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Medford Township Pastor Charged with Sexual Assault of Minors

Medford NJ Sexual Assault LawyersA pastor in Medford Township, New Jersey has been charged with multiple sex crimes for allegedly sexually assaulting minors for over the course of 16 years.

According to officials from the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, 74-year-old Medford resident Harry L. Thomas has been charged with sexual assaultaggravated sexual assault, and endangering the welfare of a child. These charges came in connection with alleged sexual assaults of four separate victims while they were underage. The sexual abuse reportedly occurred between 1999 and 2015.

Thomas is a pastor at the local Come Alive Church in Medford. Following his arrest on Wednesday, he was transferred to a medical facility where he is receiving treatment under law enforcement supervision. Eventually, he will be required to make his first appearance in Burlington County Superior Court in Mount Holly. He is now exposed to severe consequences in connection with the sex crime allegations.

Aggravated sexual assault is the most serious charge Thomas is facing, as it is considered a first degree crime under New Jersey law. Charges for aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault are governed by the same statute, N.J.S.A. 2C:14-2. The circumstances of a given case dictate whether a person is charged with the first degree crime of aggravated sexual assault or the second degree crime of sexual assault. In this case because there are multiple victims, the different charges are likely in connection with separate incidents.

First degree aggravated sexual assault entails a maximum prison term of 20 years, while second degree sexual assault is punishable by up to 10 years of incarceration. Both types of sexual assault crimes require those convicted to register as sex offenders under New Jersey’s Megan’s Law. Not only that, a person convicted of sexual assault must serve 85 percent of their sentence before coming up for parole eligibility.

Medford NJ Sexual Assault Lawyers

If you are accused of, or under investigation for sexual assault, anything you say can and will be used against you. With this is mind, it is important to have an experienced attorney representing you as early on in the process as possible. Do not jeopardize the rest of your life. Contact the Law Offices of Leonard Biddison today at 856-427-6888 to speak with a skilled New Jersey sex crimes defense lawyer. Mr. Biddison has been defending clients charged with sexual assault and other criminal offenses for over 20 years. He is renowned for his work defending clients throughout Burlington and Camden County, NJ. Contact us online or by phone for a free consultation about your case.

For additional information related to this case, access the following article: Pastor, Christian festival founder abused minors for 16 years, authorities say

Burlington County Launches Veterans Diversion Program

Mount Holly Veterans Defense LawyerBurlington County is implementing a new Veterans Diversion Program, which allows eligible veterans and active members of the armed services to resolve criminal charges through mental health services as opposed to the traditional legal process.

Current Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina announced the start of the initiative on Friday. The Veterans Diversion Program is based on a bill spearheaded by New Jersey State Senator Diane Allen of Edgewater Park and signed by Governor Chris Christie in May. Allen said she began working toward the legislation after an idea from a Municipal Court Judge in Moorestown. The intention of the program is to divert veterans and active-duty service members accused of non-violent crimes and lower-level offenses from being criminally prosecuted by providing them with counseling and treatment programs.

The process is as follows: if a person is arrested, police officers should ask them if they are former or active military. If a veteran or service member is charged with a criminal offense, they can apply for the Veterans Diversion Program and the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office will decide whether or not to grant their admission. When determining a person’s eligibility, the prosecutor’s office will consider the nature and circumstances of the offense, applicant’s criminal record (if any), and the likelihood that the person will respond well to treatment.

If the defendant is admitted into the Veterans Diversion Program program, they must agree to comply with the program’s provisions. Then, they must complete the requirements of the program during a period of probation. These include:

If a person successfully completes the program, which can extend from 6 months to up to 2 years, the initial charges are dismissed. Then, the person can also seek to expunge their entire criminal record of arrest(s) and criminal charges. In other words, you can start with a clean slate in the eyes of the law. This can be very important when applying for jobs or other opportunities moving forward. Notably, the Veterans Diversion Program is unique among diversionary programs in New Jersey because a person can use it more than one time if necessary.

This program is extremely beneficial in the Burlington County area, particularly because of its proximity to the Joint Base McGuire–Dix–Lakehurst. Joint Base McGuire–Dix–Lakehurst spans over 18 miles through a number of Burlington County municipalities, including Pemberton, Springfield, North Hanover, New Hanover, and Wrightstown. In fact, the Prosecutor Scott Coffina mentioned in his announcement that Burlington County has one of the largest populations of veterans and active service members in New Jersey.

