New Jersey Court Discusses Establishing the Right to Post-Conviction Relief in DWI Cases

In many DWI cases, it is prudent for a defendant to enter into a plea agreement in hopes of receiving a lesser sentence. Typically, the court will go to great lengths to advise the defendant of the potential penalties associated with entering a guilty plea, to make sure the defendant is making a knowledgeable and informed decision. This is because if a defendant was not fully apprised of the potential consequences of pleading guilty prior to entering a plea, it can be grounds for vacating a conviction.  In a recent opinion, a New Jersey court discussed what a defendant seeking post-conviction relief in a DWI case must establish to vacate a guilty plea. If you live in New Jersey and are charged with a DWI offense, it is important to talk to a knowledgeable New Jersey DWI defense attorney to determine what penalties you may face.

Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that, following a police stop, the defendant was charged with numerous offenses, including driving while intoxicated (DWI). The defendant opted to enter into a plea agreement. Prior to the defendant entering his plea, the defendant’s attorney read him the plea form, and the trial judge asked him if he understood its terms. The defendant explained that he understood the mandatory fines and jail sentences for his DWI charge, that he could be sentenced to the maximum penalties, and that although he could request concurrent sentences, his request may be denied.

It is alleged that the defendant affirmed that no other representations or promises had been made to him by his attorney or any other person. After the defendant entered his guilty plea, he requested that his sentence be postponed for personal reasons. His request was denied, and he was sentenced to 180 days imprisonment for the DWI conviction and eight years imprisonment for other crimes. He then filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, arguing he was advised he would not face the maximum sentence and could serve a suspended sentence. The defendant filed numerous motions for post-conviction relief, which were denied. The defendant then filed a motion for post-conviction relief seven years after he was convicted. His motion was denied, and he appealed.

Establishing the Right to Post-Conviction Relief in DWI Cases

On appeal, the court noted that the defendant’s motion was barred by the statute of limitations. Specifically, the defendant was required to file his motion within five years and, and that he failed to show that excusable neglect caused his delay. Further, the court found that the lower court properly ruled that the defendant failed to show that he was entitled to post-conviction relief due to ineffective assistance of counsel. The court explained that the defendant was required to show the precise manner in which his lawyer’s assistance was defective and that the deficiency violated the defendant’s right to a fair trial. Here, the defendant argued that his attorney failed to advise him he may not be granted a suspended sentence. The court found that the record clearly refuted this allegation and affirmed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Trusted New Jersey DWI Defense Attorney

If you are accused of a DWI offense, you could be sentenced to jail time and face significant fines and should meet with a lawyer to determine your best plan of action. The trusted DWI defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall can discuss the potential New Jersey DWI penalties you may face and what measures you may be able to take to fight to protect your rights. You can reach us via our form online or by calling 877-450-8301 to set up a conference.

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