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State v. Elsanhoury

July 17, 2009

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
MOHAB ELSANHOURY, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Hudson County, Docket No. FO-09-325-08 and FO-09-383-08.

Per curiam.

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted April 22, 2009

Before Judges Payne and Waugh.

Defendant Mohab Elsanhoury appeals his conviction for criminal contempt for violating a domestic violence restraining order, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-9(b), and for harassment, N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4. The harassment count was merged into the contempt count at the time of sentencing. We affirm.

I.

We glean the following facts from the record. On February 6, 2008, the Chancery Division, Family Part entered a final restraining order (FRO) pursuant to the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:25-17 to -35. The FRO prohibited Elsanhoury from having contact with Deborah Milian and from going to her residence. Prior to the entry of the FRO, Elsanhoury and Milian had dated for approximately four years. They have one daughter who was age three-and-one-half at the time of trial. It appears that the parties have had a contentious and litigious relationship concerning their daughter.

Milian filed two separate criminal complaints against Elsanhoury for violating the FRO. Each complaint charged Elsanhoury with contempt for violating the FRO and with harassment. The first complaint was filed on February 15, 2008, and was premised on Milian's allegation that Elsanhoury contacted the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) and made a false allegation of abuse of their daughter against her. The second complaint was filed on March 10, 2008, and was premised on Milian's allegation that Elsanhoury went to her home, rang the bell, and banged on the front door.

Both complaints were tried before Judge Salvatore Bovino in the Family Part on April 29, 2008. After presentation of the State's case, Judge Bovino dismissed the charge related to the call to DYFS. Consequently, we need not set forth the testimony concerning that allegation.

Concerning the second charge, Milian testified that on March 10, 2008, she returned home at approximately nine or ten p.m. About ten minutes later, the doorbell rang. She looked out the window and saw Elsanhoury standing at the front door, looking up, ringing the doorbell, and banging on the door. She then saw him get into a white van, which she had never previously seen, and leave. At the conclusion of her direct examination, she admitted that she had a criminal conviction in New York.

On cross-examination, Milian testified that she worked as a legal secretary. After the alleged incident, she spoke to her mother and then her lawyer, prior to contacting the police. She explained that both the doorbell and the front door were on the first floor, whereas she lived on the second floor. She testified that her landlord lived on the first floor. She asked the landlord on the following day about the banging on the door, but the landlord said that she had heard nothing. Milian also testified that before she left for the police station, she had to dress her daughter. However, she later admitted that the child was already dressed, having been put to bed with her clothes on.

Elsanhoury testified that he had been in court at least fifteen times with respect to Milian and their child. He testified that he had no knowledge of Milian's address. Although his attorney had requested information about where his daughter was living, they never received that information.

Elsanhoury stated that he was not at Milian's home on March 10, 2008. He also testified that he did not own a white van, nor did he have any friends who own such a van. He testified that, at the time of the alleged incident, he was at home in Belleville.

After the trial was completed, Judge Bovino found Elsanhoury guilty on both counts of the second complaint. The harassment charge was merged into the contempt charge. Elsanhoury was given a non-custodial sentence, and ...


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