It has been a custom is many municipal courts in New Jersey for the judge to turn to the defendant at the time of sentencing and ask the defendant as to his prior driving history.
This often occurs in the context DWI sentences, in which the prosecutor will inform the court that a search of the defendant’s abstract does not reveal any prior driving while intoxicated offenses. Often the court will than turn to the defendant, whose represented by counsel, rather that is correct, and whether the defendant has been convicted of any DWI offenses in this or any other state.
I am surprised that in many cases the defense attorney does sits quite without objecting to this line of questioning by the judge. The defendant at the time of sentencing does not give up his 5th amendment right to remain silent. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2B:25-5.1 it is the prosecutor’s obligation to research the defendant’s prior driving record and report that information to the court. Neither, defense counsel, or the defendant has any obligation to waive his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, or for the attorney to violate his attorney client privilege with his client to the court.
This blog is prepared as a public service by the Law Office of Vincent J. Sanzone, Jr., Esq., and is not intended to provide any specific legal opinion or advice to anyone reading this blog.
P.O. Box 261
277 North Broad Street
Elizabeth, N.J. 07207
“If you want peace work for justice.”