Muni-mail – Cop’s off-duty rape does not require job forfeiture – State v. Hupka

[08-03-10 – 10:19] This morning, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that a police officer who, while off duty, committed the crime of criminal sexual contact (non-consent, sleeping victim who became pregnant as a result) is not subject to mandatory loss of his public employment. Typically, forfeiture is required when a public employee is convicted of either an offense involving dishonesty or one that touches on his office. For touching on the office cases, the Justices reasoned that forfeiture is not required unless the underlying offense bears some direct relationship to the office involved. Here, this did not apply since the officer was off-duty at the time of the crime and the offense had nothing to do with his job as a police officer.

The Court also mandated that in the future, prosecutors (this would include both municipal and county) should include discussions of forfeiture and disqualification in plea negotiations with public employees. When a defendant is charged with a crime that might be regarded as involving or touching his or her public position, the State should require an allocution that either establishes the connection between the crime and the position to enable the court to sustain a subsequent forfeiture and disqualification order, or, alternatively, should negotiate a voluntary disqualification from a future position.

Download a copy of State v. Hupka.

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