As reported by nj.com, former police detective Jake Pascucci has been sentenced to a year in County Jail for his part in a 2017 DWI fatality. Pascucci was off-duty at the time of the incident. The untimely death of a local woman is a tragic and unnecessary loss of life first and foremost. However, it is also an interesting case study showing a new law in effect, and how DWI cases are changing in our state. This case is historically significant, being the first usage of the new New Jersey strict liability vehicular homicide laws passed on July 21st 2017.
Today, our DWI criminal defense attorneys will review the details of this recent sentencing, discuss the implications for future DWI cases in New Jersey, and more.
Long Branch, NJ Detective Sentenced for Vehicular Homicide
In September 2017, 66 year old Karen Borkowski was struck and killed by a 2016 Jeep Cherokee traveling southbound on Ocean Boulevard in Long Branch, NJ. Borkowski was pronounced dead on the scene of the incident as a result of her injuries. The driver of the vehicle was off-duty police detective Jake Pascucci. Pascucci was a eight year veteran of the police force, even earning the honor of “Cop of the Month” in 2015.
At the time of the incident, Pascucci had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08, the minimum amount which determines that an individual was legally intoxicated. Earlier this year, Pascucci pleaded guilty as part of a deal in which he would expect to serve between zero (0) and five (5) years in county jail. This deal also allows his attorney, Steve Altman to appeal any sentencing. Altman has already indicated that he intends to appeal the decision and seek a reduced sentence.
Edward Burkowski, Karen’s surviving husband, stated that he was satisfied with the ruling and “I hope it holds up”. The appeal must be entered within 10 days of the decision. Pascucci expressed his regret of the incident in court via a statement which read in part, “Like all people, I’m susceptible to making mistakes. With that being said, I stand before the Borkowski family in this courtroom here to apologize.”
Monmouth County DWI Defense Attorneys Discuss New Strict Liability Laws
Our Monmouth County DWI defense attorneys view this case as a precedent setting event with some key considerations. This is indeed the first usage of the NJ strict liability vehicular homicide statutes, but it is anything but a typical vehicular homicide case. The vehicular homicide regulations were implemented after public outrage surrounding light sentences for DWI vehicular manslaughter and vehicle homicide cases. Previously, third degree convictions for first time offenders would typically carry no incarceration. This new law allows DWI cases where the victim is killed with a new crime distinction: third degree strict liability homicide.
As mentioned previously, Pascucci has received a one (1) year sentence with the potential to have that reduced. This is within the range allowable, but on the lower end. Our Monmouth County criminal defense attorneys expect this not to be a typical case for the following reasons:
- Pascucci was a first time offender
- Pascucci was tested at the minimum BAC to be considered legally drunk (one hundredth of a percentage less and the case would have been different)
- As a police officer and community member, Pascucci showed that he was a responsible and conscientious person leading up to the crime
Facing DWI Charges? Contact our West Long Branch Criminal Defense Attorneys Today
The DWI criminal defense attorneys of Chamlin, Rosen, Uliano & Witherington have decades of legal experience defending the legal rights of clients across Monmouth County communities including West Long Branch, Freehold, Red Bank, Howell, Asbury Park, Middletown, and all of Central New Jersey. Our team employs a wide variety of tactics to contest the criminal charges leveled against our clients. We have a proven track record of having our clients’ DWI or DUI charges reduced or dismissed.