A DWI conviction can have serious and long-term consequences for many aspects of your life. Even if you have been convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI), there is a procedure in the law which allows a reversal in certain, limited circumstances. Courts can use prior DWI convictions as grounds to impose harsher penalties for a current DWI conviction. This is where post-conviction relief (PCR) can be critical to your case. While the process is complex and time-consuming, the results can be worth it. A skilled New Jersey DWI lawyer can scrutinize the facts of your case and determine whether you may be eligible for PCR.
New Jersey law permits individuals previously convicted of a DWI to petition the court for PCR, which is the legal process that takes place after a trial results in the conviction of the defendant. When a person applies for PCR, he or she is asking the court to reopen the case and vacate the original finding of guilt. This entails investigating the prior conviction to determine if the court, the State, or defense counsel made any mistakes. Successful PCR can reduce or even eliminate penalties that are typically associated with a DWI, such as license suspension and jail time; thus, PCR can effectively dismantle the adverse impact a DWI has on an individual’s employment, housing, professional licenses and overall reputation. Common grounds for PCR are as follows:
- Ineffective assistance of counsel;
- The defendant’s guilty plea did not meet legal requirements;
- Newly discovered evidence;
- Juror misconduct;
- Prosecutorial misconduct;
- Misapplication of jail and gap-time credit;
- Illegal sentence;
- Lack of jurisdiction.
There may be other, less common, grounds for PCR, as well. For example, the defendant’s English was extremely poor and he was not provided an interpreter. Every case is different and we will only be able to inform you of your PCR options once we have thoroughly examined the facts of your case.
Typically, there is a five-year time limit for filing a PCR. Specifically, New Jersey Rules of Court. Rule 7:10-2(b) states that a petition for PCR must be filed within five years of the date that the defendant was convicted or sentenced. There are two exceptions. The first allows the court to waive the time limit if it finds “excusable neglect” by the defendant. The second exception is if the reason for the petition is to “correct an illegal sentence.” In such cases, there is no time limit. An illegal sentence is one in which the penalties exceed those allowed under the law, or a sentence that is the result of the court disregarding the law.
In New Jersey, a DWI is considered a traffic violation, not a criminal offense. As such, drunk-driving convictions cannot be expunged from the record. The only way to remove a DWI conviction from the record is through PCR.
DWI convictions are a serious matter and it may be worth exploring your prior conviction. We will investigate the circumstances of your prior convictions to determine your legal options. Motions for PCR can be complex, and having the right New Jersey PCR attorney on your side can make all the difference in your case. We are here to answer all your questions and address your concerns. To discuss your case in more detail, please do not hesitate to call us at 877-450-8301 or contact us online.
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