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Sex Offender’s Confession Inadmissible

Sex Offender’s Confession Inadmissible

Bergen County Superior Court Judge Patrick Roma oversaw a trial in which R.P. was convicted on four counts of 2nd degree sexual assault by sexual penetration of a blood relative between the ages of 16 and 18 (N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2(a)), one count of 4th degree criminal sexual contact (N.J.S.A. 2C:14-3) and one count of 2nd degree endangering the welfare of a child (N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4) for allegedly having sexual contact with R.P.’s own 17 year old daughter, “Jane”. R.P. was sentenced to consecutive 8 year terms on two of the counts, with the remaining sentences to be served concurrently. R.P.’s wife, “Vera”, was suspicious that R.P. and “Jane” were having a sexual relationship and placed a recording device in the master bedroom of their home and later found a recording of a “very explicit sexual interaction” in which, upon reporting, she verified the voices of “Jane” and R.P. “Jane” advised officers, during her interview, that she and her father were sexually involved and that she participated due to privileges he would afford her including use of a car, later curfew and permission to date. “Vera” later recanted her testimony indicting she was under substantial stress at the time she made the tape and identified the voices and later realized the voices were those of her cousins who had been visiting the residence at the time of the recording. R.P. initially denied the allegations and later confessed in a video and audio interview by police to a consensual sexual relationship indicating they never had intercourse. R.P. challenged the conviction based on the voluntariness of the confession in which one officer was yelling at him and, due to lack of understanding, made statements to protect his daughter. R.P. claimed “Jane” provided false testimony based on R.P. having disciplined her and he also stated the voices on the wife’s tape were those of the wife’s cousins. The Appellate Division found no impropriety in the two consecutive sentences based on the need to deter such activity. However, in regard to the confessions, they held that, in spite of defense counsel’s failure to object to the confession upon the prosecution’s entry of the statement into evidence but then calling for a mistrial the following day, it was plain error for the trial judge not to conduct a hearing under NJ Rule of Evidence 104 to determine the voluntariness of the confession. Rule 104 addresses the reliability of statements given during confession in an effort to ensure confessions are given only voluntarily, without duress, compulsion or coercion. Rule 104 also deems confessions under such circumstances are unreliable. The Appellate Division reversed for a new trial requiring the state to prove voluntariness of the confession beyond a reasonable doubt. If you have been charged with a sex crime you face severe consequences including prison, societal scorn and inclusion on the sex offender registry and possible involuntary civil commitment. It is critical you obtain experienced defense counsel to immediately begin to review the prosecution’s evidence, speak with witnesses, explore alibis you may have and build a defense. For more information about sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, endangering the welfare of a minor and other sex crimes visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of an attorney.

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