I recently represented a client in East Hanover Municipal Court who was originally charged with burglary, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2, a crime of the third degree, and theft, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-7A, a crime of the fourth degree. These are indictable criminal offenses which must be handled at the Morris County Superior Court in Morristown, New Jersey.
The circumstances surrounding the alleged offense were as follows. My client was a young man from Pennsylvania with no prior criminal record who was visiting New Jersey with a friend and staying at the Ramada Inn in East Hanover. An incident occurred between my client and his friend and another group of young men wherein my client’s friend was assaulted and punched in the jaw by members of the other group. My client, who was sleeping at the time, was then summonmed by his friend to respond and these two individuals went to the other guys room and flipped over their mattresses, etc. in response to the assault. My client and his friend were then arrested for burglary and theft for allegedly stealing a pair of blue jeans from the hotel room.
As you can see, this was not a strong burglary case for the State. To prove a burglary, the State must prove unlawful entry AND that the defendant’s entered with the intent to commit a crime therein. In this case, my client and his friend entered the room looking for the other guys and, when they weren’t present, responded by messing up their hotel room. Based on these circumstances, I was successful in convincing the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office that these charges should be remanded to Municipal Court. As a result, the case was sent back to East Hanover Municipal Court for disposition.
In East Hanover Municipal Court my client was still facing disorderly persons offenses which would result in a criminal record if convicted. However, I was again successful in convincing the East Hanover Municipal Prosecutor to amend the disorderly persons charges to a municipal ordinance violation for disturbing the peace which results in a fine and no criminal record. This was the proper result in this case and my client and his family were extremely grateful that he was able to avoid a criminal record and jail in this case.