WHY THE PROSECUTOR CAN’T JUST DISMISS OR DOWNGRADE YOUR DWI OR DRUG CHARGES
Updated: Nov 26, 2019
Penalties for DWI and drug charges are serious. You can lose your motor vehicle privileges, get hit with extensive fines and there are collateral consequences, such as increased insurance rates with DWIs. In the good old days (prior to me practicing) charges such as these were commonly downgraded. A DWI could be amended to a reckless driving ticket or a drug charge could be amended to a municipal ordinance. Now, however, municipal prosecutors are required to follow the Guidelines for Operation of Plea Agreements in the Municipal Courts (Appendix to Part 7 of the Rules Governing the Courts of the State of New Jersey). Guideline 4 – Limitations, states “No plea agreements whatsoever will be allowed in drunken driving or certain drug offenses. Those offenses are: A. Driving while under the influence of liquor or drugs (N.J.S.A. 39:4-50) and B. Possession of marijuana or hashish (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10a(4)), being under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance or its analog (N.J.S.A. 2C:35-10b), and use, possession or intent to use or possess drug paraphernalia, etc. (N.J.S.A. 2C:36-2).” The comments to these Guidelines states, however, “Plea agreements are to be distinguished from the discretion of a prosecutor to charge or unilaterally move to dismiss, amend or otherwise dispose of a matter. It is recognized that it is not the municipal prosecutor's function merely to seek convictions in all cases. The
prosecutor is not an ordinary advocate. Rather, the prosecutor has an obligation to defendants, the State and the public to see that justice is done and truth is revealed in each individual case. The goal should be to achieve individual justice in individual cases.” This means that, if your attorney is able to point out defenses, such as a lack of laboratory reports in drug cases, or failure to comply with the requirements of State v. Chun, 194 N.J. 54 (2008), in DWI cases, then the prosecutor would have the ability to downgrade or even dismiss such a case.
If you or someone you know has a serious municipal court matter, have them call the office at 732 750 4600 to set up an appointment.