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Court Rules Proof of Uncounseled Prior DWI Conviction Necessary To Avoid Enhanced Sentencing

July 29, 2011 | Posted In Recent News - Criminal Law

A New Jersey resident, who had been depending on an earlier Supreme Court decision that held that unrepresented counsel in an earlier DUI conviction could not be used to enhance the sentence for a subsequent offense, has had his appeal rejected. 

In State vs Weil, the defendant had been charged as a repeat offender, and moved that he should not be eligible for increased sentencing because he had not been represented by counsel during the early conviction.  A state appeals court had ruled that a New Jersey DWI suspect must prove that he or she was not represented by counsel at the time of the prior conviction to be eligible for the reduced incarceration.  A certification stating that the person was not represented by counsel at the time of the prior conviction is not enough. 

In New Jersey, repeat offenders are eligible for enhanced incarceration.  However, in State vs Laurick, the Supreme Court had ruled that a person, who had not been represented by counsel during a prior DWI conviction, was not eligible for enhanced incarceration after being convicted for DWI again.

Under New Jersey DWI laws, persons convicted of repeat offenses may be eligible for increased penalties.  A person convicted of a second offense within 10 years of the first DWI may be eligible for a license suspension of two years, imprisonment for between 48 hours and 90 days, community service and increased fines and penalties.  For the third DWI, the punishments range from loss of license for 10 years, a 180-day prison sentence, and up to 90 days of community service in addition to increased fines and penalties.  These people may also be required to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles.

The New Jersey DUI Lawyers at Helmer Paul Conley and Kasselman represent persons charged with DUI across New Jersey. They also have extensive experience with criminal appeals and work to ensure your rights are protected.

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