Juvenile avoids Lengthy Jamesburg Sentence

Keith G. Oliver, an associate in my office, just finished representing a sixteen year old male who was charged with aggravated assault in the second degree and conspiracy to commit aggravated assault in the second degree. If convicted, the juvenile could be sentenced up to three (3) years in a juvenile detention center (Jamesburg). The charges the juvenile faced stem from an incident where it is alleged that he and a group of ten other juveniles brutally attacked another juvenile. The victim suffered a broken jaw as a result of the attack along with several contusions. To be convicted of second degree aggravated assault, the prosecution would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim suffered serious bodily injury as a result of the attack. The New Jersey legislature has defined serious bodily injury as the type of injury that creates “a substantial risk of death or which causes serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ”.

Once Mr. Oliver was able to review the discovery, which included very lengthy medical records, he realized the state would several major problems proving this case beyond a reasonable doubt. One of the main issues the state would have is proving that a broken jaw qualifies as serious bodily injury. Mr. Oliver’s position is the type of injury sustained at the very least should be considered as significant bodily injury, which would make the assault a crime of the third degree and not a second degree. In addition, Mr. Oliver also realized that since the victim did not know his attackers, the only way that the state could prove his client was part of the attack would be based on the sole eyewitnesses identification. The ten plus juveniles alleged to be involved in the attack fled the scene and were later apprehended three towns away exiting a train. At this point the officers brought the sole eyewitness to the scene and simply asked him whether these were there the juveniles involved in the incident. This type of identification is improper under New Jersey law, as you can imagine a show up identification is highly suggestive. Traditionally identifications, should be conducted through a photo line-up, where the witness looks through an array of photos and attempts to identify who he saw commit the crime. This method drastically helps reduce the suggestiveness of an eyewitness identification. Therefore, Mr. Oliver would have requested a “Wade Hearing” to determine if the Judge would allow the witnesses identification to come in during trial. This was the key piece of evidence involved as this was the only way the state could show his client was involved in the attack.

Geared with this information Mr. Oliver began extensive negotiations with the prosecution. Mr. Oliver was able to convince the prosecution to allow his client to plead guilty to simple assault, which is a disorderly persons offense in New Jersey (misdemeanor). In addition, the client would be entitled to what is known as a deferred disposition, which means that if the juvenile is able to stay out of trouble for one year, then the charges will be outright dismissed and the juvenile will walk away with no criminal record as a result of this incident, let alone three years in Jamesburg.

The Law Offices of Marshall, Bonus, Proetta & Oliveris an experienced Bergen County Juvenile Defense Firm. We have been successfully defending juveniles in Bergen County for over fifteen years. If your child has been arrested in towns like Fort Lee, Lodi, Bogota, Midland Park, Edgewater, Bergenfield or Fair Lawn we can help. If you need any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact any one of our Bergen County Offices at 1-800-682-4037 for a free initial consultation.