In most New Jersey DWI cases, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed each element of a crime. In cases in which the defendant pleads guilty, however, the State’s burden differs. Thus, it is critical for someone considering entering a guilty plea to fully understand the ramifications of the plea and how the plea may affect his or her defenses thereafter. This was demonstrated in a recent New Jersey DWI case in which the defendant was convicted after he pled guilty and then argued that the State did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed the crime. If you are charged with a DWI offense in New Jersey, it is advisable to engage a trusted New Jersey DWI defense attorney who will work hard to protect your rights.
Facts and Procedural History of the Case
It is reported that the defendant was charged with his second DWI offense. He filed a motion to dismiss the charge, arguing that the State could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he was guilty. A municipal court hearing was held on the motion, during which the officer that arrested the defendant testified that he observed the defendant asleep in the driver’s seat of his car, with the engine running and the lights on, at a gas station in the middle of the night. Further, he testified that the windshield was smashed and the front bumper was damaged. When the officer woke the defendant, he had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, and smelled of alcohol. He subsequently submitted to field sobriety tests, which he failed.
Allegedly, the defendant testified that on the night of his arrest, he hit a deer and then drove to a gas station and called his mother. He stated that while he was waiting for his mother, he drank four beers from a six-pack he had in his car. The municipal court judge did not find the defendant’s story to be credible and denied his motion to dismiss. The defendant appealed, and the Law Division affirmed, finding sufficient circumstantial evidence that the defendant operated his vehicle, after which the defendant entered a conditional guilty plea. He was sentenced, then appealed the denial of his motion to dismiss. Continue reading