Criminal Defense Lawyers for Veterans in Burlington County NJ

With so many members of the armed services in the Burlington County region, it is inevitable that some may have run-ins with the criminal justice system at some point. The important thing is that we honor these heroes with legal options like the Veterans Diversion Program. At The Law Offices of Leonard Biddison, our highly experienced criminal defense attorneys fight passionately on behalf of those who so selflessly fight for us. If you are a veteran or active member of the military facing criminal charges in Burlington County, New Jersey, contact us for a free consultation anytime at (856)-427-6888. We are happy to discuss your specific case, as well as the potential defenses and programs that we can use to have your charges dismissed.

For additional information related to this matter, access the following article: County unveils program to keep some veterans out of jail

Traffic Stop in Berlin Results in Arrest for Carjacking

Berlin NJ Carjacking ChargesOften, cases in Burlington County and Camden County overlap because of the proximity of these two counties in New Jersey. For example, in a recent case, a traffic stop in Berlin resulted in the arrest of a Burlington County man who was wanted in connected with a carjacking in Cherry Hill.

The aforementioned arrest occurred on Berlin Road at approximately 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, November 25th. An officer with the Berlin Police Department reportedly observed a suspicious car entering the PATCO parking lot before it fled on Route 73. The officer pursued the driver, pulling him over on White Horse Pike. Upon further investigation, the driver was identified as James Keck, a Rancocas resident in Burlington County.

He was arrested when police discovered he was driving a vehicle stolen during a carjacking that occurred in Cherry Hill just hours prior. Keck was charged with multiple criminal offenses and traffic violations in Berlin, including receiving stolen property and possession of synthetic marijuana. He was then transferred to Cherry Hill Police who were responsible for filing the carjacking charges.

Unfortunately, Keck is now exposed to severe penalties, the most serious of which are associated with the alleged carjacking offense. Carjacking is considered an extremely serious crime in New Jersey. In fact, it is classified as a first degree crime in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:15-2. According to this statute, a carjacking offense occurs when a person unlawfully takes or attempts to take a vehicle while using force on the vehicle’s occupant, threatening them with bodily injury, threatening to commit any felony, or armed with a weapon. A person can also be charged with carjacking for taking and operating a car with the initial occupant inside.

Although carjacking is a first degree crime, it entails as extended prison sentence of between 10 and 30 years in New Jersey State Prison. This sentencing range is longer than those for typical first degree felonies, which are punishable by between 10 and 20 years. Further, carjacking is governed by the New Jersey No Early Release Act (NERA), which requires those convicted to serve a minimum of 85 percent of the sentence imposed before parole eligibility.

Need a Lawyer for a Carjacking Case in Camden County NJ?

If you have been charged with carjacking in Camden County, New Jersey, our criminal defense lawyers will fight for you. At The Law Offices of Leonard Biddison, our attorneys regularly represent clients facing criminal charges in Berlin, Cherry Hill, and throughout Camden County and Burlington County. With offices in Collingswood, we often appear on behalf of clients who have multiple cases in both counties. Because of our commitment to client satisfaction, we also have countless returning clients who count on us whenever they find themselves in a jam. For a free consultation about your specific case, contact us anytime at (856)-427-6888 or submit an online contact form and we will get back to you right away.

For additional information related to this incident, access the following article: Traffic stop ends in arrest of carjacking suspect, cops say

Evesham Township NJ Drug Bust Leads to Heroin Charges for Two

Evesham NJ Heroin ChargesCharges for heroin happen on a regular basis in Evesham Township and throughout Burlington County, New Jersey. In a recent case, officials arrested two individuals accused of heroin distribution in Evesham NJ.

The drug charges in this case arose from a coordinated investigation among members of the Evesham Police Department and Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office. The undercover operation led investigators to 35-year-old Junior Laster and 29-year-old Jessica Horman, both of whom are residents of Pemberton Township.

Police allegedly observed the suspects attempting to distribute drugs in the Heritage Village neighborhood of Evesham Township. They were arrested in the vicinity of East Main Street. Authorities seized 70 bags of heroin in connection with the investigation. Now, Laster is facing charges for second degree distribution of heroin, third degree possession of heroin, and loitering to obtain or distribute CDS (controlled dangerous substance). Horman was also charged with loitering to obtain or distribute CDS.

