Discovery is a critical part of any DWI case, as it allows the defendant to determine what evidence the state seeks to introduce at trial and helps prepare defenses to refute the implications of that evidence. Thus, if the state commits a discovery violation, it may greatly impact a defendant’s rights. In a recent New Jersey DWI action, the court discussed what a defendant must demonstrate in order to prove that a discovery violation has occurred. If you are accused of a DWI crime in New Jersey, it is in your best interest to speak to a capable New Jersey DWI defense attorney to evaluate what arguments you may be able to assert.
Facts of the Case
It is alleged that the defendant was stopped after making an unsafe lane change without a turn signal. When the police officer spoke with the defendant, he smelled alcohol. As such, the officer asked the defendant to submit to field sobriety testing. The defendant complied but failed the tests. A breathalyzer test subsequently revealed his blood-alcohol level to be 0.11%. He was then charged with DWI and other traffic violations.
Reportedly, the defendant, who was self-represented, was involved in several disputes with the prosecution. Specifically, he argued that the state failed to provide him with the evidence he sought. A trial was held, and the defendant was convicted on all counts. He appealed, and his appeal was granted, after which a second trial occurred. He was convicted a second time and again appealed.
Demonstrating a Discovery Violation Has Occurred
On appeal, the defendant argued that the State violated his rights by failing to provide him with a copy of a ticket that he was allegedly issued for an unsafe lane change one hour prior to his arrest. Specifically, he argued that the State would not produce the evidence because the testimony of the officer that issued the ticket and footage from the officer’s dashboard camera could exonerate him.
The court rejected these arguments because the defendant admitted that he was never stopped by the officer in question and that the officer who stopped him was riding alone. Rather, the ticket was erroneously issued due to a clerical error.
The court further noted that although the defendant was aware of the second ticket, he did not seek the name of the officer that wrote the ticket or the ticket itself via discovery. The court held, then that a defendant cannot remain silent at a municipal court proceeding regarding a discovery violation of which he is aware to strategically argue the violation at a trial de novo. Thus, the lower court ruling was affirmed.
Meet with a Seasoned New Jersey DWI Defense Attorney
If you are accused of a third DWI offense in New Jersey, it is prudent to meet with an attorney to discuss what evidence the State must produce to demonstrate your guilt. The seasoned New Jersey DWI defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall have the knowledge and experience needed to obtain favorable results and we will work diligently to help you seek to retain your rights. We can be reached through our online form or at 877-450-8301 to set up a conference.