Court Discusses the Confrontation Clause in the Context of a DWI Case

In New Jersey, both the State and the defendant have the right to examine witnesses at trial. Thus, in cases in which either party tries to admit an out of court statement in lieu of testimony, the statement may be barred under the confrontation clause. The parameters of the confrontation clause and any applicable exceptions were recently discussed in a New Jersey DWI case in which the defendant argued that the trial court erred in permitting a statement that implicated her guilt. If you are charged with a DWI crime in New Jersey, it is important to understand your rights, and you should convene with a knowledgeable New Jersey DWI defense attorney to assess your charges as soon as possible.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with second-degree homicide by vehicle for striking and killing a person when she was driving while intoxicated. The defendant was convicted, after which she appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in refusing to admit evidence that her husband had been driving when the crime was allegedly committed. The appellate court found in favor of the defendant and remanded the case for a new trial. Following the second trial, the defendant was again convicted, after which she appealed, arguing that the trial court improperly admitted statements showing that the defendant’s husband stated at the scene of the crime that the defendant was driving when the accident occurred.

Grounds for Recusal in a New Jersey Criminal Case

The confrontation clauses of the United States and New Jersey constitutions bar out of court testimonial hearsay that has not been tested via cross-examination, in lieu of in-court testimony. On appeal, the court explained that any narrative statement a person makes to a police officer about a crime is testimonial if the statement is made once any imminent danger to the person or anyone else has ended.

The confrontation clause does not prohibit a party from introducing an out of court testimonial statement for purposes of other than establishing the truth of the matter asserted. In other words, they are admissible for reasons other than demonstrating that the statement is true. As such, statements that are not hearsay are not granted confrontation clause considerations. Further, a defendant may waive the right to confrontation by failing to object to hearsay. In some instances, defense counsel will adopt this tactic if the testimony presented is beneficial to the defendant. Regardless, it is the defendant’s choice whether to assert his or her rights under the confrontation clause.

In the subject case, the court noted that the defendant waived her right to object pursuant to the confrontation clause by waiting until over a week after the allegedly objectionable testimony to argue it was inadmissible. As such, the court found that she waived her right to object and affirmed the trial court ruling.

Speak to a Capable New Jersey DWI Defense Attorney

If you are charged with a DWI offense in New Jersey, it is advisable to speak to an attorney regarding your rights and potential defenses. The capable New Jersey DWI defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall are well versed in what it takes to obtain a favorable outcome in criminal matters. If you retain us, we will advocate tirelessly on your behalf.  You can contact us via our form online or at 877-450-8301 to set up a meeting.

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