Here in New Jersey, being arrested for DWI or driving under the influence of alcohol is different from many states because Garden State motorists accused of impaired driving are not permitted a trial by jury. Instead, drivers who have been charged with DWI or drug DUI will get a court trial with only a judge to decide the defendant’s guilt or innocence. As with many aspects of the legal system, there are pluses and minuses associated with a non-jury trial.
As experienced DUI-DWI defense attorneys, my colleagues and I know that with the lack of a jury trial, a defendant who is found guilty by a New Jersey municipal court judge in a standard drunk driving trial will usually be able to challenge that decision in a high court under the legal concept known as a “de novo appeal.” In such instances, the de novo appeal for a New Jersey DWI conviction will usually be heard by a second, county level Superior Court judge.
Under our system of laws, an appeal is usually filed by one of the two parties following a particular legal outcome arrived at by either a judge or jury, and which typically seeks a formal change to an official court decision. In broad terms, in a typical de novo appeal, the judge will review the trial transcripts from the original hearing, as well as listen to additional arguments from the defendant’s lawyer and the attorneys from the prosecutor’s office that originally filed the charges against the motorist.
Another way of looking at the appeals process following a DWI or drug DUI conviction is that the motorist accused of the offense can seek a second chance to have his or her case reviewed and the original outcome possibly reversed or changed in some way. For New Jersey drivers who choose to retain an skilled drunk driving lawyer, the process can be made easier to go through, because legal experts like the attorneys at my law firm have years of experience in defending drivers charged with impaired operation of a motor vehicle.
For those who have been convicted of a DWI-DUI in the past, there may be more serious concerns, such as the potential for enhanced penalties, which can accompany a second or subsequent conviction. Consequences following a second or third drunk driving conviction can include jail time, as well as increased fines and other statutory assessments.
At the Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall, my legal staff will examine all the current legal allegations levied against a client, as well as consider the implications of any prior conviction to determine whether procedures and protocols were correctly followed. A qualified defense attorney can advise his or her client if an opportunity exists to reopen a prior conviction in order to reduce the penalty exposure presented in the most current case.
No matter what the situation, we recommend that individuals accused of intoxicated driving consider carefully the benefits of contacting a skilled DWI-DUI lawyer in the hopes that legal advice will help to reduce or eliminate the penalties of a possible conviction. Remember, a conviction is never a foregone conclusion when the law is concerned. Take the time to seek valuable legal advice and improve your chances of a good outcome.