William Isaksen, a 28-year-old man from Stafford Township, will receive a new trial by jury, New Jersey criminal lawyers report. Last year, a Middlesex County jury convicted Isaksen to a three-year jail sentence in connection with a failed burglary. But this year, Isaksen’s case will be re-tried thanks to a reversal ruling from the Appellate Division, New Jersey criminal attorneys say.
In 2009, police found Isaksen sitting in an idling car outside a house while his friend Justin Mercer was inside. Both men were arrested, and Isaksen was charged with third-degree conspiracy to commit theft and second-degree burglary. At trial, Mercer told the judge and jury that the burglary was his own idea, and the judge found Isaksen guilty only of second-degree burglary. At the original trial, Isaksen exercised his right not to testify on his own behalf. The judge presiding over the trial, Superior Court Judge Michael Toto, failed to instruct the jury not to hold Isaksen’s decision against him in their decision.
New Jersey criminal attorneys argued that, in failing to instruct the jury, Judge Toto violated Isaksen’s Fifth Amendment rights—all those facing a trial by jury have the right to not incriminate themselves. Many defendants choose to exercise their Fifth Amendment right by refusing to testify at their own trials. The Appellate Division panel noted that there was no way of knowing if “the judge’s failure to instruct the jury on defendant’s decision not to testify did not play a role in the jury’s credibility determination.” Isaksen’s attorneys argued that the outcome of the trial led to a three-year prison sentence that may have been avoided had the jury been instructed properly.
A conviction at a trial by jury does not always mean that the decision is set in stone. The New Jersey criminal attorneys at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, PA know that convictions are often overturned on appeal because of trial technicalities and other issues. If you or a loved one has been convicted of a crime, contact one of our experienced New Jersey criminal lawyers today for a free consultation.