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State v. Melvin

New Jersey Supreme Court

September 23, 2021

Two homicide trials for two defendants before the same judge ended with the jury finding each defendant guilty of some charges. One defendant was found guilty of firearms charges but acquitted of first-degree murder. A jury found the other defendant of kidnapping and felony murder but acquitted her of first-degree murder. At sentencing, relying on United States v. Watts, the lower court found by a preponderance of the evidence that each defendant had engaged in the conduct the juries’ verdicts acquitted them of. And as a result, the judge imposed harsher sentences. The Court found as a matter of due process and fundamental fairness that the sentencing court could not consider acquitted conduct and thus remanded both cases for resentencing.

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