Opinions, Perceptions, and Misconceptions

Devant le miroir
(Before the Mirror)

Édouard Manet (1832-1883)
[Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons

Jargget Washington

On October 21, 2012, Jargget Washington allegedly tried gnawing off his own wrist, defecated in the back of a police cruiser, and bit off and swallowed his own finger at the Hudson County jail, according to nj.com.

All this unfolded after Washington's failed attempt at an alleged carjacking while naked, according to courierpostonline.com.

Authorities have said Washington was brought twice to Jersey City Medical Center for evaluation before he allegedly swallowed his finger, according to the media.

Press reports also indicate authorities believe the 29-year-old was allegedly under the influence of PCP.

Keith Costill

On October 15, 2012, and again on October 25, 2012, nj.com ran stories about former Deputy Attorney General Keith Costill.

The Pennington resident, according to nj.com, previously plead guilty to a July 2010 incident when his SUV jumped a curb, struck, injured, and killed Hikema George.

As reported by the press, authorities initially charged Costill with vehicular homicide--a second-degree crime with a State Prison sentence between five years and ten years.

The news reported, however, Costill received five years probation last June after pleading to assault by an automobile--a lesser crime with up to 18 months Prison.

A few days after sentencing, according to the press, Hopewell police arrested Costill for alleged public intoxication and 0.14% blood alcohol content (BAC).

On a separate occasion, according to the news, Costill allegedly had a 0.20% BAC.

According to nj.com, Costill plead guilty in 2001 to fourth-degree child abuse and neglect. The news indicated Costill left his 2-year-old twin daughters alone in a locked car and asleep for approximately an hour while he drank at a Cherry Hill hotel.

Opinions, Perceptions, and Misconceptions

Without intending any disrespect, these news items suggest Messrs. Washington and Costill have problems and require help.

Like many people, I read the news. I am familiar with the various reactions stories like these may evoke.

The experience of law abiding individuals as to crime is probably and, to be frank, hopefully limited to the media.

Accordingly, law abiding individuals frequently, and understandably, do not know or comprehend why one would choose to be a criminal defense lawyer. I expect most people will not understand my reasons.

Many, if not all, of the same people also question the morals and ethics of criminal defense lawyers based on this professional choice. Some do this privately, and others openly ask.

None of this offends me because I know who I am.

My profession provides an opportunity to help people. To do this effectively requires seeing a set of facts both the same as most others, and at the same time differently than most others. To do this professionally requires experience and proper analysis.

In academic terms, specific and general deterrence figure prominently among justifications for punishment. And rehabilitation plays an equally significant role. The justice system does not exist only to stop offenders by imposing penalties. It also assists an offender become a productive member of society.

I expect many folks wonder why one, such as me, would choose to help people in the criminal justice system as opposed to those involved in, say, real estate transactions, wills, estates, or any of the myriad areas of legal practice.

Life is unpredictable. We as humans may try to control our lives' circumstances, but this is not always possible. For example, none of us are immune from sickness.

In addition, people can make mistakes. No human is immune because we all possess an unlimited capacity to make errors.

One cannot predict with any degree of accuracy when stressful circumstances will arise, how one may act under those circumstances, the mistakes one may make under those circumstances, or the long term personal impact of them.

Society has decided some mistakes are forgivable, while others may have far reaching legal consequences.

My clients may have made more mistakes than other people. Alternatively, my clients' mistakes may be more significant than those committed by others.

It seems to me, however, that anyone could commit an error that requires the legal assistance I provide.

The Law Office of Michael A. Smolensky LLC does not represent either Jargget Washington or Keith Costill.

Experienced New Jersey Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Smolensky, Esquire, knows how to protect his clients. Mr. Smolensky can provide consultations for all cases. Call Now—(856) 812-0321.

Law Office of Michael A. Smolensky LLC on the World Wide Web.