State v. Clarke

Citation486 A.2d 935,198 N.J.Super. 219
PartiesSTATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Derek CLARKE, Defendant-Appellant. STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Glenn FREEMAN, Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date18 January 1985
CourtNew Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division

Page 219

198 N.J.Super. 219
486 A.2d 935
STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent,
Derek CLARKE, Defendant-Appellant.
STATE of New Jersey, Plaintiff-Respondent,
Glenn FREEMAN, Defendant-Appellant.
Superior Court of New Jersey,
Appellate Division.
Submitted and Argued Dec. 4, 1984.
Decided Jan. 18, 1985.

[486 A.2d 936]

Page 222

Joseph H. Rodriguez, Public Defender, for defendant-appellant Derek Clarke (Joseph G. Czarnecki, Designated Counsel, Mountainside, on the brief).

Daniel V. Gautieri, Asst. Deputy Public Defender, for defendant-appellant Glenn Freeman (Joseph H. Rodriguez, Public Defender, attorney; Daniel V. Gautieri, Asst. Public Defender, of counsel and on the brief).

Ulrike M. Ziebarth, Asst. Bergen County Prosecutor, for plaintiff-respondent in Docket No. A-4690-81T4 (Larry J. McClure, Bergen County Prosecutor, for respondent in both actions; Ulrike M. Ziebarth, Asst. Bergen County Pros. of counsel and on the brief in both actions).

Before Judges PRESSLER, BRODY and HAVEY.

The opinion of the court was delivered by


A jury found appellants and a co-defendant guilty of attempted burglary. We consolidated their separate appeals and now reverse the convictions and remand for a new trial because the trial judge erred in refusing to allow the jury to consider whether appellants committed the crime of criminal mischief. Two additional points raised by appellants will require attention; the rest are rendered moot by our remand.

Robert Livaich, an off-duty police officer, was driving past a warehouse about 9:45 p.m. when he noticed defendant William Josey pacing back and forth in front of the building. Josey was looking from side-to-side and over his shoulder toward the building. [486 A.2d 937] The officer suspected that Josey was standing lookout for a burglary. He parked his car in a lot across from the warehouse and continued his observations. An on-duty police

Page 223

officer happened to drive past the building about the same time in response to a call from another location. He heard the sound of breaking glass coming from the direction of the warehouse and radioed this information to police headquarters.

Detective Robert Stewart responded to the radio call and joined Officer Livaich just after Josey had entered a wooded area alongside the building. The officers followed him and soon came upon all three defendants crouched behind bushes near the building. The officers testified that a pair of gym socks were lying on the ground nearby. Detective Stewart testified that socks are commonly used by burglars to protect their hands from shards of glass and to avoid leaving fingerprints. The police found another pair of socks in defendant Clarke's back pocket.

Meanwhile additional officers arrived at the scene. An inspection of the building revealed that a windowpane, located at the front of the building behind tall shrubs, was completely missing. A rock and shattered glass were inside the building near the window. There were shoeprints on the ground in a two-foot space between the shrubs and the broken window.

The State relied on the foregoing circumstantial evidence to prove the crime of attempted burglary, the only offense charged in the indictment.

Defendants told their story through the testimony of Josey. He testified that they were on the way to the movies when they stopped at a tavern to purchase a six-pack of beer. They took the beer to where the police later found them. After finishing his beer, Josey left to purchase cigarettes with the understanding that he would meet the others in front of the warehouse upon his return and then they would go to the movies. When Josey returned the others were not there. While he was waiting for them to emerge from the bushes, he noticed a police car pass by. He then went into the bushes to see what was causing the delay. He found his friends and had settled in with them when the police arrived. Josey denied any intent to

Page 224

burglarize the warehouse, denied hearing the sound of breaking glass, and denied seeing any socks on the ground. The jury obviously rejected his story.

After both sides had rested, defendant Clarke's attorney asked the court to "charge criminal mischief as a lesser included offense" based upon evidence that defendants broke the window. Criminal mischief is committed by a person who "[p]urposely or knowingly damages tangible property of another...." N.J.S.A. 2C:17-3(a)(1). Without asking the assistant prosecutor for his view, the trial judge replied:

Absolutely not. There is no evidence that they committed criminal mischief, none at all.

He explained that in view of Josey's denial that he broke the window and in the absence of any direct evidence that any of the defendants threw the rock through the window, it would be "speculation" for the jury to find that they had. We disagree.

A trial judge must charge a lesser included offense "when the facts on the record would justify a conviction" for that offense even where there has been no request by the parties to do so. State v. Powell, 84 N.J. 305, 319, 419 A.2d 406 (1980). This permits a jury to return a verdict that conforms to the evidence and relieves the pressure to return an all-or-nothing verdict. See State v. Lopez, 160 N.J.Super. 30, 36, 388 A.2d 1273 (App.Div.1978). Here the judge did not have to act sua sponte.

The theory of the State's case was that the arrival of the police prevented defendants from carrying out their plan to burglarize the warehouse after they had taken a substantial step toward committing that crime. Taking "a substantial step" is a key element of an attempt. N.J.S.A. 2C:5-[486 A.2d 938] 1(a)(3). The State argues that Josey's conduct as lookout, the socks in Clarke's pocket, and defendants' hiding in the bushes were enough to establish the requisite substantial step without the need to prove that defendants also broke the window.

We cannot assume...

To continue reading

Request your trial
19 cases
  • State v. Engel
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • July 2, 1991
    ...Waste Ass'n, 96 Page 360 N.J. 8, 18-19, 472 A.2d 1050 (1984); State v. Weleck, 10 N.J. 355, 364, 91 A.2d 751 (1952); State v. Clarke, 198 N.J.Super. 219, 228, 486 A.2d 935 (App.Div.1985); State v. Porro, 158 N.J.Super. 269, 281, 385 A.2d 1258 (App.Div.1978), cert. den. 439 U.S. 1047, 99 S.C......
  • People v. Birks, S057191
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (California)
    • August 31, 1998
    ...shown by the evidence. (Moore v. State (1989) 105 Nev. 378, 776 P.2d 1235, 1238-1239 [following Geiger ]; State v. Clarke (1985) 198 N.J.Super. 219, 486 A.2d 935, 938 [where charge was attempted burglary, which has no lesser included offense due to "inchoate" nature of crime, technicalities......
  • State v. Sanchez
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • March 30, 1988
    ...v. Hollander, 201 N.J.Super. 453, 473, 493 A.2d 563 (App.Div.1985) certif. den. 101 N.J. 335, 501 A.2d 983 (1985); State v. Clarke, 198 N.J.Super. 219, 224, 486 A.2d 935 (App.Div.1985). It is necessary then to examine the elements of murder and manslaughter in light of the facts and circums......
  • State v. Reldan
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
    • July 24, 1985
    ...reconsideration of pretrial ruling after appeal). Our decisional law has generally followed this approach. See State v. Clarke, 198 N.J.Super. 219, 486 A.2d 935 (App.Div.1985) (record made at first pretrial motion to suppress shall obtain on retrial and requires suppression); State v. Fiora......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT