The Burden of Proof in a New Jersey DWI Case

scales of justiceIf you have been charged with a DWI in New Jersey, you should not delay in reaching out to a skilled DWI lawyer who can assess the details of your case. A DWI conviction can adversely affect every aspect of your life, including your criminal record, your job prospects, and even your reputation. The stakes are high, and having the right criminal defense team on your side may make a huge difference in your case.

In New Jersey, the basic offense of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) requires a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. The BAC must be obtained within a reasonable period of time after your operation of the vehicle. It is important to note that an individual can also be charged and convicted of a DWI if he or she was driving while under the influence of “narcotics, hallucinogenic, or habit-producing drugs” as well. This highlights that DWIs are not limited to alcohol. Instead, they extend to any substance that may impair a person’s ability to drive safely.

Every criminal defendant in the United States enjoys the presumption of innocence, which means he or she is presumed innocent until proven guilty. As a result, the driver is not required to show any proof demonstrating that he or she is not guilty. In all DWI cases, the burden of proof is on the state to prove the elements of a DWI “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This is the highest burden of proof in the criminal justice system, and it is intentionally high because a person’s liberty may be at stake. The government also has the burden to establish any prior offenses. If the prosecutor establishes a DWI charge beyond a reasonable doubt, the driver will be found guilty.

The “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard has not been explicitly defined in the U.S. Constitution or in the New Jersey Constitution. However, jurors in New Jersey courts are typically told that a “reasonable doubt” is an honest and reasonable uncertainty about the guilt of the defendant after a full and impartial consideration of all of the evidence. Reasonable doubt may stem from the evidence itself or from a lack of evidence. In other words, proof beyond a reasonable doubt should leave jurors with an abiding conviction that the charges against the defendant are true. In criminal cases, the evidence does not need to overcome every possible doubt, just a “reasonable” doubt.

When a defendant raises a defense, the prosecution must rebut the defense as part of their burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

A DWI conviction can have harsh and long-term consequences for your life. If you have been charged with a DWI, it is imperative to have a seasoned New Jersey DWI attorney on your side. With years of experience, we understand the nuances of this complex area of law. You can rest assured that we will work diligently to protect your rights at every step of the way. To discuss your case in more detail, feel free to contact us online or call us at 877-450.8301.

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