Prosecutorial Comments to Grand Jury and Prejudice
- June 9, 2013
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In the case of drug-induced death and distribution charges, the prosecutor’s comments to the grand jury resulted in dismissal of the indictment against the defendant. Police responded to a report of an unconscious male and found paraphernalia at the scene. The man died in the hospital the next day from the drug overdose and police charged defendant who was alleged to have provided the heroin. After presentation of evidence by the prosecutor, the grand jury returned a 2 count indictment of 3rd degree distribution of a controlled dangerous substance (CDS) in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(a)(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5(b)(3) and 1st degree drug-induced death in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-9. On its own, in State v. Eckel, the court raised issue with comments of the prosecutor to the grand jury prior to the grand jury made its decision to indict the defendant. Because the comments precluded the “return” of the indictment, State v. Rhodes required that the Court decide whether the comments could influence the decision of the grand jury, thereby infringing on its decision making function as proscribed by the Court in State v. Hart. By advising the jury of the defendant’s criminal history, commenting on evidence proffered, opining regarding questions of fact and commenting directly on the defendant’s guilt the prosecutor acted inappropriately requiring dismissal of the indictment. If you are facing drug related or other criminal charges in NJ, it is the prosecution’s burden to prove the case against you. In order to make sure your rights to a fair trial are protected, you should immediately obtain an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights. For more information on protecting your rights if charged with theft, burglary, shoplifting or other crimes in NJ visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.