People who are charged with third-offense DWI crimes are often rightfully concerned that they may face significant penalties, including jail time if they are convicted. As such, in some cases, people charged with third-offense DWIs may attempt to have earlier DWI convictions vacated on the grounds that they were not advised of the penalties for subsequent convictions. In a recent ruling, a New Jersey court discussed what a defendant must prove in order for a court to vacate a prior DWI conviction for lack of appropriate notice. If you are charged with a third offense DWI, it is smart to meet with a trusted New Jersey DWI defense lawyer to assess your possible defenses.
The Defendant’s Arguments
Reportedly, the defendant was charged with a third offense DWI in 2018, which carried a penalty of a mandatory six-month jail sentence. In an effort to avoid imprisonment, the defendant sought to have his guilty plea for his second DWI, which occurred in 2012, vacated on the grounds that he was not properly advised of the penalties he would face for a subsequent conviction. The municipal court denied his motion to vacate his 2012 plea, and he appealed. The first Law Division judge that heard the matter affirmed the trial court ruling, but the second Law Division judge vacated the defendant’s plea. The State then appealed.
Consequences of the Failure to Provide a DWI Defendant with Notice
Under New Jersey law, a motion to withdraw a guilty plea must be made before sentencing, but a court may permit such a motion at a later date if it is necessary to prevent manifest injustice. In the subject case, the court ultimately found that no injustice occurred and reversed the second Law Division judge’s ruling. Continue reading