I represented a client recently who was charged with 2nd degree eluding arising out of Parsippany, New Jersey. This second degree indictable (felony) level charge must be handled at the Morris County Superior Court in Morristown, New Jersey. My client was facing five (5) to ten (10) years in New Jersey State Prison with a presumption of incarceration. This means that, even with no prior criminal record, it is presumed that you will receive a state prison sentence if you are convicted of a second degree offense. Moreover, he was facing a permanent indictable (felony) charge on his record. Finally, because he is a permanent resident (green card holder), he would be deported if he was convicted of any indictable (felony) level offense.
My client was a young man and college student with no prior criminal record. He was riding a motorcycle around his neighborhood in Parsippany, New Jersey when he was stopped by police. He had never ridden a motorcycle before and was borrowing his cousin’s bike to cruise around the neighborhood. When I received and reviewed the videotape evidence from the officer’s police vehicle, it was apparent to me that this was not a 2nd degree eluding charge.
An eluding criminal charge in New Jersey is governed by N.J.S. 2C:29-2(b) which provides in pertinent part:
§ 2C:29-2. Resisting arrest, eluding officer
b. Any person, while operating a motor vehicle on any street or highway in this State or any vessel, as defined pursuant to section 2 of P.L. 1995, c. 401, on the waters of this State, who knowingly flees or attempts to elude any police or law enforcement officer after having received any signal from such officer to bring the vehicle or vessel to a full stop commits a crime of the third degree; except that, a person is guilty of a crime of the second degree if the flight or attempt to elude creates a risk of death or injury to any person. For purposes of this subsection, there shall be a permissive inference that the flight or attempt to elude creates a risk of death or injury to any person if the person’s conduct involves a violation of chapter 4 of Title 39 or chapter 7 of Title 12 of the Revised Statutes. In addition to the penalty prescribed under this subsection or any other section of law, the court shall order the suspension of that person’s driver’s license, or privilege to operate a vessel, whichever is appropriate, for a period of not less than six months or more than two years.
The complaint in this case alleged that my client saw the police officer attempt to pull him over and then ran in an attempt to elude the police officer at an extremely high rate of speed. When I reviwed the video evidence, it was clear to me that the officer failed to turn his sirens on until my client had already sped off on the motorcycle. Moreover, according to my client, he did not see or hear any sirens until he saw lights out of the corner of his eye and then he attempted to pull the motorcycle over and flipped the bike. This version of events was corroborated by the video evidence and clearly showed that my client was a novice with the motorcycle and didn’t know what he was doing.
I was able to convince the assistant prosecutor in Morris County that the 2nd degree eluding charge could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. As such, the charge was amended to a third degree eluding offense. Then, based on my client’s lack of prior criminal history, his ties to the community, and his status as a green card holder, I was able to convince the State that he should be admitted into the Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program. This program is for first time offenders who have no criminal record and their charges are non-violent. My client received two (2) years probationary treatment and two-hundred (200) hours of community service. As long as he completes the two years probation successfully while avoiding any other arrests and completing his community service, the charges will be dismissed at the end of his probation. He will have no record and this will allow him to remain in the country and avoid deportation. This was a tremendous success for the client and my firm.