Acquittal Of Burglary And Arson But 6-year Sentence For CDS
- December 26, 2014
- No comments
Michael Naples was indicted for second-degree aggravated arson (N.J.S.A. 2C:17-1(a)), third-degree arson (N.J.S.A. 2C:17-1(b)(2)), third-degree burglary (N.J.S.A. 2C:18-2(a)(1)) and possession of drugs (cocaine) (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a)(1)). Following a fire, surveillance video revealed Naples riding his bicycle past a vacant building into a parking lot then showed the defendant in the lot again shortly after the fire began. Detectives had seen Naples in the past and quickly located him for questioning. During the conversation, the defendant admitted to having a crack pipe, which he provided to officers, and was also found to have a gas cap in his possession. He denied any knowledge of the fire but smelled of gasoline according to the detectives. His motion to suppress the evidence was denied and the jury acquitted Naples of arson and burglary and found him guilty only of the cocaine possession. He was sentence to a discretionary extended 6-year term in prison with a 3-year period of parole ineligibility. In State v. Naples, the NJ Appellate Court heard the defendant’s arguments against the trial court’s denial of the suppression motion and the extended sentence imposed for the minute amount of drugs. As to the suppression motion, the Appellate Division quoted State v. Pineiro, 181 N.J. 13, 21 (2004) in holding that based on the “facts available to the officer at the moment of the seizure or the search warrant[ed] a man of reasonable caution in the belief that the action taken was appropriate.” With regard to the sentence imposed, the Appellate Division found a “clear showing of abuse of discretion”, pursuant to State v. Whitaker, 79 N.J. 503, 512 (1979) on the part of the trial court. Although the prosecution moved for an extended sentence under N.J.S.A. 2C:44-3(a) applicable to persistent offenders as Naples was over 21 years old, previously convicted on at least 2 separate occasions of 2 separate crimes committed at different times after attaining the age of 18 years old and 10 years had not passed since the commission of his last release from confinement the Appellate Division held that being a persistent offender is only part of the consideration in sentencing to an extended term under State v. Dunbar, 108 N.J. 80 (1987). In Dunbar, the court held that the court must also determine whether an extended sentence is appropriate to protect the public under State v. Pierce, 188 N.J. 155, 164-65 (2006), weigh aggravating and mitigating factors and determine whether to impose a parole ineligibility period. The Appellate Division determined that the trial court failed to make the appropriate findings and gave too much weight to the controlled dangerous substance (CDS) found in Naples possession. The matter was reversed and remanded to the trial court for resentencing in light of the appropriate criteria and Naples criminal history. Drug charges often heavily sentenced and, if found guilty, you risk incarceration, loss of driver’s license and substantial fine. If you are facing drug charges, you should seek experienced criminal defense counsel immediately. For more information about burglary, drug charges, CDS, theft, robbery or other serious criminal charges in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.