July 31, 2018
appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division,
Middlesex County, Indictment Nos. 14-02-0224 and 14-02-0234.
A. Hulett, Assistant Prosecutor, argued the cause for
appellant (Andrew C. Carey, Middlesex County Prosecutor,
attorney; Nancy A. Hulett, of counsel and on the briefs).
T. Blum, Assistant Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause
for respondent (Joseph E. Krakora, Public Defender, attorney;
Peter T. Blum, of counsel and on the brief).
Judges Sabatino, Mayer and Mawla.
State appeals the trial court's dismissal of two
Middlesex County indictments charging defendant Hassan A.
Reid with committing an armed robbery in Perth Amboy,
conspiracy, and firearms possessory offenses. The court
dismissed those charges because defendant had already pled
guilty and been convicted in Monmouth County to having
illegally possessed firearms in Asbury Park, weapons that
were confiscated after the robbery in Perth Amboy occurred.
particular, the victim of the robbery identified defendant as
having brandished a silver or gray handgun. Another witness
to the robbery told police that she saw defendant wearing a
shoulder holster at some unspecified point in time. Five days
after the robbery, police officers executed a warrant for
defendant's arrest issued by a judge in Middlesex County.
The officers found defendant in a home in Monmouth County,
along with two guns, one of which was silver or gray in
color, and a shoulder holster.
trial court reasoned that the Monmouth County and Middlesex
County charges were sufficiently related to require them to
be pursued in a single coordinated prosecution. Consequently,
the court ruled the State's failure to combine the
charges before the entry of the judgment of conviction in
Monmouth barred his later prosecution in Middlesex.
issues before us concern principles of mandatory joinder,
double jeopardy, and continuing offenses. Applying those
principles, we partially affirm the trial court's
dismissal order with modification, reverse the order in part,
and remand the matter for trial on certain counts of the
indictments in Middlesex County. More specifically, and
subject to certain caveats detailed in this opinion, the
Middlesex prosecution on the armed robbery and
conspiracy-to-rob counts is reinstated, but the weapons
possession counts remain dismissed.
the proofs have not been developed or tested at a jury trial,
the existing record reveals the following factual contentions
and relevant procedural history.
Armed Robbery in Perth Amboy
30, 2013, H.B. was walking to a friend's house
located on Convery Boulevard in Perth Amboy (Middlesex
County). According to H.B., as he approached the house, a
"grayish" Honda Civic pulled up and blocked his
path. The front seat passenger got out of the Honda and asked
H.B. if he lived at the location. H.B. responded in the
affirmative, even though he did not actually reside there.
testimony at a pretrial hearing in Middlesex County, H.B.
described the front seat passenger as a light-skinned
African-American man with a beard, who was wearing a red
hoodie and khaki pants. H.B. testified that the front seat
passenger then "reached under his hoodie and pulled a
and cocked it and said, you know - you know what this
is." H.B. identified defendant as the front seat
passenger who had initially brandished a gun.
recounted that another man then hopped out of the back
passenger side of the Honda. The second man "put another
gun in [H.B.'s] face and told [him] to get on the
car." H.B. described the back seat passenger as wearing
a polo shirt with stripes and a baseball cap pulled down low.
Because this second assailant had positioned himself behind
H.B., H.B. could not get a good look at the man's face.
The second man then went through H.B.'s pockets and took
$20 in cash as well as H.B.'s car keys. According to
H.B., while he was pushed up against the car, he noticed a
third person - a woman - sitting in the driver's seat.
testified that after he was robbed, the first assailant,
identified as defendant, told him to run, and motioned with
his gun towards a nearby gas station. After running to the
gas station, H.B. tried without success to persuade the
attendant to allow him to use the attendant's phone.
point, H.B. looked to see if the Honda was gone. He did not
see the vehicle, so he returned to his friend's house.
When he returned to the house, H.B. saw that his friend, his
friend's girlfriend, and the friend's upstairs
neighbor, Lisa Reid, were outside. He told them he had just
to H.B., after he described the robbery, Reid repeatedly said
words to the effect that she could not believe defendant
would do such a thing in front of her home. H.B. told Reid
that if she could get his car keys back for him, he would not
call the police. On the other hand, H.B. told her that if he
did not get the keys, he would call the police.
Reid tried to call defendant on
her cell phone, but she was unable to reach him. After
waiting approximately twenty minutes, H.B. called the police.
Police officers then arrived at the scene.
was interviewed there by Officer Jose Santiago of the Perth
Amboy Police Department. He told Santiago he had been robbed
by two suspects brandishing guns and that a third suspect was
a female driver.
