Yesterday’s Appellate Division decision in State v. Cannarella reveals a loophole in the assault statute. Normally, simple assault constitutes a disorderly persons offense. However, in certain instances, the professional status of the victim will raise the level of the offense to a third or fourth degree crime.
In Cannarella, the defendant perpetrated a simple assault upon a teacher. Under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(5)(d), a simple assault on a teacher constitutes a crime of the third degree. The defendant sought to dismiss his indictment on the grounds that the teacher in this case was not a public employee, but rather taught at a private school. After a denial of his motion at the trial level, the defendant entered a conditional plea.
The Appellate Division reversed and ruled that the upgrade of simple assault upon a teacher under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(5)(d) was intended by the Legislature to apply only to public school teachers and not those employed by private institutions. The net result of this opinion is that public school teacher receive a greater degree of protection from assaultive conduct by students, parents and others than private school teachers.
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State v. Clarksburg Inn involves a challenge to the constitutionality of a local noise ordinance. The case is important in that it provides a comprehensive review of all the case law in New Jersey related to this issue and describes how and why the noise limitations under the ordinance at issue in the case were not vague, overbroad, subjectively applied or otherwise invalid.
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This morning’s Appellate Division decision in State v. Ebert contains a discussion of several important legal issues. The facts involve a woman who called the police to the parking lot of a bar when she became convinced that her car had been stolen. Within a few minutes the police found her car parked in the bar’s lot. She was obviously intoxicated and after some questioning by the police, she admitted to driving to the bar.
Among the key issues are the proofs necessary to prove operation of a motor vehicle under N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(a), Miranda issues related to her pre-arrest questioning and under what circumstances a court may draw an adverse inference against a defendant who does not produce evidence.
Perhaps most surprising part of this decision is the Court’s affirmance of the defendant’s municipal court conviction for reckless driving, not based upon any observed crazy operation of her motor vehicle, but rather upon circumstantial proof of operation of her motor vehicle on a busy roadway with a high blood alcohol concentration.
Download a copy of State v. Ebert