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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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NJ Legislature proposes increased penalties for talking and texting while driving

Most people use hands-free devices but there is still a significant number of individuals who continue to text and talk while driving. Statistics have shown that the reaction time of these motorists is worse than those who drank alcohol at the legal limit and often causes a deadly hazard. This continued behavior has resulted in many car accidents.

On March 21, 2013 the NJ legislature voted to stiffen the penalties for violators of the cell phone law enacted in 2007 making the use of hand-held cellphones while driving a primary offense and added texting as a prohibited activity. First time offenders would now pay a fine of $200.00, while repeat offenders would pay a fine of $400.00 if convicted again within 10 years. A third and subsequent offense within 10 years would warrant a fine of $600.00 and a possible driver’s license revocation of up to 90 days.

In addition to the stiffer penalties, the bill directs the Motor Vehicle Commission to create an education campaign to alert the public to the dangers of texting and cellphone use while driving. The program will be funded by a portion of the funds collected from the fines imposed on violators.

The bill now returns to the senate for final approval. Governor Christie has not indicated at this time whether he will sign the bill into law. Hands-free cellphone devices continue to be permitted to be used under New Jersey Law.

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