New Jersey Court Discusses Prosecution of DWI Cases by Municipalities

In New Jersey, prosecutors are appointed by local governing bodies. Thus, if a person is charged with a DWI offense, an attorney appointed by the municipality will typically be tasked with presenting the State’s evidence against the defendant. Even if another attorney represents the State in criminal proceedings, however, it does not mean that a DWI defendant is entitled to a new trial, as demonstrated in a recent New Jersey opinion. If you are a resident of New Jersey currently charged with a DWI offense, it is in your best interest to meet with a proficient New Jersey DWI defense attorney to discuss your rights and what defenses you may be able to assert.

Factual and Procedural History

It is reported that the defendant was stopped in the early morning in May 2014 for driving erratically. After the officer who initiated the stop spoke with the defendant, he noticed the defendant was exhibiting signs of intoxication. Thus, the defendant was ultimately issued four summonses and charged with driving while intoxicated, speeding, failing to exhibit his registration and reckless driving. Subsequently, the defendant and the prosecution appeared in court together eight times over a period of a year nine months for hearings, arguments, and a partial trial.

Allegedly, on the second day of the trial, the defendant moved to dismiss his summonses, arguing that the individual that had been appointed as the municipal court prosecutor by the governing body had only appeared at one of the court proceedings. The defendant then entered into a conditional guilty plea to the DWI charge, and the remaining charges were dismissed. The court then denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss, which caused the defendant to file an appeal.

The State’s Duties in Prosecuting a Case

Under New Jersey law, every municipal court in the State must have a minimum of one municipal prosecutor that was appointed by the governing body of the municipality. The law also allows a municipality to appoint more than one prosecutor as needed to prosecute cases in municipal court. The court noted that the resolutions of the township where the defendant was prosecuted permitted the municipality to appoint a law firm to act on its behalf in prosecuting cases.

Pursuant to that resolution, the mayor entered into a contractual agreement with the law firm that employed the attorney who attended most of the hearings in the defendant’s case. Upon reviewing the applicable statutory language, the court found that this was permissible, and while the language of the resolution and the contract with the law firm was not entirely precise or clear, the intention of both was to allow attorneys of the law firm to prosecute cases on behalf of the municipality. As such, the court affirmed the denial of the defendant’s motion, finding that the relief he requested was unprecedented.

Meet with a Skilled New Jersey DWI Defense Attorney

If you are accused of a first DUI offense in New Jersey, it is prudent to meet with an attorney to assess whether you may be able to avoid a conviction. The skilled New Jersey DWI defense attorneys of The Law Offices of Jonathan F. Marshall possess the resources and knowledge to vigorously defend against criminal charges. If you engage our services, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. We can be reached through our form online or at 877-450-8301 to schedule a conference.

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