Authorities from the Wall Township Police Department recently charged a man with driving while intoxicated (DWI) and drug possession after a motor vehicle stop. The man is now facing additional charges for aggravated assault, among other offenses, as police say he attempted to stab an officer with a pen while being processed at police headquarters.
The motor vehicle stop in question was conducted just after 1:00 a.m. on Sunday, July 31, at which time a Wall Township Patrolman stopped a driver near the northbound Garden State Parkway exit ramp on Highway 138. The driver, 28-year-old Staten Island resident Vincent Russo, was charged with DWI shortly thereafter.
When police conducted a search of Russo’s vehicle, they reportedly discovered marijuana and the prescription drug Xanax, after which Russo was also charged with possession of marijuana under 50 grams and unlawful possession of prescription drugs (he did not have a valid prescription).
Russo was transported to Wall Police headquarters for processing, where officials say he attempted to assault an officer by stabbing him with a pen. He was then charged with resisting arrest, aggravated assault, and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose. Following the alleged incident, Russo was ordered to be held in lieu of bail set at $15,000 at the Monmouth County Correctional Facility in Freehold.
This case illustrates some important aspects of New Jersey law regarding assault and weapons offenses. First, assault charges vary in terms of severity based on several factors, including the identity of the alleged victim. The law is such that an assault offense that may otherwise be considered a simple assault, is elevated to an aggravated assault if the alleged victim is a law enforcement officer, public servant, or another individual operating in an official capacity.
Second, note that Russo was also charged with possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. In this case, the weapon in question was a pen. Although one might consider a pen to be a harmless object, the way in which it was allegedly used in this case makes it fit the criteria of a “weapon” under New Jersey law. In New Jersey, a “weapon” is considered anything readily capable of lethal use or of inflicting serious bodily injury.
Considering the seriousness of the crimes for which he is accused, Russo is facing significant penalties if he is ultimately found guilty, and what began as a motor vehicle stop spiraled into a multiple-felony case against him.
For additional information pertaining to this case, access the following article: Man charged with stabbing N.J. cop with pen