Court Discusses What Constitutes a Violation of a New Jersey DWI Defendant’s Right to a Speedy Trial

A person charged with a DWI has the right to a prompt resolution of his or her case. Thus, if the State unjustly delays prosecution of a case, it may result in a dismissal. A DWI defendant seeking dismissal of his or her charges due to a delay must prove certain criteria, however. In a recent case, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey examined the factors assessed in evaluating whether a DWI defendant’s constitutional right to a speedy trial has been violated. If you are faced with charges of a DWI offense, it is prudent to consult a seasoned attorney to discuss your rights and your options for seeking a favorable result.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

A police officer stopped the defendant for failing to stay within the lines of the road. When the officer approached the defendant’s vehicle, he noted an odor of alcohol emanating from the vehicle and from the defendant’s breath. The defendant underwent a series of field sobriety tests, which he was unable to perform. He was arrested for DWI, and he agreed to submit to a breath test, but he did not produce enough breath for the police to obtain an accurate reading. He was charged with DWI and numerous other charges.

In October 2016, the defendant pleaded not guilty and demanded a speedy trial. The trial was continually delayed, however. The defendant filed multiple motions to dismiss on the ground that his right to a speedy trial was violated, but the motions were denied. Then, in 2018, the defendant filed a conditional guilty plea to the DWI charge, and the remaining charges were dismissed. The defendant then appealed the denial of his motion to dismiss to the law division. The law division affirmed, and the defendant appealed to the Superior Court.

Determining Whether a Defendant’s Rights Have Been Violated

The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution affords defendants the right to a speedy trial. When a defendant alleges that his speedy trial rights have been violated, the court assesses four factors:  the duration of the delay, the cause of the delay, whether and how the defendant asserted his or her right to a speedy trial, and whether the defendant suffered prejudice as a result of the delay. In assessing an alleged delay, no single factor is determinative on the issue of whether the defendant’s right to a speedy trial has been violated. Instead, the factors are inter-related, and each case must be assessed individually.

In the subject case, the court found that the delays were attributable to both the defendant and the prosecution. While the defendant asserted his right to a speedy trial, the court found that he did not suffer any prejudice as a result of the delays. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court’s ruling.

Speak with a Proficient DWI Defense Attorney

If you reside in New Jersey and are facing penalties for DWI, it is advisable to speak with a proficient New Jersey DWI attorney to discuss your case and the steps that you can take to seek a favorable outcome. The diligent attorneys at the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall have the skills and experience needed to obtain a successful result and will advocate aggressively on your behalf. We can be reached through our form online or at 877-450-8301 to schedule a free and confidential meeting.