State v. Gayle | Post-Conviction Relief Motion
Appellate Docket No.: A-1332-18T2
Decided May 1, 2020
Appellate Docket No. A-0575-14T4
Decided Mar 17, 2017
Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark
In a pair of unpublished opinion, the Appellate Division of New Jersey heard argument on the issues of admissibility of a device police used that can track gunshots and led to an arrest, as well as a post-conviction relief motion (PCR) based on ineffectiveness of counsel.
In State v. Gayle, Camden County police utilized city cameras to observe Defendant get in an altercation with another individual around 430 a.m. The Defendant and individual went out of view of the camera, and Shotspotter, the police’s gunshot-alert system activated. Shotspotter is a military developed system to triangulate sounds of gun shots to a pinpoint a location where the shot was fired.
Defendant was next observed running into a house, then leaving, grabbing his waistband leading police to believe he had a gun. Police were called to investigate the area, where they found Defendant in the back seat of a car, rummaging around. When they asked Defendant to exit the vehicle they saw a firearm underneath the seat of the car, and arrested defendant.
The Defendant was charged and indicted with second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, specifically, a .38 caliber handgun, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b) (count one); fourth-degree unlawful possession of hollow-nose bullets, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3(f) (count two); and second-degree certain persons not to possess weapons, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7(b) (count three).
Defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence of the gun, but at the hearing Defendant’s attorney did not object to evidence of use of the Shotspotter. Defendant’s motion was denied, and a jury trial was conducted. Defendant’s attorney also failed to object to evidence of the Shotspotter during his trial. Defendant was convicted.
In 2017, Defendant appealed and argued evidence of the Shotspotter should not have been allowed. The Appellate Division ruled that because Defendant’s counsel did not object, they did not find that there was a “plain error” enough to overturn the conviction.
In 2020, Defendant appealed from a denial of his PCR motion, arguing ineffectiveness of counsel. Defendant argued his attorney failed to encourage him to take the plea deal that was offered at the time, and instead insisted on going to trial. The Appellate Division found no evidence that his attorney failed to inform Defendant of the plea deal, and it was the Defendant who chose to decline the plea deal, not his lawyer.
If you find yourself with charges similar to the Defendant’s, such as unlawful possession, you need a lawyer who is knowledgeable about the rules of evidence and will object when the State and police try to introduce evidence that should not be admissible. The Shotspotter in the case is advanced technology and Defendant’s attorney should have object and argued that the State need to produce an expert to show how the device worked and how accurate the system was. Instead, Defendant’s lawyer failed to object and Defendant was convicted. It is unclear exactly what the result would have been had Defendant’s counsel objected, but Defendant certainly would have been put in a better position for a more favorable plea deal and a much better position at trial.
At Hark & Hark, we represent clients in Superior 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.
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 county in New Jersey including Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Mercer, Ocean, and Salem counties.