On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Monmouth County, Docket No. FJ-13-1773-10.
NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION
Before Judges Graves and Waugh.
S.B. was seventeen years old when he was charged with an offense which, if committed by an adult, would constitute the petty disorderly persons offense of disorderly conduct, in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:33-2(a)(1). Following a trial, S.B. was adjudicated delinquent and sentenced to a one-year term of probation. The court also imposed fifty hours of community service and a Victims of Crimes Compensation Board assessment in the amount of thirty dollars. On appeal, S.B. argues that "the evidence was insufficient" to warrant the adjudication of delinquency. We reject this argument and affirm.
The two witnesses that testified during S.B.'s trial were both members of the Wall Township Police Department. Patrolman Michael Malone testified that he had been a police officer for seven-and-one-half years, and Patrolman Todd Czech testified that he was a member of the police department for thirteen years. S.B. did not testify or call any witnesses.
On November 15, 2009, at approximately 2:00 a.m., Officer Malone responded to a one-car accident in which S.B. was a passenger. When he arrived at the scene of the accident, Malone observed that a vehicle had struck a telephone pole and that some of the passengers had been injured. Malone described "a hectic scene":
There [were] officers that were photographing the scene, there [were] officers getting information out of the vehicle -- insurance cards and what have you. And it was . . . kind of a hectic scene because we had people that were injured on the side of the roadway. I was actually then beginning to identify the driver of the vehicle [to determine] whether that person had been drinking . . . . So, my interaction with [S.B.] was pretty brief. After I was able to leave the victims because EMS came, my main focus was the driver and then the officers were assisting me with gathering the other information, taking photographs and talking to witnesses, jotting down names and phone numbers and everything that I would need for my report. My focus was dealing with the driver -- I believe [he was S.B.'s] older brother.
Malone also indicated that S.B. was upset, crying, "agitated at what had happened" and "cursing at the circumstances." According to Malone, he told S.B. to get out of the roadway because there were "other cars that were passing and we were trying to conduct our investigation as to what happened." When asked if S.B. complied, Malone responded, "Not at first, no." In addition, Malone testified that S.B. "became more of a hindrance" as the investigation continued because "[h]e was not listening to our instructions to get out of the roadway."
Officer Czech arrived a few minutes after Officer Malone. He testified that the traffic had stopped and the "roadway was blocked" because "the vehicle was in the roadway" and "several passengers . . . were on the roadway." He also testified that he had "several interactions" with S.B.:
[S.B.] was one of the occupants in the vehicle and he was very excited at the scene, so I had several interactions with [S.B.], insomuch as trying to calm him down. We understood that he was upset, that he had been involved in an accident and friends of his were injured. There were several times when he was on the roadway and we had to ask him to move to the side so we could conduct the investigation. He was, as I said, upset, loud at times, at times he would use profanities and we just attempted to calm him because we were trying to conduct the investigation which also involved EMS [personnel] on [the] scene attending to those parties that were injured and marking out the vehicle for the accident investigation itself.
When asked whether S.B.'s behavior had "an impact on the investigation," Czech responded: "It distracted us at the time from gathering names, keeping the scene safe. So, I would say yes."
Czech also testified that while S.B. was talking to his uncle on a cell phone, Czech asked to speak to the uncle to explain what had happened and S.B. gave the phone to Czech. As Czech was speaking with S.B.'s uncle, S.B. stated that he wanted to talk to his uncle, and S.B. "grabbed" Czech's ...