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Former New Jersey police chief to be resentenced

Accusations of domestic violence can change a person’s life forever. If the accusations are accompanied by arestraining order, the restrained person may be forced to vacate their own home, lose child custody rights and/or forfeit their right to own a gun. All of these things can seriously impact the accused person’s personal and professional life; sometimes, it can even end a promising career.

This was the motive presented by the prosecution in a high-profile domestic violence case against a former New Jersey police chief charged with conspiring to kill his estranged wife. It was argued he blamed her for the demise of his career after she filed a restraining order against him in 2003. He lost his badge as a result. A trial in 2009 was declared a mistrial because the jury could not agree on a murder conspiracy verdict; he was found guilty at the retrial and sentenced to 17 years in state prison. His defense attorney appealed the conviction and subsequent sentencing on multiple grounds. The appeals court upheld the conviction but ruled that he was entitled to be resentenced because the law was misapplied during sentencing. The original judge used stricter sentencing guidelines because the man was in a position of trust as a law enforcement officer, but he had already been suspended at the time of the alleged murder conspiracy. It is unknown how much his sentence will be lessened.

This case highlights the importance of having an attorney to fight for your rights. Judges are required to follow sentencing guidelines for the sake of consistency; yet different judges may interpret the guidelines differently. If you feel that the law was not applied correctly in your own domestic violence case, you may want to file a criminal appeal.

Source: Phillyburbs.com, “Appeals court upholds former chief Castagna's conviction in murder plot,”Danielle Camilli, July 19, 2013

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