Santiago then spoke to Reid, who identified herself as
defendant's aunt. According to Santiago, Reid told him
she had witnessed the robbery and that her nephew was one of
the robbers. Reid also reportedly told Santiago that she had
seen defendant wearing a shoulder holster at some point in
time. Santiago testified that he observed Reid attempt to
call defendant. He recalled Reid left a voicemail for
defendant effectively saying, "bring that stuff back . .
defendant was a possible suspect, Officer Santiago retrieved
a prior booking photo of defendant on the computer in his
patrol car. Santiago asked H.B. to look at the photo. H.B.
identified defendant from the photo as the first assailant
wearing the red hoodie. According to Santiago, H.B. stated
that he had seen defendant in the area of the house on
Convery Boulevard before the robbery, although H.B. did not
know defendant's name. At the later pretrial hearing,
H.B. estimated that he had seen defendant approximately five
times previously in a five-month period.
Investigation and Arrest Warrant
2, 2013, H.B. went to Perth Amboy police headquarters to view
a photo array containing the images of six African-American
men, including the booking photo of defendant that Santiago
had shown to H.B. on the night of the robbery. H.B. picked
out the photo of defendant as the robber. He later testified
at the pretrial hearing that he was "a hundred
percent" sure he had correctly picked out the man who
had robbed him. H.B. was unable to identify the other two
people involved in the robbery.
result of these events, a judge in Middlesex County issued a
warrant for defendant's arrest on the robbery.
Arrest and The Premises Search in Asbury Park
3, 2013, Perth Amboy police distributed a "Be On the
Look Out" ("BOLO") bulletin, alerting law
enforcement that defendant was reported to be a member of a
gang and had been linked to a robbery involving a
semiautomatic handgun. A police officer in Monmouth County
noticed the BOLO bulletin, and discovered that defendant had
a recorded address on 6th Avenue in Asbury Park.
days after the robbery, on July 5, 2013, Asbury Park police
officers went to the 6th Avenue address to see if they could
find defendant and take him into custody on the Middlesex
arrest warrant. The officers found defendant there hiding
inside a closet, and arrested him. The officers searched the
home and discovered two firearms, one of which was a silver
or gray-colored, semiautomatic .45 caliber gun, as well as a
shoulder holster and hollow-nosed bullets. They further noted
a child was present in the dwelling.
Monmouth County Indictment
October 22, 2013, a grand jury in Monmouth County returned
Indictment 13-10-1884, charging defendant with various
offenses, mainly firearms possessory crimes. Specifically,
the Monmouth indictment charged defendant with second-degree
unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b) (count
one); second-degree endangering the welfare of a child,
N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4(a) (count two); third-degree resisting
arrest, N.J.S.A. 2C:29-2(a)(3) (count three); second-degree
unlawful possession of a weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b) (count
four); third-degree receiving stolen property, N.J.S.A.
2C:20-7(a) (count five); fourth-degree possession of a
prohibited weapon, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-3(f) (count six); and two
second-degree "certain persons" not to have weapons
offenses, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-7(b)(1) (counts seven and eight).
All of these Monmouth County charges stemmed from the search
of the home in Asbury Park, where defendant had been found on
July 5, 2013.
Middlesex County Indictments
February 28, 2014, grand jurors in Middlesex County returned
Indictment No. 14-02-0224, charging defendant with:
second-degree conspiracy to commit armed robbery, N.J.S.A.
2C:5-2 and N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 (count one); first-degree armed
robbery, N.J.S.A. 2C:15-1 (count two); third-degree unlawful
possession of a "silver colored handgun" without a
permit, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5(b) (count three); and second-degree
possession of a "silver colored handgun" for an
unlawful purpose, N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4(a) (count four). On the
same day, grand jurors in Middlesex returned a related second
indictment, Indictment No. 14-02-0234, charging defendant
with second-degree certain persons not to have weapons,
of the Monmouth Charges
filed a motion in Monmouth County to suppress the guns,
shoulder holster, and bullets the police had seized from the
Asbury Park residence. A judge in Monmouth County denied that
motion in March 2014. Having lost the suppression motion,
defendant entered into plea negotiations with the Monmouth
County Prosecutor's Office.
negotiations resulted in an agreement in which defendant pled
guilty to two counts of unlawful possession of a weapon
(counts one and four), and one of the "certain
persons" charges (count seven), with the Monmouth
prosecutor agreeing to dismiss the remaining counts of the
indictment. The plea was accepted before a Monmouth County
judge on April 6, 2015. Consistent with the plea agreement,
defendant was sentenced in Monmouth County on June 5, 2015 to
an aggregate custodial term of seven years, subject to a
five-year period of parole ineligibility.