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DUI defendant denied shortened sentence

A New Jersey judge has denied an application for a reduced sentence from a man who had been convicted of killing his fiancé in a drunk driving crash. The defendant had been attempting to appeal his seven-year prison sentence that had been handed down after the 2009 incident. Officials say the man was intoxicated when he wrecked his BMW on the way back from a dinner to celebrate the couple's engagement. The vehicle burst into flames and flipped over, killing the woman.

The 40-year-old driver's blood alcohol at the time of the wreck was determined to be 0.185 percent, a value more than twice the legal limit for driving in the state of New Jersey. The man had pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide, receiving a plea bargain during sentencing in October 2009. Still, the defendant chose to appeal his sentence, arguing that he had been coerced into an invalid plea agreement because of his previous attorney. The lawyer in that case told the man he would receive a five-year term, not a seven-year stint, according to official documents.

The defendant represented himself during the most recent proceeding. He argued that he had not only been deceived by previous counsel, but that his exemplary behavior during incarceration should be considered toward a sentence reduction. Even though the man officially represented himself, he was being advised by a defense attorney, who explained that the defendant has participated in educational and rehabilitative programs during his time in prison.

Even though the man's term will not be reduced, he will be eligible for parole in March 2015, so he may not be required to serve the entirety of the seven-year term.

Defendants who believe that they have been misled by their defense attorneys or criminal prosecutors have the right to contest agreements associated with their cases. It is possible for lawyers and other parties to make mistakes in connection with legal decisions, so it is critical for defendants to remain vigilant throughout the entirety of their criminal case. Qualified defense attorneys can help protect defendants' rights by seeking out errors, as well.

Source:, "Judge denies reduced sentence for former Bridgewater man in drunk driving crash that killed fianc?e" Bill Wichert, Oct. 04, 2013

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