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State v. Morton

July 2, 1996

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
HENRY JUNIOR MORTON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Camden County.

Approved for Publication July 2, 1996.

Before Judges Michels and King. The opinion of the court was delivered by Michels, P.j.a.d.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michels

The opinion of the court was delivered by MICHELS, P.J.A.D.

Defendant Henry Junior Morton appeals from a conviction for aggravated assault, a crime of the second degree, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(1), following a jury trial. The trial court committed defendant to the custody of the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections for nine years and assessed a $50 Violent Crimes Compensation Board penalty.

This matter arises as a result of defendant beating his girlfriend, A.M. A.M. filed a domestic violence complaint against defendant, alleging that defendant caused serious personal injuries when he physically beat and kicked her. Following an evidential hearing before the Chancery Division, Family Part, the trial court found that defendant committed acts of domestic violence against A.M. and ordered him to pay A.M. $21,561 for the medical costs incurred and $250,000 as compensation for her pain and suffering. Thereafter, defendant was indicted by the Camden County Grand Jury and charged with second degree aggravated assault in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1b(1). Defendant was tried to a jury and convicted of second degree aggravated assault. Following the imposition of sentence, defendant appealed.

Defendant seeks a reversal of his conviction, or, alternatively, a modification of his sentence on the following grounds set forth in his brief:

POINT I TWO HUNDRED FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLAR FINE IMPOSED ON DEFENDANT IN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROCEEDING WHICH WAS PUNITIVE IN NATURE BARRED SUBSEQUENT CRIMINAL TRIAL AS CONTRARY TO DOUBLE JEOPARDY CLAUSE OF THE U.S. CONST., AMEND V, NEW JERSEY CONSTITUTION, ART. 1, PARA. 11, AND N.J.S.A. 2C:1-8.

(A)

LEGISLATIVE DECLARATION MARKING N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 et.seq. (DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACT) AS CIVIL PROCEDURE MUST BOW TO OBJECTIVE DETERMINATION THAT THE FINE IMPOSED WAS PUNITIVE.

POINT II SENTENCE IMPOSED BY THE COURT WAS EXCESSIVE AND CONTRARY TO N.J.S.A. 2C:44-1 et.seq.

We have carefully considered these contentions and all supporting arguments advanced by defendant and find that they are without merit and warrant only the following Discussion in a written opinion. R. 2:11-3(e)(2).

I.

We emphasize that the Double Jeopardy Clause contained in the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution does not preclude defendant's criminal prosecution and conviction even though a $250,000 judgment had previously been entered against him in a proceeding under the Domestic Violence Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 et. seq., arising out of the same incident that gave rise to the indictment. The Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment provides that no person "shall be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life and limb." This clause is designed to protect against three types of abuses: a second prosecution for the same offense after the defendant has been acquitted, a second prosecution for the same offense after the defendant has been convicted, and multiple punishments for the same offense. United States v. Halper, 490 U.S. 435, 440, 109 S. Ct. 1892, 1900, 104 L. Ed. 2d 487, 496 (1989); North Carolina v. Pearce, 395 U.S. 711, 717, 89 S. Ct. 2072, 2076, 23 L. Ed. 2d 656, 664-65 (1969); Ayars v. New Jersey Dep't ...


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