Prior Convictions Admitted in Gun Crime Case, Despite the Conviction Being More Than 10 Years Prior – Evidence That Is Normally Not Admissible
Appellate Docket No.: A-0850-18T3
Decided August 3, 2020
Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark
In a recent decision approved for publication, the Appellate Division reviewed whether there was a kidnapping under the statute while a sex assault occurred.
In State v. Hedgespeth, defendant was convicted of third-degree possession of a controlled dangerous substance, N.J.S.A. 2C:35-l0(a); and second-degree possession of a handgun without a permit, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b). He subsequently pled guilty to second-degree certain persons not to have weapons, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7(b)(1).
The convictions stemmed from officers observing the butt of a handgun in defendant’s waistband when he urinated in an alleyway, as a result of which they searched him and recovered the gun. During the ensuing search incident to his arrest, the officers also found cocaine on defendant’s person. Defendant’s pre-trial motion to suppress the evidence seized was denied. On December 1, 2017, defendant was sentenced to an aggregate term of eight years’ imprisonment with a five-year period of parole ineligibility.
Defendant appealed. The Appellate Division affirmed on the basis that the State was permitted to use defendant’s prior convictions against him, despite the conviction being more than 10 years prior – evidence that is normally not admissible – the Appellate Division still affirmed as a harmless error. The Appellate Division also affirmed the trial court’s admission of an affidavit from a police officer providing the defendant lacked a handgun permit, although the police officer did not testify.
Knowledge of the rules of evidence is vital in criminal defense. The police and prosecutor will use everything they can against a defendant, even if it is inadmissible under the rules. Make sure you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney with knowledge of the Court rules and evidence to ensure your rights are protected.
If you have been charged with any first degree crime, second degree crime, third degree crime, fourth degree crime, disorderly persons offense, municipal ordinance violation, or traffic ticket / DUI/DWI, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney today. Failing to hire a defense attorney and putting your faith in a public defender could give you the same result as the defendant in this case!
At Hark & Hark, we represent clients in Superior Court and municipal court for criminal matters like the present case. We vigorously defend our clients by fighting to ensure prosecutors, police, and even judges follow the law.
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