A New Jersey appellate court has ruled that having to plead guilty to two offenses based on the same evidence does constitute a violation of a defendant’s double jeopardy protections.
The case, State vs. Donald Hand, involves an incident on December 18th, 2007. Hand had consumed vodka and drove into a field, crashing into a tree and several other objects. He was arrested. In April 2008, he pleaded guilty in a New Jersey Superior Court to a fourth-degree charge of creating a widespread risk of injury or death. He was then sentenced to 365 days of imprisonment.
In November 2008, he pleaded guilty to charges of DWI and reckless driving in the Lower Cape May Township municipal court. For this, he was sentenced to six months in prison and a 10-year revocation of his driving license.
Hand appealed against the double convictions, stating that these violated double jeopardy protections because both of the convictions were based on the same evidence. Under the same evidence test in New Jersey, a defendant cannot be convicted of two crimes if the evidence necessary to prove the crimes is the same.
The Appellate Division of the Superior Court has now ruled that the guilty pleas did, in fact, violate Hand’s right against double jeopardy.
This holiday season, New Jersey motorists are likely to come across more officers on the streets, as local law enforcement agencies conduct their annual holiday crackdowns against DUI. A New Jersey DUI conviction can mean fines, license suspensions and a DUI on your record. If you have been charged with DUI, speak with an experienced New Jersey DUI attorney at Helmer Paul Conley Kasselman.