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.
The court explained that the failure to provide a defendant with notice of the penalties of a future DWI violation as required by the law does not prevent a court from imposing enhanced penalties for future DWI convictions. The court explained that the defendant’s position was essentially that the legislature intended to bar sentencing of subsequent offenders if they were not, at a minimum, orally advised of the penalties of second or third convictions. The court found that this would frustrate the purpose of the statutory intent to provide increased penalties for each subsequent offense. In sum, the court found that even if the defendant was not properly advised of the penalties of a third DWI offense at the time of his 2012 plea hearing, he could not avoid the penalties for his current crime.
Speak to an Assertive New Jersey DWI Defense Attorney
A conviction for a third offense DWI can lead to jail time and other substantial penalties, but in some cases, a defendant may be able to prove that an earlier conviction should be vacated. If you are charged with a third offense DWI, you should meet with an attorney to discuss your options. The assertive New Jersey DWI defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall have the skills and experience needed to obtain favorable outcomes, and, if you hire us, we will fight tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact us through our online form or at 877-450-8301 to set up a meeting.