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Woman claims she didn't understand DUI charges

People from New Jersey and other states are watching as a Florida woman who, now 30, is requesting a jury trial and wants to renounce her no contest plea in a case that involved the death of a military man. She received a sentence of 25 years in prison after the soldier was killed in an auto accident. In addition, she was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay restitution of $70,000 to the man's family.

A Lee County judge will determine if she will receive a new trial. Her lawyer claims that the defendant involuntarily entered the plea agreement because her previous attorney did not properly perform his job. The lawyer added that she didn't understand what she was pleading to and that her case placed her in double jeopardy. She originally pled no contest to eight separate offenses, including DUI manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident with death.

In Dec. 2007, the woman was drinking when she allegedly hit a car driven by the man who was killed in the accident. His wife, a passenger, was seriously injured. Tests showed her blood-alcohol level registered .089 percent, just over the legal limit of .08 percent. In addition, marijuana and other drugs were found in her system.

The defendant apologized to the man's wife and said that when she left the accident scene she didn't realize that anyone else was hurt. She is now attending church and plans to pay restitution when she gets out of prison. She also wants to work with young people and point them toward the right path.

When a defendant is not clear on the charges or the plea agreement involved, the courts could find that they have the right to a new trial. A criminal defense attorney might be able to help protect the rights of their clients.

Source: News-Press, "Fort Myers woman seeks new trial in DUI manslaughter case", June 20, 2013

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