Convictions for certain types of crimes in New Jersey can have a much more negative impact on a person’s future than others. Violent crimes that carry long minimum prison terms would clearly be included in that group, as would sex crimes, which often carry a virtual lifetime sentence due to mandatory sex offender reporting requirements.

Theft crimes are a less obvious part of that group but can have equally devastating consequences in terms of employment, housing and other aspects of a convicted person’s life. Combine theft and violence (e.g., felony murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, carjacking) — the stakes grow exponentially larger and the need for a skilled and aggressive defense becomes all that more crucial.

Last week, three men accused of taking part in a deadly carjacking and abduction that started in the parking garage of Atlantic City’s Trump Taj Mahal casino last year pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, felony murder and kidnapping.

Prosecutors claim the three men approached a young man and woman who were preparing to leave the casino that morning, forced them to drive their car to an alley and then shot them both. The man died; the woman lived and later, allegedly identified one of the defendants as the man with the gun.

A decision on whether the three men will be tried separately as individuals, or together as co-defendants, is expected later this summer. However, the first (and possibly only) trial has been scheduled to start on April 8, 2013.

While we don’t know all the facts yet or how the prosecution or defense lawyers plan to proceed with the case, police line-up identifications are notoriously unreliable and have been routinely successfully challenged by skilled criminal defense lawyers. With that in mind, anyone charged with a theft offense or crime of violence on the basis of line-up identification should speak to an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

Source: Press of Atlantic City, “Three men plead not guilty in fatal Atlantic City casino carjacking,” Lynda Cohen, June 1, 2012