William Reid, Emma Newby and Violet McGuire were separately indicted by the Essex County Grand Jury for selling "certain alcoholic beverages * * * without having first obtained a license for that purpose from the Municipal Board of Alcoholic Beverage Control of the City of Orange," contrary to R.S. 33:1-50.
Defendants' motions to dismiss these indictments present the question of the legal sufficiency of their pleas of double
jeopardy. These pleas are the result of convictions of the three above named defendants in the Municipal Court of the City of Orange for selling alcoholic beverages without a license, in violation of section 16 of a city ordinance regulating the sale and distribution of such beverages.
It is the contention of defendants that by reason of their having been convicted of the offense for which they now stand indicted, in the municipal court on the self-same facts and circumstances, the present indictments place them in second jeopardy.
Their pleas of double jeopardy rest, of course, upon Art. I, par. 11 of the New Jersey Constitution (1947) and the somewhat broader common law doctrine that no one may be twice put in jeopardy for the same offense.
Reliance is placed by defendants, in support of their motions, upon the case of State v. Labato , 7 N.J. 137 (1951). In the Labato case defendant was convicted in the police court for a violation of the Disorderly Persons Act, R.S. 2:202-16, for possession of number slips pertaining to a lottery. Thereafter he was indicted under the Crimes Act, R.S. 2:147-3, for possession of these self-same number slips. The County Court held that defendant's prior conviction for violation of the Disorderly Persons Act upon complaint filed in the police court, based upon the identical facts, constituted prior jeopardy and dismissed the indictment. On appeal, the Supreme Court affirmed.
It should be observed that in the Labato case the same authority, namely, the State, sought to punish twice for the same unlawful act of possession of number slips -- once through the Disorderly Persons Act and again through the Crimes Act. That the holding of the court was confined to the impropriety of such action is underscored by the following statement of the court, at page 145:
"'The same act may not be twice punished by the same sovereignty, merely because it violates two laws.' * * * It is not necessarily a second jeopardy for the same act that brings the maxim into operation, but rather a second jeopardy for the same offense."
"This statute and the Crimes Act deal merely with different degrees of the same offense. The unlawful possession cannot be split into two separate and ...