What Will Occur after a DUI Arrest in New Jersey?
Interviewer: Can you step through the basic events that will happen in a DUI case and when they’ll occur?
It Is Possible You Will Receive Multiple Tickets for Charges in Addition to the DUI
James Abate: The first thing that’s going to happen is when they’re released from the police station, they’re going to be given a series of tickets. Normally it’s going to be DUI, DWI, possibly a school zone charge, possibly having a child in the vehicle while you’ve been drinking.
Reckless driving is frequently also charged or careless driving, and then the ticket for which you’d been pulled over for, whether it’s speeding, whether it’s driving on an unmarked lane.
Your First Court Date Is the Arraignment
Then that is going to have a court date. Your first court date is an arraignment date. What happens on that date is that the judge tells you that you’re in trouble, what you’re facing, and that you’d better get a lawyer. He’s going to then give you time to go out and get a lawyer. If you’ve gotten a lawyer before the arraignment date, you may be able to avoid having to go down there, which is beneficial because it’s a very stressful encounter.
What Is the Evidence against You? Once You Retain an Attorney, He or She Will Request Discovery
After that happens and you’ve selected a lawyer, your lawyer’s going to file a notice of appearance, in some cases a waiver of the arraignment, and a request for discovery. That’s the most important thing. Among the items that we require in one of our requests for discovery in a DWI case can include the following: We’re going to request video. We’re going to request audio. We are going to make a demand for a jury trial.
Jury trials are rarely given on DUI cases in New Jersey, but we always request them. This is because if you are convicted in another state, that state may require a jury trial. If New Jersey didn’t give you a jury trial, you may be able to argue that they’re not entitled to treat it as a second offense. We’re going to move to suppress evidence. We are going to request statements, identification, recordings.
We are going to request any items or confessions that you gave, any grand jury proceedings, any scientific and medical tests, any records of conviction, and any other government evidence or books that the government wants to produce against you. We’re going to request witnesses, police reports, warrants. We’re going to ask for the experts that the State intends to rely upon. Then there’s going to be special discovery requests on the Alco test 7110.
We’re going to ask for breath logs. We’re going to ask for records showing that the Alco test was in proper working order. We’re going to ask for simulators, temperature probes, communications between the state police and Drager. We’re going to confirm that it’s using the proper firmware. Of course, we want to get the alcohol influence reports, and a number of scientific pieces of evidence.
As Your Attorney Reviews the Discovery, He or She Will Determine What Pieces of Evidence May be Weak, Incorrect or Illegally Obtained
Then the State will have time to respond to our requests. If the police do not produce everything we need, we’re going to be back in court again, requesting more evidence. We’re also going to be looking at the data downloads from the Alco test and evaluating the videos. At some point, we’ll be in a position to know generally what defenses are there, what evidence is weak, what evidence is strong.
Your Attorney May Recommend Using an Expert Witness
At that point, we will suggest to the client that we bring in an expert. In many cases, our experts were the State’s experts just a few years ago, and that gives them an awful lot of credibility. We have the access to the best experts.
At some point, the prosecutor is going to also know these things that we’ve communicated to them, and they’re going to make an offer on how they’d like to see the case resolved.
Most of the time, their offer includes you pleading guilty.
Which is why at that point we are going to request a trial, and then we’re going to get ready for trial. This could be five, six months, seven months down the line, and at this point, everybody starts preparing for trial. We prepare a lot more than the prosecutor does.
Is Your DUI Case Likely to Go to Trial?
Interviewer: What percentages of cases go to trial versus settles beforehand?
James Abate: I’ve seen statistics that 80% of the public cases are handled through a plea. I would say for us, it’s more like 30% of the cases are handled through a plea. Most of our cases go to trial. Statewide, 83% of DWI cases end up in a conviction.
For us, it’s a much lower percentage. I would say that we are able to obtain some relief for our clients in nearly every case we handle. In nearly every case we handle, they’re in a better position. But it’s really important when you’re making the decision on what lawyer you’re going to choose that you find someone who has the same objective you do.
It Is Important to Work with an Attorney Who Has the Same Objective That You Do
There are really three types of lawyers. There’s lawyers who try every single case regardless of what the State offer is. There are lawyers who plead out every single case no matter what the evidence is. Then there are lawyers who carefully evaluate the case and tailor it to their clients and their needs. That’s where we fall in. We look at the case. We try and evaluate what’s best for our client to do, and that’s the direction we go in.
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