Court Discusses the Right to Choose Counsel in New Jersey DWI Cases

In New Jersey, a conviction for a third DWI offense can carry significant penalties, including substantial fines and license suspensions lasting several years. Therefore, it is wise for anyone charged with a third DWI crime to exercise the right to retain a skilled lawyer who will present a compelling defense. The right to be represented by counsel of one’s choice is not an absolute privilege, however, and in some instances, it may be denied due to competing interests, as demonstrated in a recent New Jersey ruling. If you are accused of a third DWI crime, it is in your best interest to retain a New Jersey DWI defense lawyer as soon as possible to help you fight to protect your rights.

History of the Case

It is reported that the police responded to a report of a car accident. When they arrived at the scene, they saw tire marks on a driveway and grass, a tree that had been run over, and a license plate. They traced the license plate to the defendant and went to her address, where they found her sitting in her vehicle, with the engine running. When they spoke with her, they noted she smelled heavily of alcohol. She was unable to perform field sobriety testing and was arrested for DWI, which was her third offense, and other crimes.

Allegedly, the defendant asked to be represented by a public defender due to the fact that she had no income. Her request was granted, and a public defender was assigned. The defendant did not approve of the attorney, however, or the three subsequent attorneys she was assigned. Her case was delayed for over five months due to her attorney issues, and at her hearing, she requested an additional adjournment so she could retain private counsel. Her request was denied, and she was convicted, after which she appealed.

 A Defendant’s Right to an Attorney of Her Choosing

Criminal defendants are afforded the right to an attorney of their choosing by both the state and federal constitutions. The privilege is not absolute, however, as noted by the appellate court. Rather, a trial court retains broad latitude in determining an appropriate balance between the right to choose an attorney and the demands of the court calendar.

Balancing the competing interests requires a fact-sensitive inquiry, analyzing many factors, including the length of the delay, the number of continuances that have been requested and granted, whether the defendant caused the delay, and whether the defendant will suffer prejudice if the request is denied. In the subject case, the appellate court found that the trial court properly assessed the relevant factors and that the denial was appropriate and affirmed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Skillful New Jersey DWI Defense Attorney

A third DWI conviction can drastically alter a person’s rights and liberties, and it is critical for people accused of third-offense DWI in New Jersey to retain counsel who will fight zealously on their behalf. If you are charged with driving while intoxicated, the skillful New Jersey DWI defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can advise you of your rights and help you to pursue the best legal outcome possible under the circumstances. You can contact us at 877-450-8301 or through the form online to set up a conference.

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