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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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Improper drunk driving arrests come to light

It is an unfortunate fact that, at times, those hired to protect us take advantage of their position to gain an advantage in their careers at the expense of citizens. A recent news story highlights that it is not only New Jersey drivers who need to be vigilant about circumstances around a DWI arrest.

A State Trooper has recently been accused of booking multiple drivers for drunk driving in Utah, even though in some cases, breathalyzer tests showed the individuals’ blood alcohol content was not over the legal limit. The officer had a record of almost twice as many DUI arrests as any other trooper in 2009. She was named “trooper of the year” in 2007, and her career was considered to be on the upswing.

However, it appears that the trooper had a pattern of questionable arrests in which drivers were arrested and booked for driving under the influence, despite having no physical evidence of impairing substances in their bodies. These cases generally resulted in charges being dropped. This story highlights the professional pressure that law enforcement can be under to make arrests, especially for hot-button issues such as drunk driving.

In New Jersey, the penalties for a drunk driving conviction are severe. These include suspension of one’s license, jail time (from 30 days for a first offense to 180 days for multiple offenses), fines, community service and installation of an ignition interlock system in one’s vehicle. Even in cases where the charges are dropped, arrests themselves can still cause financial and emotional damage to those falsely accused. Those charged in such cases must spend time and money to fight the charges, and jobs and security clearances can be at risk.

The story of the arrest-happy trooper also highlights the fact that fighting DWI charges in court can work. New Jersey defendants in such cases should take all possible steps to make sure their rights are protected.

Source: New Jersey Herald, “Utah trooper accused of making bogus DUI arrests,” Brady McCombs, Feb. 22, 2013

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