Court Discusses Procedural Requirements for Seeking Post-Conviction Relief in New Jersey DWI Cases

In many instances, even if a person is convicted of DWI, he or she may be able to obtain post-conviction relief. While there are substantive requirements a person must meet to obtain a reversal of a DWI conviction, there are procedural requirements as well. This was discussed in a recent case in which the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, affirmed the denial of a defendant’s petition for post-conviction relief, due to the defendant’s extreme delay in seeking such relief. If you were previously convicted of DWI or currently face DWI charges, it is wise to speak with a New Jersey DWI defense attorney to your options for protecting your rights.

Background of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant pled guilty to two separate DWI charges twenty-eight and twenty-five years before he filed two petitions for post-conviction relief in 2018, asking the court to allow him to withdraw his guilty pleas. The defendant argued, in part, that he was not represented by an attorney for the first conviction, and that for both convictions, the court did not elicit the factual basis for either conviction, and he was not informed of his potential defenses or the consequences of entering a guilty plea. The municipal court denied the petitions, after which the defendant appealed. On appeal, the Superior Court affirmed.

Procedural Requirements for Seeking Post-Conviction Relief

Under New Jersey law, any petition seeking post-conviction relief must be filed within five years after a conviction is entered, or a sentence is imposed, unless the defendant can demonstrate that the delay in filing was due to his or her excusable neglect. In the subject case, the defendant argued that the delay was caused by his lack of knowledge regarding the law and his ignorance of the consequence of DWI convictions. Thus, the court found that the defendant failed to establish that his neglect in filing the petitions in a timely manner was excusable.

The court also declined to adopt the defendant’s reasoning that his petitions must be granted to prevent injustice. Under the relevant laws, the time constraints of when a defendant may file a petition for post-conviction relief will only be relaxed in extreme circumstances. In the subject case, the court found that there was no evidence that manifest injustice would occur if the defendant’s petitions were not granted. Specifically, the defendant did not claim that he was innocent or had compelling reasons for seeking to withdraw of his guilty pleas. Further, the court noted that allowing the defendant to withdraw his prior pleas over twenty years after they were entered would result in extreme prejudice to the State. Thus, the court affirmed the lower court ruling denying the defendant’s petitions.

Meet with a Knowledgeable New Jersey DWI Defense Attorney

If you were convicted of DWI and wish to seek post-conviction relief or are currently charged with a DWI offense, it is crucial to meet with a New Jersey DWI attorney to discuss your options. The diligent attorneys of the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall will work tirelessly to help you seek the best legal result available given the facts of your case. We can be reached via our form online or at  877-450-8301 to schedule a meeting.