Prior Refusal Enhances Subsequent Conviction – State v. Breslin

This morning’s Appellate Division decision in State v. Breslin resolves a legal issue related to sentencing in refusal cases. Historically, the majority of refusal cases in New Jersey that have resulted in convictions were decided in an era when the burden of proof in such cases was statutorily set at the civil standard of proof by preponderance of the evidence. Subsequently, in State v. Cummings, 184 N.J. 84 (2005) the Supreme Court “judicially amended” the statute to require proof beyond a reasonable doubt as a matter of constitutional law. The argument raised in Breslin is whether a prior conviction that was decided under the “civil standard of proof” can be used to enhance the sentence for a subsequent refusal conviction that was decided under the “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” standard. The court ruled that such a sentencing enhancement was perfectly appropriate and required by New Jersey law.

Download a copy of State v. Breslin

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