When a criminal charge has been brought against someone, people tend to assume from the outset that the accused person is guilty, especially if he or she has a prior conviction.

However, a foundational aspect of the criminal justice system is that accused individuals, whether they have past convictions or not, must be presumed innocent unless the prosecution proves guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This presumption of innocence affords every person accused of a crime the right to challenge the allegation.

A former New Jersey police officer will have to confront theft-related charges for the second time after being fired from his job as a city recreation director. The man used to work as a police officer in Passaic, but he resigned from his job after he pleaded guilty to theft and official misconduct. After appointing him as director of the local recreation department, the Passaic mayor said the man deserved a second change, and for nine years he worked as the recreation director.

In March, however, the man lost his position amid allegations that he demanded unauthorized fees from parents of recreation league participants. The county prosecutor claims the demands started in 2004. A news article doesn’t say exactly why the prosecutor’s office decided to investigate the finances of the recreation department.

In all, the former director is charged with theft, official misconduct and extortion. The amount he is accused of unlawfully taking was not detailed in an Aug. 1 report.

If you would like to learn more about defending against theft charges, then please visit our criminal defense website.

Source: NorthJersey.com, “Fired Passaic rec director charged with theft, extortion,” Stefanie Dazio, Aug. 1, 2014