In an important ruling for New Jersey criminal defense lawyers, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court has held that a man cannot be prosecuted for two separate crimes committed in two different states if the charges relate to the same conduct.
26-year-old Justin Britt, who stole PlayStations, computer games and other equipment from a home in 2010, was arrested in Pennsylvania. He entered a plea agreement and, as part of the deal, was sentenced to up to a year in prison and ordered to pay $1,300 in restitution. He was released after spending several days in jail.
In April 2011, Britt was indicted by a Warren County Grand Jury on charges of third-degree theft by knowingly receiving movable property, believing it was probably stolen. According to court documents, he tried to sell the PlayStation and other stolen goods to a store in the Phillipsburg Mall. When the trial judge later dismissed the indictment, the state appealed.
The appellate court upheld the trial court’s decision that the conviction in Pennsylvania was based on the same conduct on which Britt had been charged in the indictment in Warren County. The appellate court agreed with the trial judge that New Jersey's interests were sufficiently served by the conviction in Pennsylvania.
The appellate court also agreed that the two charges were not exactly similar but since they were based on a single incident – the theft in Pennsylvania – there was no need to recharge Britt in New Jersey for attempting to sell the stolen goods. The court also noted that prosecutors in Warren County offered Britt a plea deal for 364 days in jail, similar to deal offered to him in Pennsylvania.
The New Jersey criminal defense lawyers at Helmer Paul Conley and Kasselman represent persons charged with sex crimes, drug crimes, murder, fraud, assault and other crimes across New Jersey.