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New Jersey Appeals Court Reverses Conviction B/C Defendant Lacked Intent


by in Criminal Defense

In this NJ criminal case recently decided on appeal, the Appellate Division held that a defendant cannot be found guilty as an accomplice unless he or she shared the intent to commit each charged offense. If you have lost in any Municipal, Criminal, or Civil court in New Jersey, contact a former Appellate Division Judiciary Attorney for an evaluation of your case.

State v. Whitaker, ? N.J. ?, 983 A.2d 181 (2009) – Reversal of convictions for felony murder, robbery, and weapons possession affirmed. “Under the Code, accomplice liability requires that a defendant act ‘[w]ith the purpose of promoting or facilitating the commission of the offense.’ N.J.S.A. 2C:2-6(c)(1). Defendant could not be found guilty of robbery and felony murder unless he shared Davis’s intent to commit a theft before or at the time that Davis shot the victim.

[T]he prosecutor improperly advised the jury that it could convict defendant of robbery and felony murder solely on the ground that he aided Davis in his escape, even if he did not participate or assist in any way in the attempted robbery….

[I]n this case, after Davis fatally shot Hernandez, the first-degree robbery had occurred. Unless defendant intended to promote or facilitate the theft committed by Davis before or at the time of its occurrence, defendant is not a culpable party to the robbery…. [D]efendant cannot be held liable as an accomplice to a robbery solely based on his conduct after Davis had already robbed and fatally wounded the victim….

[I]f defendant lacked the specific intent to commit the theft but instead intended only to assist in hindering Davis’s apprehension, defendant would be guilty only of the crime of hindering.” (Kevin G. Byrnes, Designated Counsel)






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