On February 22, 2021, New Jersey became the 14th state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana when Governor Phil Murphy signed a group of laws that enacted the marijuana legalization ballot measure approved by more than two-thirds of New Jersey voters in November.
NY & NJ Criminal Defense Law Blog
One of the great tragedies of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the thousands of New Jersey pretrial detainees who – despite being presumed innocent and not having been convicted of any crime – are languishing in unsafe conditions in county jails while courts remain closed to jury trials. On February 11, 2021, the New Jersey Supreme Court endorsed the reopening of thousands of detention hearings by inmates detained for longer than six months, citing the “due process concerns” caused by the unexpectedly lengthy suspension of criminal trials in New Jersey.
President Biden just signed an Executive Order to phase out the federal government’s use of private prisons. For-profit, private prison systems have been found to provide less humane and less safe environments overall, in an effort to increase profits. While signing the Order, the President stated that “[t]his is the first step to stop corporations from profiting off incarceration, that is less humane and less safe, as studies show . . . [a]nd this is just the beginning of my administration’s plan to address systematic problems in our criminal justice system.”
Gurbir Grewal, the New Jersey State Attorney General, recently announced a new policy that will affect the State’s more than 38,000 police officers beginning on December 31, 2021. The change comes after two years of study into racial disparities and other issues involving the use of force in New Jersey. The new rules, which will limit the use of force, ban using police dogs on suspects who are simply resisting arrest and require departments to review every incident where force was used, are focused on protecting the “sanctity of human life.”
With Covid-19 still surging throughout the United States, telemedicine has expanded as a viable option for patients seeking to limit their exposure to doctors’ offices. To meet this need, Federal and State regulators have both implemented and increased a number of measures allowing telemedicine to reach more people, as well as cover more areas of practice.
Around the country, a number of state and federal courts have started to use virtual grand juries to indict, and virtual juries for actual trials. If you are concerned that jurors involved in virtual processes may not represent a true cross section of the population, or that virtual hearings are inherently unfair, you are not alone.
It may come as a surprise to most, including many criminal defense attorneys, that the federal system detains a greater percentage of people arrested than state systems. Since the Bail Reform Act (BRA), enacted in 1984, pretrial detention has significantly increased from 19% in 1985 to 75% in 2019, which is particularly astounding, considering violent crime accounts for only 2% of federal arrests.
Stahl Criminal Defense Lawyers has once again been recognized by US News and World Report as one of New Jersey's best White Collar Criminal Defense Firm in its 2021 edition. Stahl Criminal Defense Lawyers is once again included in the 2021 Best Lawyers® in America list. He has been included on the Best Lawyers® in America list for nine years, since the list was published in 2012.
In an extremely controversial 4-3 opinion, the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld trial and Appellate Division rulings compelling a defendant to provide his cellphone passcode pursuant to a search warrant. The defendant was an Essex County Sheriff’s Officer accused of providing a drug dealer confidential information about an investigation into the dealer and his co-conspirators. The drug dealer gave evidence establishing that the sheriff’s officer provided him information about undercover surveillance of his vehicle and phones, as well as other case related information. Law enforcement confirmed there were numerous texts and calls between the sheriff’s officer and the drug dealer. Law enforcement obtained a search warrant for the officer’s cellphones, but were unable to access them without the defendant’s passcodes or PINs.
A new, just released report shows the number of federal and state-authorized wiretaps conducted in 2019. A wiretap is a court-authorized warrant, allowing law enforcement to listen to and record conversations and/or text messages on a target’s phone. In most jurisdictions, the law enforcement agency applying for such an order must demonstrate that there is probable cause to believe that the target is engaged in a specified unlawful activity, that he uses the particular phone to conduct his illegal activity, that traditional methods of investigation have been tried or would not likely be successful, and that the wiretap is necessary to uncover the full extent of the target’s criminal activity, and/or the other coconspirators’. Such authorizations are usually limited to a 30-day period, but can be extended by a court under certain circumstances. Many individuals in the United States use encrypted messaging to protect their privacy – some for innocuous reasons, others for more illicit ones. Encryption may not, however, protect messages and conversations from being produced pursuant to a wiretap.