Grounds for Appeal in New Jersey DWI Cases

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense under New Jersey law. A conviction can result in a fine, driver’s license suspension, jail time, and other penalties, depending on various factors. DWI attorneys work hard to make sure the state follows the law and respects their clients’ rights. If a case goes to trial, and the court convicts the defendant of DWI, they may still be able to keep fighting the charges by filing an appeal. New Jersey law requires a defendant appealing a DWI conviction, also known as the “appellant,” to cite specific grounds for the appeal. It is not enough that the appellant is not happy with the outcome of the trial. They must show that the court made an error, or that the process was flawed.

Appeals Based on the Evidence

In any DWI case, the prosecution has the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the strictest burden of proof in our legal system. A prosecutor’s job is supposed to be difficult, since success for a prosecutor could mean a loss of freedom for a defendant.

A DWI appellant can argue that the state did not produce enough evidence to support a guilty verdict. Prosecutors must have evidence of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt for every element of the offense. A Law Division court, which hears appeals of DWI verdicts from municipal courts, could find that the state’s evidence was insufficient to meet the prosecutor’s burden of proof.

An appellant could also claim that the verdict was based on materials or information that should not have been admitted into evidence. The New Jersey Rules of Evidence set strict standards for the kinds of evidence courts may consider. Evidence that does not meet these standards could be a ground for appeal.

Appeals Based on Procedure

Courts must follow specific procedures at all stages of a DWI case. If a court does not do so, this could give the appellant a valid basis for appealing a guilty verdict.

For example, state law and court rules require municipal judges to ask defendants a series of questions before accepting a guilty plea. The questions are intended to confirm that the defendant understands the nature of the charges against them and the consequences of pleading guilty. If a judge does not follow these procedures, an appellant could argue that the guilty plea is invalid under the law.

Appeals Based on Constitutional Rights

This kind of appeal can overlap with the other kinds, since a defendant’s constitutional rights are central to everything that happens in a trial. Examples of constitutional claims on appeal include:
– Evidence was obtained in violation of the appellant’s Fourth Amendment rights, and therefore should not have been admitted at trial;
– Police did not properly advise the appellant of their Miranda rights in violation of the Fifth Amendment; or
– The appellant did not receive a speedy trial, as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment.

DWI lawyer Evan Levow represents people in New Jersey who are facing alleged DWI charges. He can guide you through the court process, discuss your rights and options, and advocate for you in court. Please contact us today online or at (877) 593-1717 to schedule a free and confidential consultation to see how we can help you.

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