Considering the charges against them, Laster is now exposed to more severe penalties. The most serious charge against him is for second degree heroin distribution. A second degree crime is the second-most serious type of felony in New Jersey and is punishable by up to 10 years in NJ State Prison. In order to be charged with a second degree crime for heroin distribution or intent to distribute, a person must have between 1/2 an ounce and 5 ounces. In this case, the 70 bags of heroin determine the degree of the crime in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:35-5.

Notably, a third degree charge for heroin possession is also considered a serious indictable crime in New Jersey. Under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10(a), possessing any amount of heroin is a third degree crime because it is classified as a Schedule I controlled dangerous substance in New Jersey. When a person faces charges for heroin possession, the State must prove they either possessed it actually or constructively.

Actual possession applies if the heroin is on your physical person (i.e. in your pocket, shoe, etc.). On the other hand, constructive possession may apply if you are in a vehicle containing heroin. In these cases, the prosecution must prove you were aware of the heroin and you had the power to exert control over it. In either scenario, an experienced criminal attorney should know a variety of defenses that can be used to undermine your “possession of heroin.”

Evesham NJ Heroin Lawyers

If you or a loved one is arrested for heroin in Evesham Township or Burlington County NJ, it is critical to mount an aggressive defense. Charges for possession of heroin and heroin distribution can change your life permanently, which is why you should have a skilled defense lawyer on your side. Leonard Biddison has over 20 years’ experience fighting heroin charges for clients in Burlington County and surrounding communities in Camden and Gloucester. Contact his offices in Collingswood anytime at (856)-427-6888 for a free consultation about your heroin case. This is one call you won’t regret.

For additional information related to this case, access the following article: Evesham police seize 70 bags of heroin, arrest two

Alleged Southampton Road Rage Incident Results in DWI, Aggravated Assault Charges for Police Officer

Southampton NJ DWI ChargesAfter an alleged road rage incident in Southampton, New Jersey last week, a police officer has been charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI), aggravated assault, and several other offenses.

The defendant in this case is 42-year-old Teddy Cerra, a resident of Southampton who serves as a police officer for the Franklin Township Police Department. Cerra was allegedly driving erratically on Red Lion Road in Southampton when he was observed by an off-duty Lumberton police officer. The off-duty officer, who remains unidentified, was driving his own car but wearing his uniform, as he was on his way to work when he reportedly saw Cerra swerving and driving dangerously.

The officer is said to have pulled Cerra over, after which Cerra was allegedly staggering. He is said to have exited his car, raised his shirt, and showed a gun. They had a short exchange during which Cerra identified himself as “blue,” as did the alleged victim. Then, the victim dropped to the ground and showed Cerra the ID in his wallet. He told investigators Cerra pointed his gun at his head and chest during the incident.

The Lumberton officer returned to his car and fled, with Cerra allegedly following him at over 100 miles per hour. After the victim called 911, Cerra was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, robbery, a weapons offense, and DWI. After the charges were filed, Cerra was suspended from active duty and is now under investigation by internal affairs.

On Wednesday, November 8th, he appeared in Burlington County Superior Court in Mount Holly for a detention hearing. Although the State argued for detention pending the resolution of the case, the presiding judge ordered him released on several conditions. Cerra must have no contact with the victim; forfeit his weapons, firearms dealer’s license, and firearms purchaser identification card; and report to court officials once a month.

In addition to losing his job, Cerra is exposed to serious jail time if convicted. He is facing multiple felony charges. For example, a person can be charged with aggravated assault in New Jersey for even pointing a firearm at or in the direction of another person, regardless of whether or not the actor knows it to be loaded. Under N.J.S.A. 2C:12-1(b), aggravated assault can be a second degree, third degree, or fourth degree crime, all of which are punishable by an NJ State Prison sentence. The indictable felony charges notwithstanding, even a conviction for DWI can lead to a jail sentence. A first offense DWI in New Jersey may result in up to 30 days in jail, plus a driver’s license suspension of up to 1 year.

Southampton NJ Criminal Defense Attorneys

Being arrested for a crime can turn your whole life upside-down. At The Law Offices of Leonard Biddison, our criminal defense attorneys know the toll a criminal case can take on your life and we work tirelessly to resolve your case in the best manner possible. Whether you have been charged with DUI, assault, weapons possession, or another offense, we have over 20 years’ experience to put to work for you. With offices in Collingswood, we serve clients in Southampton, Lumberton, and throughout Burlington County and surrounding communities. Call (856)-427-6888 today to speak with an attorney about your case. Consultations are always provided free of charge.

For additional information pertaining to this case, access the following article: Cop charged in alleged Southampton road rage incident released from jail

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