NJ Supreme Court Strikes Down Part of New Jersey Bias Crime Law
A recent decision made by the New Jersey Supreme Court to strike down a portion of the state’s bias crime law is giving new hope to Dharun Ravi, convicted in 2012 in the Tyler Clementi webcam case. The law, now deemed unconstitutional, played a crucial role in Ravi’s conviction which his lawyers now say should be thrown out.
The case made headlines in 2010 when Ravi’s roommate, Rutgers University student, Tyler Clementi, jumped to his death off the George Washington Bridge. The fatal accident occurred several days after Clementi had learned that Ravi had set up a remote webcam to spy on him while he was having an intimate encounter with another man.
Ravi was never charged in Clementi’s death and he adamantly denied any bias against homosexuals. According to the court of public opinion, it was his actions that led to Clementi’s suicide. The case spurred national anti-bullying campaigns and public outcries regarding hate crimes aimed at members of the LGBT community.
New Jersey Supreme Court Examines Clause
In 2012, a jury convicted Ravi on 15 charges that included invasion of privacy and bias intimidation. A large part of the evidence that led to those convictions revolved around the third clause of the state’s bias intimidation law, which does not focus on the defendant’s intent, but rather what the victim believed about the defendant’s motivation. The clause was the only one in the country like it.
In an unrelated case, lawyers argued that the law results in individuals being convicted based not on what they are thinking, but rather on their failure to appreciate what the victim was thinking. The New Jersey Supreme Court looked closely at this clause and ultimately decided that it was unconstitutional. The court’s ruling states that a victim’s perception of bias is based on his or her individual experiences and distinctive cultural, historical and familial heritage – all of which may be unknown or unknowable to the defendant.
Ravi’s lawyers say they are preparing a criminal appeal and are optimistic that this time, their client will be vindicated. They point out that the jury’s opinion of Ravi’s wrongdoing was tainted by evidence based on Clementi’s perception of bias – not actual bias on the part of their client, and therefore the whole case should be thrown out.
Cherry Hill Criminal Lawyer Jill R. Cohen Handles All Types of Appeals
If you believe that a misapplication of the law led to your criminal conviction or that of a loved one, contact the Law Offices of Jill R. Cohen. Ms. Cohen has extensive experience in criminal law, both as a prosecutor and now as a premier Cherry Hill criminal lawyer. She also has the added benefit of having formerly served as assistant Philadelphia district attorney where she spent two years arguing for leniency at the appellate level.
To speak to a Cherry Hill criminal lawyer about the possibility of appealing your conviction, call the Law Offices of Jill R. Cohen today or submit an online contact form to schedule a free consultation. We are located in Westmont, New Jersey and serve clients throughout the region including Cherry Hill, Haddonfield, Camden County, Gloucester County, Atlantic County, Salem County, Burlington County, Cumberland County, Mercer County, and Camden City.