Muni-mail Practice Pointer: Factors to consider in traffic sentencing

 As a public service, beginning today, from time to time, muni-mail will present you with certain advanced practice pointers that will be of help to those who practice in the municipal courts of our state.
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Rule 7:9-1(c) which was adopted by the Supreme Court on September 1st, requires that In non-criminal code cases involving a consequence of magnitude, at the time the sentence is imposed, the court state its reasons for imposing sentence, including the findings for withholding or imposing imprisonment, driver’s license suspension, fines, or restitution.

Those findings are based upon a series of aggravating and mitigating factors that are set forth in State v. Moran, 202 NJ 311, 328-329 (2010). Here is a list of those factors from the case.

Moran Aggravating/Mitigating Factors:

1. The driving conduct posed a high risk of danger to the public;
2. The driving conduct caused physical harm or property damage;
3. The defendant’s driving record, including the defendant’s age and length of time as a licensed driver,
4. The number, seriousness, and frequency of prior infractions;
5. Has the defendant was infraction-free for a substantial period before the most recent violation?
6. The nature and extent of the defendant’s driving record indicates that there is a substantial risk that he or she will commit another violation;
7. The character and attitude of the defendant indicate that he or she is likely or unlikely to commit another violation;
8. The defendant’s conduct was the result of circumstances unlikely to recur;
9. A license suspension would cause excessive hardship to the defendant and/or dependants;
10. Any other relevant factor clearly identified by the court may be considered as well.

In evaluating these factors (which apply both in municipal and the Superior Courts), it is not necessarily the number of factors that apply but the weight to be attributed to a factor or factors.
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It is probably a good idea to print out and keep a list of these factors available for easy reference during a traffic sentence that will involve a consequence of magnitude.

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