Defendants Are Entitled to Cross Examine Witnesses in Criminal Complaints and Charges Against Them
Appellate Docket No.: A-14-20 and A-22-20
Decided December 27, 2021
Submitted by New Jersey New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark
In recent opinions of the Supreme Court of New Jersey, the Court addressed whether an affidavit can be relied upon at trial which provided that the defendants did not appear in the firearm permit database, or whether the witness was required to be produced at trial.
In State v. Carrion and State v. Hedgespeth, both defendants were subject to similar circumstances in that the State to address an element of the unlawful possession charge — the lack of a firearm permit — the State produced a witness who testified she oversaw a search of the Essex County gun records performed by her secretary, which returned no firearm permit for defendant. At trial, instead of producing the officer that conducted the search, the State produced a replacement, which testified as to the affidavit that was submitted by the officer that actually conducted the search.
Defendants were convicted in both cases and each challenged the submission of the affidavit.
The Supreme Court found in both cases that the affidavit should not have been permitted and that the officer that conducted the search should have been produced and required to testify, in violation of the Confrontation Clause of the Constitution. Defendants’ each had their guilty findings thrown out.
This case is important to understand defendants are entitled to confront and cross examine witnesses in criminal complaints and charges against them. This is guaranteed by the Confrontation Clause of the Constitution. The State cannot rely on affidavits and certifications in place of live testimony, as the defendant has no ability to cross examine a document.
If you or someone you know have been charged with any indictable offense or disorderly persons involving a search and/or questioning of police, contact the experienced attorney at Hark & Hark to ensure you are adequately defended, otherwise you could have negative impacts on your case.
At Hark & Hark, we represent clients in Superior Court for criminal matters like the present case. We vigorously defend our clients by fighting to uphold their constitutional rights, and ensure law enforcement follow proper procedures to legally make an arrest.
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