Wait to Investigate and Interrogate to Seal Officer’s Fate

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On June 21, 2007, the New Jersey Supreme Court decided a case that can be very helpful to police administrations in making administrative, disciplinary charges stick following a criminal investigation which results in acquittal or a decision not to prosecute.

I have observed a common misconception among police administrations that often believe that when an officer is the subject of a criminal investigation, and the determination is made not to prosecute the officer criminally (often through what is commonly known as a “check-off letter”), there is then forty-five days from that determination in which administrative disciplinary charges must be brought. I have argued for years that the forty-five (45) day rule of N.J.S.A.40A:14-147 allows time to continue investigation after receipt of a check-off letter or acquittal in most if not all cases, and the forty-five (45) day “clock” starts ticking only when such an internal administrative investigation is complete, rather than on the date of the check-off letter or acquittal.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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