The attorney for a man convicted of a fatal DWI – DUI in Belmar this summer appealed to a Superior Court Judge in Freehold this week to reverse the 30-day jail sentence his client received. A Belmar Municipal Court Judge ordered the 30-day sentence, which was upheld on appeal this week in Monmouth County Superior Court in Freehold.
It was argued that the sentence was excessive given the defendant’s lack of any prior criminal record, DWI – DUI or even a traffic ticket in the past 25 years. The family of the victim, Christopher Nowak, 22 of Staten Island, disagreed.
“He deserved more than that,” the victim’s father said. “But under the circumstances, that’s all that we could have hoped for.” “At least he got the 30 days,” said the victim’s mother. “This is the best … New Jersey can do for us.”
The defendant, 54 year-old Mark Rich of Neptune, was convicted of slamming his Corvette into the victim on Rt. 35 in Belmar and then continuing to drive for nearly a mile with the victim’s 6-2” body trapped in the front windshield of the car. The driver had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .115, well over the legal limit of .08
Rich said he believed the man he struck was a seagull, despite the victim being over six feet tall and 220 pounds. However, there is more to the story – the victim’s own BAC was over.26 and he was found to have cocaine in his system. Just moments before the accident, the victim emerged from a taxi and began staggering across Rt. 35 with dark clothes on before being struck by Rich’s car.
Rich was initially charged with second-degree vehicular manslaughter, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. However, a Monmouth County Grand Jury did not return an indictment and the case was remanded to Belmar Municipal Court.
A DWI – DUI is a very serious matter. However, with the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney there are usually ways to fight the charge or mitigate its consequences. By simply pleading “Guilty” or representing yourself, you may be at a severe disadvantage.
DWI – DUI penalties are severe, and include the loss of driving privileges, substantial fines and other penalties. Your car insurance rating and premium may be significantly affected, costing you thousands of dollars. If you have been charged or convicted of a DWI – DUI, contact an experienced Freehold DWI – DUI lawyer.