Sentencing In Weapons Case Must Fit The Crime
- January 10, 2014
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The defendants, Jaquan Lee and Tony Canty, collectively appealed their convictions of 1st degree armed robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1, 2nd degree possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a(1), 3rd degree unlawful possession of a shotgun without a firearms purchaser ID card, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5c(1) and N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3, 3rd degree unlawful possession of a sawed-off shotgun N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3b and 2nd degree certain persons not to possess firearms N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7 arising out of 3 separate robberies occurring on July 30, 2007 in Elizabeth putting multiple victims at risk. The defendants in State v. Lee were sentenced in the Union County Superior Court to 15 year terms for each count concurrent as to multiple victims in each incident but consecutive as to each incident resulting in aggregate 45 year terms subject to the No Early Release Act (NERA), N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2 which requires service of 85% of their sentence before eligible for parole. On appeal, collectively State v. Lee, the defendants challenge in court identifications and excessive sentences. Canty challenged a motion to suppress and Lee challenged the adequacy of the jury charge. The NJ Appellate Division affirmed the convictions but remanded for resentencing as the court did not adequately place the reasons for imposing 3 consecutive sentences on the record. In reviewing whether the sentences should be consecutive or concurrent, the Appellate Division looked to State v. Yarbough, 100 N.J. 627, 644 (1985). Yarbough sets forth factors a court may consider do make such a determination including whether (1) the crimes and objectives were predominately independent of each other; (2) the crimes involved separate acts or threats of violence; (3) whether the crimes were unified in place or time or whether they were individual acts; (4) the number of victims in each criminal act; and (5) the number of convictions for which sentences will be imposed. The Appellate Division also agreed the criminal history and rate of recidivism of the actors could be considered according to State v. Mosch, 214 N.J. Super. 457 (App. Div. 1986). If you have been accused of a crime it is imperative you obtain experienced legal counsel to begin preparing a defense, recognize and challenge violations of your rights with motions to suppress or dismiss and, if you are ultimately sentenced, challenge excessive sentences. For more information regarding weapons, drugs, robbery, assault or other serious criminal charges visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.