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STATE v. HENDRICKS — NEW JERSEY MURDER TRIAL — "NOT GUILTY" VERDICT

Mr. Tumelty represented Helena Hendricks, who was charged with first degree murder in Atlantic County Superior Court. The defendant faced a number of additional charges, including armed robbery, conspiracy and possession of a handgun for an unlawful purpose. At the conclusion of a jury trial that lasted three weeks, the defendant was found "not guilty" of all charges.

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Alleged drunk driver strikes Atlantic City officer’s vehicle

In the early morning hours of March 7, a car struck the vehicle of an Atlantic City police officer. The car that caused the crash left the scene of the accident, but was stopped shortly afterward. The driver was arrested and charged with various offenses, including driving while intoxicated and assault by automobile.

New Jersey drunk driving charges can be serious, especially in cases in which an accident occurred and property damage or personal injury resulted. Conviction of assault by automobile in New Jersey can result in 18 months to three years in prison, while if the assault is considered “aggravated” the sentence can span five to 10 years. Further, the loss of a driver’s license may result, with the all the complications that comes with that restriction. New Jersey law has no provision for hardship licenses for people so convicted, thus loss of employment due to the inability to drive is a real possibility.

In normal DWI arrests, certain defenses can be raised with regards to the right of the police to stop the motorist in the first place. However, these defenses are less effective in cases in which an accident occurred. Defenses are still available in those instances, however. In vehicular assault cases, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver was impaired and that the driver acted recklessly. Portions of the state’s case can be challenged, from the handling of blood or breath tests, to the fact that someone else may have been responsible for the accident.

Considering the potential for serious penalties, anyone faced with a drunk driving charge in connection with an accident should explore all of the potential legal defenses that may be available. The alternative is a possible felony conviction on the arrestee’s record and the likely loss of liberty and future earning opportunity.

Source: philidelphia.cbslocal.com, “Atlantic City Police Officer Struck By Drunk Driver,” March 7, 2013

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