You have just been arrested for DWI. You are embarrassed, frightened, and unsure what your immediate future holds. Many things will happen very quickly. First, you need to select an experienced and knowledgeable DWI defense attorney to assist you through these very difficult times. It is very comforting to have an attorney on your side that will answer all your questions, provide sound legal advice, and insure your rights are being protected.
This proceeding normally occurs at the next available court session after the date of your arrest. You are required to appear in court where you are informed of the charges and potential penalties in the event you are convicted. Typically, your attorney can waive this DUI arraignment hearing, or in the alternative, expedite your time in court for this proceeding.
PRE TRIAL STATUS CONFERENCE
These conferences are provided to allow both sides opportunities to have initial discussions about the case and to gather all the information about your case. Typically, unless a very favorable offer is presented, the case will be postponed to determine your best defenses and your potential need for expert witnesses.
In many cases, your attorney may receive documents and information (discovery) from the prosecutor that reveal your constitutional rights may have been violated. In that case, your attorney will file the appropriate pre-trial motion to argue those issues.
Currently, all DUI/DWI trials are heard by municipal court judges. Unlike many other states, New Jersey does not allow for jury trials in DWI cases. There is an administrative directive that DWI cases be completed within sixty (60) days of the arrest date. If issues are presented, this can and usually does extend the case beyond sixty (60) days.
COURT SENTENCING FOR DUI
The court imposes a sentence immediately after a plea is entered or a finding of guilt is made in a trial. Unlike Superior Court Criminal matters, you do not return at a later date to be sentenced. It is simultaneous sentencing. Depending upon your prior history and for fact pattern, sentencing exposure will include loss of driver’s license, state surcharges, fines, assessments, alcohol classes, community service, interlock device installation, and jail time.
FILING A DUI APPEAL
In New Jersey, if you are unsatisfied with the Judge’s ruling, you have twenty days to file an appeal in the Law Division of the Superior Court in the county where the Municipal Court conviction originated.