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The consequences are so severe that I am astounded when someone choose to plead guilty without even consulting with an attorney who specializes in DUI defense. You shouldn’t go to a general attorney (someone who professes to solve your every legal need), DUI defense takes a lot of knowledge not just of the court process, but of the science, and defense techniques if you want to avoid a conviction. As I explained in a prior article, bad advice can be worse than no advice.Your attorney will be able to guide you through the process.
- Within days of the arrest, you will be arraigned. This is where you appear in court and informed of your offenses and will be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Arraignment can be a difficult and stressful time, but it can be avoided in most circumstances if you have an attorney.
- You will then be told to appear at a pre-trial conference. If you have an attorney, he or she will have ordered your discovery and will discuss it with the prosecutor. If you don’t have an attorney, this is where you normally plead guilty or the case get set for trial.
- Since discovery is rarely provided in its entirety on the first request, your attorney will likely have to file a discovery motion. This is where you may also consider post-conviction relief. In other words, if you are facing a second or greater conviction, you may look to reopen a prior conviction. The penalties for a second or third DUI are severe so every decision must be carefully made.
- Once any discovery motions are addressed and discovery is complete, now is the time to consider hiring experts, doctor, former police officer, or scientist to poke holes in the State’s case.
- The pre-trial motion and trial are important. New Jersey does not allow for jury trials in DUI matters. The case will instead be heard before a Municipal Court Judge. The prosecution’s burden at trial is to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and your attorney’s role (seemingly simple) is to create doubt. The court tries to schedule the trial within 60 days from the arrest, and if you don’t have an attorney that is likely what will happen.
- If you are convicted, you will be sentenced usually the same day for a DUI. Sentences may include jail time, loss of license, community service, alcohol awareness classes, installation of an ignition interlock device, and fines.
- You have 20 days to appeal the Municipal Court Judge’s decision to the Law Division of the Superior Court of the county where the conviction occurred.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can do this on your own, and avoid a conviction.
Charged with a DUI/DWI? Learn your options before going to court.
- Arrested for Drunk Driving? Learn how to Beat the Odds – Want defense strategies? How about some common mistakes to avoid? Find out in this book;
- Why Pleading Guilty to Your New Jersey Traffic Ticket is NOT an Option – In this book, you will learn the court process in more detail. I also discuss a number of violations, not just DUI’s;
- An Immigrant’s Guide to Municipal Court. Not a U.S. citizen? Are you concerned about immigration consequences? You should be. Learn what to expect in municipal court and immigratoi court.
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