Kenneth Vercammen is a Middlesex County trial attorney who has published 130 articles in national and New Jersey publications on Criminal Law and litigation topics. Appointments can be scheduled at 732-572-0500. He is author of the ABA's book "Criminal Law Forms".
2053 Woodbridge Avenue - Edison, NJ 08817

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Chain of custody

Chain of custody

"The requirement of authentication or identification as a condition precedent to admissibility is satisfied by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter is what its proponent claims." N.J.R.E. 901. "A party introducing tangible evidence has the burden of laying a proper foundation for its admission." State v. Brunson, 132 N.J. 377, 393 (1993). This foundation should include a showing of an uninterrupted chain of custody. Ibid. (citing State v. Brown, 99 N.J. Super. 22, 27, (App. Div.), certif. denied, 51 N.J. 468 (1968)). The determination of whether the State sufficiently established the chain of custody is within the discretion of the trial court. Brown, supra, 99 N.J. Super. at 27. Generally, evidence will be admitted if the court finds "in reasonable probability that the evidence has not been changed in important respects or is in substantially the same condition as when the crime was committed." Id. at 28 (citations omitted). "[A] defect in the chain of custody goes to the weight, not the admissibility, of the evidence introduced." State v. Morton, 155 N.J. 383, 446 (1998).

Friday, January 21, 2011

Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI)?

What is the Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI)?

Edited by Kenneth Vercammen, Esq., from the NJ Judiciary information sheet.

The Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI) provides defendants, generally first-time offenders, with opportunities for alternatives to the traditional criminal justice process of ordinary prosecution. PTI seeks to render early rehabilitative services, when such services can reasonably be expected to deter future criminal behavior. The PTI program is based on a rehabilitative model that recognizes that there may be an apparent causal connection between the offense charged and the rehabilitative needs of a defendant. Further, the rehabilitative model emphasizes that social, cultural, and economic conditions often result in a defendant’s decision to commit crime.

Simply stated, PTI strives to solve personal problems which tend to result from the conditions that appear to cause crime, and ultimately, to deter future criminal behavior by a defendant. Source: PTI Program Summary & Application.

What Are the Benefits of the Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI)?

If PTI is successfully completed, there is no record of conviction and the defendant avoids the stigma of a criminal conviction. Although no record of a conviction exists, a defendant may want to file for an expungement to remove any record of the original arrest.

Early intervention allows rehabilitative services to be provided soon after the alleged offense, in an attempt to correct the behavior that led to the offense.

Some of the costs associated with the formal court process are eliminated through acceptance into PTI.

PTI provides early resolution of a case, which serves the interests of the victim, the public and the defendant.

PTI reduces the burden on the court and allows resources to be devoted to more serious criminals. Source: PTI Program Summary & Application

What are the Conditions for Participation in Pretrial Intervention?

Supervision under the PTI program may run from 12 months to three years and is provided by the Probation Division. Certain standard conditions are imposed on those accepted into PTI, such as, random urine monitoring, and assessments of fees, penalties and fines. Additional conditions may also be imposed to require the performance of community service, payment of restitution, and submission to psychological and/or drug and alcohol evaluations with compliance to recommended treatment programs.

If a defendant successfully completes all the conditions of PTI, then the original charges are dismissed on the recommendation of the Criminal Division Manager with consent by the prosecutor, and there is no record of conviction.

If a defendant does not successfully complete the conditions of PTI, then the defendant is terminated from the PTI program and the case is returned to the ordinary course of prosecution.

Who is Eligible for Pretrial Intervention (PTI)?

Any defendant who is charged with an indictable offense may apply.

Admission guidelines stated in the Court Rules set the following criteria:

Age - PTI is designed for adults.

Jurisdiction - Only defendants charged with indictable offenses in New Jersey may apply.

Minor Violations - Charges that would likely result in a suspended sentence without probation or a fine are generally not eligible. Those charged with ordinance, health code and other similar violations are not eligible.

Prior Record of Convictions - PTI generally excludes defendants who have been previously convicted.

Parolees and Probationers - Generally excluded without prosecutor’s consent and considered only after consultation with parole and probation departments.

Defendants Previously Diverted - Excludes defendants who have previously been granted a diversionary program or conditional discharge.

How Does One Apply for Pretrial Intervention?

Applications to PTI must be made no later than 28 days after indictment. There is a $75 non-refundable application fee. In certain instances, this fee may be waived.

The application process includes an interview with the defendant by a staff member of the Criminal Division of the Superior Court. A written report is prepared detailing the decision for admittance or rejection into the PTI program. When a defendant is accepted into PTI on the recommendation of the Criminal Division, with the consent of the prosecutor and the defendant, the judge may postpone all further proceedings against the defendant for a period not to exceed 36 months.

The applicant may appeal a rejection to the Presiding Judge of the Criminal Division within 10 days of the rejection.

For representation contact:



2053 Woodbridge Ave.

Edison, NJ 08817

(Phone) 732-572-0500

(Fax) 732-572-0030


Monday, January 3, 2011

2C:34-1b 1 Prostitution and Related Offenses

2C:34-1b 1 Prostitution and Related Offenses

b.A person commits an offense if:

(1)The actor engages in prostitution;

(2)The actor promotes prostitution;

(3)The actor knowingly promotes prostitution of a child under 18 whether or not the actor mistakenly believed that the child was 18 years of age or older, even if such mistaken belief was reasonable;

(4)The actor knowingly promotes prostitution of the actor's child, ward, or any other person for whose care the actor is responsible;

(5)The actor compels another to engage in or promote prostitution;

(6)The actor promotes prostitution of the actor's spouse; or

(7)The actor knowingly engages in prostitution with a person under the age of 18, or if the actor enters into or remains in a house of prostitution for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with a child under the age of 18, or if the actor solicits or requests a child under the age of 18 to engage in sexual activity. It shall be no defense to a prosecution under this paragraph that the actor mistakenly believed that the child was 18 years of age or older, even if such mistaken belief was reasonable.

c.Grading of offenses under subsection b.

(1)An offense under subsection b. constitutes a crime of the second degree if the offense falls within paragraph (3) or (4) of that subsection.

(2)An offense under subsection b. constitutes a crime of the third degree if the offense falls within paragraph (5), (6) or (7) of that subsection.

(3)An offense under paragraph (2) of subsection b. constitutes a crime of the third degree if the conduct falls within subparagraph (a), (b), or (c) of paragraph (4) of subsection a. Otherwise the offense is a crime of the fourth degree.

(4)An offense under subsection b. constitutes a disorderly persons offense if the offense falls within paragraph (1) of that subsection except that a second or subsequent conviction for such an offense constitutes a crime of the fourth degree. In addition, where a motor vehicle was used in the commission of any offense under paragraph (1) of subsection b. the court shall suspend for six months the driving privilege of any such offender who has a valid driver's license issued by this State. Upon conviction, the court shall immediately collect the offender's driver's license and shall forward it, along with a report stating the first and last day of the suspension imposed pursuant to this paragraph, to the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.

d.Presumption from living off prostitutes. A person, other than the prostitute or the prostitute's minor child or other legal dependent incapable of self-support, who is supported in whole or substantial part by the proceeds of prostitution is presumed to be knowingly promoting prostitution.

e.It is an affirmative defense to prosecution for a violation of this section that, during the time of the alleged commission of the offense, the defendant was a victim of human trafficking pursuant to section 1 of P.L.2005, c.77 (C.2C:13-8).

L.1978, c.95; amended 1991, c.211; 1997, c.93, s.1; 1999, c.9; 2005, c.77, s.2.