DWI Plea Withdrawl Based on 4 Slater Factors – State v. Mustaro

[12/14/09 – 4:51 pm] In this morning’s Appellate Division decision in State v. Mustaro, the Appellate Division ruled that a motion by a defendant to withdraw a guilty plea following imposition of sentence in a DWI case must be predicated upon correcting a manifest injustice and should generally conform to the 4 balancing factors established by the Supreme Court in State v. Slater, 198 N.J. 145 (2009). Those factors include:

(1) whether the defendant has asserted a colorable claim of innocence;

(2) the nature and strength of defendant’s reasons for withdrawal;

(3) the existence of a plea bargain; and

(4) whether withdrawal would result in unfair prejudice to the State or unfair advantage to the accused.”
In Mustaro, the defendant moved to vacate his post-sentencing plea on the basis that he had been deprived of potentially exculpatory evidence in the form of a police car videotape which would have proved he was not operating his vehicle at the time of his motor vehicle stop. The police had destroyed the videotape as a matter of routine after the defendant’s initial plea of guilty. In analyzing the Slater factors, the Court ruled that the lack of bad faith by the police in destroying the video, coupled with the speculative nature of the defendant’s claim of what was shown the video did not satisfy the test for withdrawal of a guilty plea.

Download a copy of State v. Mustaro.

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