In some cases, the prosecution will try to use witness statements to convict suspects of drunk driving. If so, you need an experienced New Jersey DWI attorney who can defend against a DWI witness. A trial judge allowing witness statements to be used against you in a DWI trial may be violating both the hearsay rules of evidence and your right to confront the witnesses against you. If you think this may be an issue in your case, call The Law Offices of Anthony J. Vecchio today to speak with an experienced DWI defense lawyer.
It is possible that evidence brought against a defendant of a DWI may be deemed inadmissible under the Hearsay Rule. At its core, the Hearsay Rule means that testimony or documents quoting someone not present in court cannot be used against a defendant.
Read on to learn more about a DUI defense based on the Hearsay Rule. If this doesn’t sound like it applies to your case, review the Related Information links to your right to learn more about other DUI offenses.
The Clause principally addresses the concern that a defendant has a right to a face-to-face confrontation of the witnesses against him and has a right to conduct cross-examination of those witnesses. State v. Benitez, 360 N.J. Super. 101, 119 (App. Div. 2003).
It is well-settled that the hearsay rule is not violated when a police officer explains the reason he approached a suspect or went to the scene of the crime by stating that he did so “upon information received.” State v. Bankston, 63 N.J. 263, 268-69 (1973). Such testimony has been held to be admissible to show that the officer was not acting in an arbitrary manner. Ibid. However, when the officer becomes more specific by repeating what some other person told him concerning a crime by the accused the testimony violates the hearsay rule. Golub v. United States, 404 U.S. 880, 92 S. Ct. 213, 30 L. Ed. 2d 161 (1971). Moreover, the admission of such testimony violates the accused’s Sixth Amendment right to be confronted by the witnesses against him. Bankston, supra, 63 N.J. at 268-69.
In State v. Alston, a jury found defendants guilty of aggravated manslaughter and weapons offenses. 312 N.J. Super. 102 (App. Div. 1998). At one point in the homicide investigation, an anonymous call identified defendants as suspects in the killing. On appeal, the court reversed the convictions. The court held that the detective’s testimony as to the substance of the anonymous phone call was inadmissible hearsay that violated the defendants’ right under U.S. Const. amend. VI to be confronted by the witnesses against them. Id. at 112.
Citizens of the United States are afforded the right to confront their witness or accuser in order to reduce the chance that witnesses are lying or providing misleading information.
While the right to confront a witness is guaranteed in the 6th amendment, it is important for rulings to have a precedent, or a case where the law is interpreted and upheld in a specific way. Following are some benchmark cases that may set a precedent for a DWI defense if your right to confront a witness is infringed on.
From the case of State v. King, we can see the Constitution of the United States’ Sixth Amendment’s right to cross-examine a witness being upheld at the state level in New Jersey.
In the case of Pointer v. Texas, the court again upheld the Sixth Amendment, this time citing the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States. The Fourteenth Amendment states that, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
DWI Prosecutions based on hearsay can provide opportunity for a strong defense for your case. Contact Anthony J. Vecchio, DWI attorney based in Freehold, New Jersey today to discuss your case.
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