge of the law rather than assessing whether his waiver of the right to counsel was knowing and voluntary. Defendant also argued that the trial court misinformed him about the role of standby counsel.
The Appellate Court of New Jersey agreed with the defendant’s position and determined that the trial judge did not sufficiently address his motion to represent himself. The Appellate Court indicated in their decision that by testing defendant’s technical legal knowledge as opposed to determining whether he was knowingly and intelligently waiving his right to counsel, the trial court violated defendant’s right to represent himself. The judge asked the defendant personal background questions along with technical questions regarding the nature of the charges, statutory elements of the offenses, sentencing consequences, motion practice, trial strategy, and other legal topics. Since the trial judge focused entirely on defendant’s knowledge of the law and did not inform him of the nature and consequences of his waiver to ensure that the waiver was knowing and intelligent as New Jersey jurisprudence requires, the trial judge violated the defendant’s right to represent himself. Therefore, the trial court’s decision was reversed and the matter was remanded for a new trial.
At Hark & Hark, we are experienced attorneys who represent clients in Superior Court for issues like the previously discussed case pertaining to motions to appeal convictions and sentences based on judicial misconduct/error. We work hard to ensure that our clients receive exceptional representation in order for them to receive the most favorable outcome in their case as a result.
We offer payment plan options to clients financially incapable of providing full payment upfront. If you are facing a similar situation to that of the defendant in this case, please call us to discuss the matter. At Hark & Hark, we represent clients for any case in any county in New Jersey including Atlantic County, Bergen County, Burlington County, Camden County, Cape May County, Cumberland County, Essex County, Gloucester County, Hudson County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Monmouth County, Morris County, Ocean County, Passaic County, Salem County, Somerset County, Sussex County, Union County, and Warren County and any town including Audubon, Gloucester City, Oaklyn, Audubon Park, Gloucester Township, Pennsauken, Barrington, Haddon Heights, Pine Hill, Bellmawr, Haddon Township, Pine Valley, Berlin Borough, Haddonfield, Runnemede, Berlin Township, Hi-Nella, Somerdale, Brooklawn, Laurel Springs, Stratford, Camden, Lawnside, Voorhees, Cherry Hill, Lindenwold, Waterford, Chesilhurst, Magnolia, Winslow, Clementon, Merchantville, Woodlynne, Collingswood, Mt. Ephraim, and Gibbsboro.
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