The Right to a Speedy Trial in the State of New Jersey
In New Jersey as in the entire United States, every individual has the right to a fair and speedy trial, under the sixth amendment of the United States Constitution.
This right applies to all defendants accused of a crime and is no different for those accused of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI). Because a criminal defendant’s rights are protected under the US Constitution, violation of these rights could lead to the dismissal of the charge against the defendant. This was recently displayed in a DUI case in which the defendant had to wait nearly two years from the time of her arrest to her trial. Read on to learn more about the specifics of this incident, and what you can do to ensure a speedy trial if you have been arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol on New Jersey’s roadways.
What is an Arraignment Hearing?
When the defendant was arrested in July 2016 for driving while intoxicated, she waived her right to an arraignment hearing. An arraignment is a hearing in which the court formally charges a person, explaining to the defendant what law or laws they have been accused of violating. Then, the initial court hearing was also waived by her attorney, and the hearing originally scheduled just a month after her arrest was rescheduled for September, two months later. Ultimately, a trial was scheduled for February and then July of the next year, because that was the next available trial date. When the defendant’s attorney filed a motion to dismiss the case because of lack of prosecution, the motion was denied.
Eventually, she entered a conditional plea of guilty in April of 2018, a few months shy of two years following her arrest. At this point, the defendant appealed the denial of her motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that her right to a speedy trial had been violated. Could the defendant argue this, given that her attorney had waived rights to numerous hearings and court dates? Well, she could argue this, and she did, but the court ruled that the state had not violated her rights, as she failed to submit this motion to the courts within the 20-day period required for such a motion.
The Speedy Trial Clause
In this case and in precedent, a court will only reverse a denial of a motion for dismissal of a case due to violation of the right to a speedy trial when there has been a legal error at the heart of the motion. In order to determine legal error, a court applies the Speedy Trial Clause, a four-part test developed as a result of a 1972 US Supreme Court case regarding violation of the Constitutional right to a speedy trial.
Under the Speedy Trial Clause, the court determines the length of the delay, the reasons for the delay, the defendant’s assertion of their right to a fair and speedy trial, and the prejudice against the defendant as a result of the delay. Such determinations are made on a case-by-case basis.
Benefits of a Skilled DUI Attorney
Whether or not your rights to a speedy trial have been violated, it is essential to have the support of a skilled and experienced DUI or criminal defense attorney on your side when you are arrested for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Whether this is your first or a repeat offense, a skilled attorney can ensure that your rights are protected, and you face the least amount of penalty that can justly be argued.
Because the stakes are high – a DUI conviction can lead to the suspension of your driver’s license for up to 8 years for a repeat offense, it can require the completion of hundreds of community service hours, and can result in jail time as well – it’s imperative that you have experienced support by your side. DUIs remain on your record and can affect your capacity for employment in the future and your future driving privileges. There are a myriad of nuances that come with a DUI arrest or any criminal charge for that matter, and ensuring the constitutional right of a fair and speedy trial is just the beginning of having your rights represented and protected. A criminal defense lawyer is equipped to support you in this way and get you back into the full swing of your life swiftly and securely.
Contact our Municipal Court Attorney for a consultation today
To ensure that you navigate the criminal defense system effectively and ensure that your right to a speedy trial is met, it is imperative that you seek the support of a qualified criminal defense attorney.
If you have been arrested for a DUI or other criminal offense, we are on your side.
At Law Offices of Edward S. Cooper, Esq, we successfully represent clients in Westfield, Elizabeth, Union, Linden, and the greater Union County area.