The state Appellate Division recently ruled that a Vineland man who faces five years in prison will receive a new trial, according to a recent article at NJ.com.
The man was convicted of heroin possession in 2015, after being arrested in May 2014 after a routine traffic stop. During the booking process, police claimed they found 21 wax folds of heroin in his sock, and that the discovery was caught on the booking room’s camera system.
The man’s defense attorneys requested preservation of all recordings related to the case only five days after the arrest occurred. However, it was later discovered that the booking room recordings had already been taped over – leaving the investigating officer’s statements about the discovery as the only evidence that it had happened.
The police station’s policy is to record over the tapes every 30 days unless an officer requests a tape be preserved. The officer in this case said that he did not request preservation of the tape, since he only does so for bookings he does not personally witness. However, the sergeant testified that other officers frequently ask for tapes to be preserved as evidence, even if they are personally in the room at the time the event is recorded.
The Appellate Division ruled that the trial court erred by not allowing the jury to consider that it was possible the video was not saved because it did not back up the claim that the defendant had heroin in his possession when he was booked. The new trial will allow a jury to consider this possibility, as well as address other evidence issues that arose in the case.
In a criminal case, the prosecution must prove every element of its case beyond a reasonable doubt and while respecting the defendant’s constitutional rights. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help ensure these rights and rules are respected – and help you fight for the best possible outcome. To learn more, contact Garber Law today by calling (856) 281-1480 for our New Jersey office, or (866) 556-2962 for our Pennsylvania office or use our online contact form to get started today.
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