In New Jersey, people who have been charged with driving under the influence of mind-altering drugs or alcohol do not get a trial by jury to determine their fate. Instead, these drivers receive a trial in a municipal court, where only a judge is present to hear the facts of the case, the driver’s confession or not-guilty plea, and determine the driver’s guilt. This process has its ups and downs, and drivers within the state should be aware of what may happen if they face a drunk driving charge, Morristown County DUI/DWI lawyers say.
At a municipal appeal, a person may challenge a municipal court conviction for drunk driving by taking it to a higher court, the Superior Court of New Jersey. Such an appeal is known as a “de novo appeal,” because the judge considering the appeal gives no special deference to the rulings of the municipal court judge except with respect to the issue of the credibility of witnesses. At a de novo appeal, the driver has a chance to ask for a second opinion, based on the facts of the case and his or her own personal testimony.
When considering a municipal appeal, a Superior Court judge will review the official transcripts from the original trial, and the defendant’s Morristown County DWI lawyer will present any additional arguments regarding the driver’s innocence. Lawyers from the prosecutor’s office that filed the original drunk driving charge can also present their arguments, including testimony from the arresting officers.
This de novo appeal provides a convicted driver with a second chance at pleading his or her case. For drivers with more than one standing drunk driving conviction, an appeal could help them avoid the harsher penalties assigned to repeat DUI/DWI lawyers in New Jersey. Second, third, and subsequent drunk driving charges can land you in jail; and you may be forced to pay high fines and surrender your license for an extended period of time.
Even if you cannot get the charges for your drunk driving conviction reversed, you may be able to appeal a harsh sentence and have your fine or jail time reduced. An experienced Morristown County DWI lawyer can help you present the case to the appellate judge and have your conviction reconsidered. In these cases, an appellate judge will review the first case, and determine whether the original sentence was too severe for the circumstances, or hear alternate options for sentencing.
At the Gorman Law Firm, our DWI lawyers represent clients in Morristown County and the surrounding areas who have been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, either at their first trials or on appeal. If you have a drunk driving charge pending, or already existing on your permanent record, contact Scott Gorman to discuss the options available to you today.
Published in Categories: DUI / DWI