Our Middlesex County criminal attorneys recently defended a client who was charged with burglary under 2C:18-2a, conspiracy to commit the burglary under 2C:5-2a(1) and employing a juvenile in the commission of a crime under 2C:24-9a. The charges arose out of an incident involving our client and two other friends after they conspired to break into their high school at night but using a knife to cut through the screen mess after popping open the window. Based on the police investigation, they determined that the defendants had broken into the school to steal proceeds from a charity fundraiser but after breaking into the locked cabinet and safe they did not find anything. The evidence was strong because the cops had confiscated the kids’ phones and had copies of the text messages they had sent planning the burglary. Moreover, one of the defendants had cooperated with the police and admitted to everything that had happened including our client’s involvement.
What Penalties Were They Looking At?
To make matters worse, one of the individuals was under 18 years old at the time and actively conspired with our client and the other co-defendant who were adults. This led to the police charging our client with a second degree crime for using a minor in the commission of the crime of burglary. Second degree crimes can be very complicated for several reasons. First, there is normally a prohibition against Pre-Trial Intervention for a second degree charge. Secondly, if convicted, a second degree crime carries a presumption of state prison incarceration even for a first time offender, which means you are almost certain to go to prison. This period of incarceration can range from 5 – 10 years. This type of sentence could be devastating for anybody, let alone an 18 year old kid with no record.
How We Did It
Needless to say, however, the prosecutor had little sympathy for our client and his friends based on the fact they targeted a charity for child in need of help. Based on the fact that it was our client’s first arrest, we applied him for PTI to have the case reviewed by the Middlesex County probation department. However, based on the circumstances and the degree of the offense, probation denied them and recommended they not be accepted into the program. But we were not willing to just give up on the prospect of PTI. So we took a tough stance with the prosecutor’s office and challenged the basis for the second degree charges based on the fact that the minor was a willing participant and actively solicited our client to commit the burglary. We were also able to challenge the reliability of the co-defendant’s statement by poking multiple holes in his statement. Based on the these weaknesses and evidentiary issues the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the second degree charge for using a minor to commit a crime and accept our client into PTI over probation’s objection. By gaining acceptance into PTI, our client not only avoided incarceration but will also have his charges completely dismissed upon successful completion.
State v. A.B. decided October 12, 2017