New Jersey v. Miles

New Jersey joins the majority of jurisdictions in returning to the “Blockburger same-elements test” as the sole test for determining what constitutes the same offense for purposes of double jeopardy. In the interest of justice, the Court applied both the same-elements test and the now-replaced same-evidence test in this case; going forward, for offenses committed after the issuance of this opinion, the same-elements test will serve as the singular framework for determining whether two charges are the same offense for purposes of double-jeopardy analysis. A grand jury returned an indictment charging defendant Rodney Miles with several offenses. Defendant appeared pro se in municipal court to resolve a disorderly-persons offense. At some point before that proceeding, the original municipal charge was amended to a different disorderly-persons offense: loitering to possess marijuana. Defendant asked the municipal court judge about the charge; the judge responded that defendant was not going to Superior Court for loitering, but rather for an unrelated child support issue. Defendant then pled guilty to loitering to possess marijuana. Thereafter, defendant moved to dismiss the Superior Court indictment on double-jeopardy grounds, arguing that prosecution on the possession charges was barred because he had already pled guilty to an offense that arose from the same conduct. The Superior Court denied defendant’s motion to dismiss, reasoning that prosecution on the indicted charges was not barred because it required proof of an additional element (proximity to a school). Defendant pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute within 1000 feet of a school, but preserved his right to appeal the denial of the motion to dismiss. Despite defendant’s expressed confusion during the municipal court plea hearing, the Superior Court concluded that the school-zone prosecution was not precluded by notions of fundamental fairness. The Appellate Division reversed the Superior Court, barring defendant’s second prosecution as a violation of double jeopardy. The New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed. View "New Jersey v. Miles" on Justia Law