In many instances in which a defendant is charged with a DWI offense, the key disputed issue is whether the defendant actually operated a vehicle while intoxicated. Thus, in many cases, the prosecution will seek to introduce circumstantial evidence that suggests the defendant was driving prior to his or her arrest. Any court considering what evidence should be admitted must conduct a balancing test between whether the evidence is relevant or unduly prejudicial. However, the introduction of inappropriate evidence may constitute a violation of the defendant’s rights. This was evidenced in a recent case in which the court overturned a verdict convicting the defendant of multiple DWI related crimes due to the admission of inappropriate hearsay evidence. If you are a resident of New Jersey currently faced with DWI charges, it is important to retain an assertive New Jersey DWI defense attorney who will fight to protect your rights.
The Defendant’s Charges and Convictions
It is reported that the defendant was charged with driving during a license suspension for a second or subsequent DWI, DWI, and numerous other traffic offenses. The main issue at trial was whether the defendant actually operated the vehicle prior to his arrest. The defendant presented testimony from his wife that she was driving and left the defendant by the side of the road after an argument. Conversely, the State presented testimony from the arresting officer that he was dispatched after a 911 call reporting that an intoxicated male had crashed his vehicle and was stuck on the side of the road.
Following the trial, the defendant was convicted of all counts and sentenced to 365 days in jail for the crime of driving with a suspended license and 180 days in jail for the DWI. The defendant appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in admitting hearsay testimony regarding the 911 call. Upon review, the appellate court agreed, finding the testimony was hearsay and unduly prejudicial, and reversed the defendant’s convictions. Continue reading