Facing a DUI charge in the state of New Jersey can be an overwhelming experience leaving you to wonder how you are going to navigate through the process ahead. You may have many concerns, including whether you will be able to retain your driver’s license, how you will be able to get to work and back home each day, when your case will go to trial, and what potential legal penalties you may be facing, including possible jail time. For these reasons alone, it is important to have an experienced Jersey City DUI lawyer on your side to vigorously represent your interests and fight for your rights.
If you have found yourself in trouble with a DUI charge in the state of New Jersey, you need highly skilled legal counsel to help you navigate through the process ahead in order to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. At Bhatt Law Group, our Jersey City DUI attorneys have the adept legal know-how and experience to deal with the prosecution effectively and fight for the reduction, or possible elimination of your charges.
Overview of a DUI Case in New Jersey Leading to Trial
Each DUI case has its unique set of circumstances. However, the legal process of how these cases are handled in the state of New Jersey is largely the same. New Jersey Court rules generally govern the entire process, from your initial charge to the point when your DUI case goes to trial.
Below is a brief step-by-step explanation of how a DUI case in New Jersey is handled.
Summons and Complaint
The very first order of business will be for the police officer who pulled you over to sign a summons and complaint against you. This is a piece of paper, i.e. a ticket, that states the charge against you. This ticket will also include the date you are required to appear in court. Your Jersey City DUI lawyer may decide to move this date forward in order to give time for full discovery to be made.
The next step in the process leading to trial is your arraignment, which is a largely a formal procedure in which the presiding Judge will advise you, the defendant, of your rights, obligations, and possible penalties associated with the DUI charge against you. If you already have legal representation prior to the arraignment, your lawyer can usually waive your appearance at this proceeding.
This is the setting in which you will enter a plea of either guilty or not guilty. If you are going to plead not guilty, it is important to make this plea through your attorney. It is here where you must also inform the court of your intention to take advantage of certain constitutional protections at trial – if you fail to do so at this stage, you may lose the opportunity to use those protections during a trial.
During the discovery stage, your attorney will review all documents produced by the State of New Jersey regarding your case. The prosecutor is the representative of the State in the DUI case against you, the defendant. Under the law, the State must give your lawyer all relevant material and evidence that the State has gathered against you.
This can include any and all:
- Police reports
- Video recordings of the sobriety tests and/or arrest
- Witness statements
- Audio recordings
- Scientific documents pertaining to the DUI breathalyzer machine
- Any other evidence produced by the State in your case
In addition, at this stage, your attorney will determine if your legal rights have been violated. For instance, if the police did not advise you of your right to an attorney before they questioned you about matters that could solicit a response from you that could make you appear guilty, they may have violated your Miranda rights. The answers you may have given to questions posed to you by one or more police officers under that scenario would not admissible as evidence at trial. As well, if your attorney finds that police did not have probable cause to pull you over, and if the court is convinced, your case could be thrown out due to a violation of your Fourth Amendment Constitutional Rights. This is why it is very important to have an adept and experienced Jersey City DUI lawyer working vigorously on your behalf.
Throughout your case, you and your lawyer will be required to attend several scheduled status conferences. This is where the municipal prosecutor and your DUI lawyer will meet talk about discovery or other issues. As well, at these conferences, your attorney and the prosecutor may meet and talk with the municipal Judge about your case.
It may become necessary at some point for your Jersey City DUI lawyer to file a pre-trial motion in the Municipal Court on your behalf. This motion is made by your attorney in order to seek some type of specific relief in your case. For instance, your attorney may file one or more motions that involve issues regarding suppression of evidence, production of discovery, or dismissing or prohibiting testimony. These motions are usually made orally before the court.
Based on the discovery documents, your attorney may ask the court to require the prosecutor or police to turn over documents the defense has not yet received. As well, if your attorney has determined from the documents that your constitutional rights have been infringed, your attorney may ask the court to bar certain statements you have made from admittance in your court case.
If your DUI case cannot be dismissed or resolved, it is at this stage that it will go to trial. Your trial will be held in the Municipal Court district in which your DUI ticket was issued. Your case will go before a single municipal court judge – there are no jury trials for DUI cases in New Jersey. The burden of proof will be on the State to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor will present evidence and possibly call witnesses for the State.
As well, your attorney will provide evidence and may introduce witness testimony in order to bolster your defense. The presiding Judge will listen to the evidence presented and make a determination of your guilt or innocence. If you are found guilty and convicted, you will have 20 days to appeal the decision of the court to a higher court.
Contact an Experienced Jersey City DUI Lawyer
If you have recently been charged with a DUI in New Jersey, don’t hesitate to speak with a highly skilled Jersey City DUI attorney from our team at Bhatt Law Group. We can build the best possible defense on your behalf in order to fight for the best possible outcome in your case.
Call us today at (201) 798-8000 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation about your case.