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Attempted Murder and Aggravated Assault in Monmouth County Jail Consecutive Sentencing in New Jersey

Wall New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorneys serving Monmouth County, Ocean County, Middlesex County and all surrounding NJ areas.

Posted: August 26, 2009

A Monmouth County New Jersey defendant has recently been charged with attempted murder, two counts of aggravated assault, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, unlawful possession of a weapon and making terroristic threats in connection with an attack on three corrections officers in the Monmouth County Jail on Monday August 24, 2009, according to APP.com. The defendant, incarcerated on an unrelated Eluding charge, allegedly stabbed the officers with a homemade shank (knife) as they entered his cell to fix a broken light. All of the Officers were treated for their injuries at Jersey Shore University Hospital in Neptune and released.

The attempted murder charge , although not always easy to prove, carries a ten to twenty year New Jersey State Prison sentence with a lengthy period of parole ineligibility (85% of the sentence). (read more about attempted murder in my 8-27-09 post). Certainly, the length of the sentence on that charge, alone, is going to have to be factored into any plea negotiations by the defendant and his attorney.

There are two added bonuses in this case, however, that the the accused and his attorney are going to have to consider during plea negotiations and discuss at length. The New Jersey sentencing statute (N.J.S.A. 2C: 44-5h. and i.) requires that the plea offer for his new jail related charges include a prison term to run consecutively to his pending charges because the defendant already had the pending charges when he allegedly committed this offense. Also, any assault by an inmate on a corrections officer requires that his prison sentence be run consecutive to the prison sentence on his pending charges (the Eluding) and to any other charge related to the jail assault.

To put this in real terms, the plea offer from the Prosecutor in this case will, in all likelihood, require that the accused’s sentence for each separate case will run consecutively. So, for example, even if he were offered the minimum 5 years on the eluding and the minimum 10 years on the attempted murder, his sentence would be 15 years. Had the above example reflected concurrent time, his plea offer would be a 10 year sentence because the 5 years on the Eluding would run at the same time (concurrent) as the 10 years for the attempted murder.

I do not mean to bore anyone with excessive details, or the obvious benefit concurrent time has to consecutive time, but the type of sentence a defendant is facing must always be factored into plea negotiations.

I have had numerous conversations with my client’s where they have had no idea that a particular charge could be run consecutively. A defense attorney can often negotiate concurrent time prior to trial despite an initial offer of a consecutive sentence.

Of course, we all know that many client’s are not guilty and should, regardless of potential consequences, exercise their right to a trial. An injustice, however, occurs when his attorney fails to let him make the decision and neglects to inform him of his potential consequences prior to the plea cut-off date.

Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC is an exclusive criminal law firm consisting of former prosecutors and a New Jersey Supreme Court certified criminal trial attorney. For a free consultation related to any State or Federal criminal matter call Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC today at 732-303-7857.

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