Sixth Amendment Constitutional Protections Lead to Dismissed Charges
The Sixth Amendment rarely gets mentioned in the police dramas but it is a very effective tool when it comes to defending clients. We recently were able to have the charges against our client of assault by physical menace, (N.J.S.A. 2 C: 12 – 1A (3)), reckless driving (N.J.S.A. 39: 4-96) careless driving (N.J.S.A. 39: 4-97) dismissed in Moorestown Municipal court after a successful motion to bar evidence based on Sixth Amendment grounds.
The Sixth Amendment provides many important protections for someone accused of a crime. The Sixth Amendment states:
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.”
In the Moorestown Municipal Court, it was alleged that our client intentionally drove her motor vehicle into the alleged victim’s lane of traffic in an effort to cause him to fear for his physical safety. Our client’s accuser then told the police that our client chased him in her car. The accuser was the estranged husband of our client. In his statement to the police, the accuser referenced text messages and asserted the incident was “documented” on his cell phone. Our client plead not guilty and steadfastly maintained the charges against her were false.
After reviewing the accuser’s statement to the police, our office requested copies of the text messages and images from accuser’s cell phone. We went to court on several occasions to obtain this discovery. The requested discovery was important to our trial strategy and we intended to use it to aggressively cross-examine our client’s accuser. The requested discovery was never produced and we filed a motion to suppress the testimony of the accuser and prevent the state from using the accuser’s statement at the time of trial.
In our brief to the court, we successfully argued the Sixth Amendment provides a right “to be confronted with the witnesses against [the defendant]” and the right of confrontation includes the right of cross-examination. The court agreed that if the text messages and other cell phone media were not produced that the defendant did not have a meaningful ability to confront and cross-examine the witnesses against her. Accordingly, the Moorestown Municipal Court Judge suppressed the statement and testimony of the accuser. Once the testimony of the accuser was suppressed we made a motion to have the charges against our client dismissed. Given that the state’s case rested solely upon the testimony of the accuser our motion was granted the charges against our client were dismissed.
If you or someone you know is facing criminal or traffic-related charges in a New Jersey Municipal Court ranging from DUI/DWI charges to license suspensions, contact the attorneys at DeMichele & DeMichele today. Email us now for your confidential and free initial consultation. You can also reach us by telephone (856) 546-1350.