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Denying Defendant Access To Witnesses Results In Reversal of Robbery Conviction

Denying Defendant Access To Witnesses Results In Reversal of Robbery Conviction

In 2007, a convenience store robbery took place in which a man showed the cashier a gun hidden in his hooded sweatshirt and demanded the money from the register. The cashier identified a photograph of Daniel Blazas from a photo array shown to him by police the following day at the Sayreville police station. Defendant’s ex-fiancee, Jennifer McHugh, provided police with a statement a couple of days after the robbery saying she received a call from defendant indicating he had robbed the “Indian store.” Defendant was charged with first-degree armed robbery (N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1); 3rd degree unlawful possession of a weapon (N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b)); 2nd degree possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes (N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a)); 4th degree aggravated assault (N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b)(4)); and 3rd degree theft (N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3). Defendant filed, among other motions, a motion to dismiss the indictment based on bias based on the misconduct of the prosecution in preventing the defense from speaking with Ms. McHugh directly or Sayreville police officers. After certain denials on the part of the prosecution, the trial judge denied defendant’s motion. On the appeal of State v. Blazas, the court held that a defendant’s right to due process is violated when the government substantially interferes with defendant’s ability to present a complete defense. The Constitution guarantees criminal defendants the right to a complete defense which includes access to evidence the prosecution has whether said evidence is negative or favorable according to the Court in State v. Garron, 827 A.2d 243 (2003). In Blazas, the denial of access to witnesses by the prosecution was held to be conduct in violation of defendant’s due process rights and requiring reversal of the defendant’s conviction. If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime and believe a critical issue in the case will be witness testimony, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to ensure your rights are protected. A criminal record can have substantial impact in both the short and long term. In the short term, you may be facing prison, jail, drug court, rehabilitation or probation and in the long term you may face inability to obtain employment, denial of educational opportunities, loss of professional licenses, discrimination, registration as a sex offender or other embarrassing and limiting consequences. For more information regarding robbery, burglary, weapons offenses, assault, drug charges or other criminal law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney.

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