Once again, it shows how retaining an experienced, agressive criminal defense
attorney pays off for criminal defendants.
Several months ago I was retained by a defendant who had several extremely
serious charges in Essex County. My client was charged with First Degree
Robbery, Second Degree
Aggravated Assault, Third Degree
Terroristic Threats, Third Degree
Criminal Restraint, Third Degree
Burglary, Third Degree
Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose and Fourth Degree
Unlawful Possession of a Weapon.
Obviously, this case was VERY serious. My client was accusesd of accosting
his girlfriend in the basement of their house, pressing a knife to her
throat while threatening to kill her, then forcing her to buy him an airline
ticket back to their home state of Michigan. Any physical assault, much
less one arising from a domestic situation is taken VERY seriously in
The State's original plea offer was a "7 NERA" sentence.
This means that my client would be sentenced to 7 years in New Jersey
State Prison subject to the "No Early Release Act (NERA)". NERA
imposes mandatory minimum prison sentences on defendants pleading guilty
to crimes committed while using a weapon. A NERA plea means that a defendant
MUST do 85% of the sentence before they even become ELIGIBLE for parole!!
This is deadly serious stuff we are talking about.
So my client who had no prior criminal history was going to be close to
six years in prison. Not good.
Bearing in mind that there were no eyewitnesses to this incident except
for the parties, my initial strategy was to find ways to attack the credibility
of the alleged victim. I was going to retain a private investigator to
hopefully find some dirt. Maybe a prior criminal conviction, perhaps a
substance abuse problem. It sounds dirty, but what if it was you or your
child that was facing state prison?
As the case developed, it became obvious that my client had a serious alcohol
problem and the victim likewise conveyed that to the State. My client
was in and out of treatment twice while the case was moving forward. All
proof of his rehab efforts were forwarded to the State. All the while,
I was trying to convince the State that treatment was the answer, not
a lengthy prison sentence.
After many go-arounds, I was able to secure a straight probationary sentence
for this young man, meaning NO incarceration whatsoever!! All he needs
to do is follow the mandates of his treatment facility, e.g. if they want
him in-patient for six months, he does six months in-patient; if they
want daily AA meetings, he does them.
Given the serious nature of the original charges, this deal is an absolute
home-run for this young man. He avoids a LONG prison sentence and is essentially
forced to get the substance abuse treatment he needs to get his life on track.