A Judge has reduced the sentence for a New Jersey man after a prior drunk driving charge was overturned. The man was originally sentenced to eight and a half years after pleading guilty in relation to an alcohol related accident that took the life of one of the passengers in his car.

The eight and a half year sentence was based, in part, on a prior conviction that the 24-year-old man had received when he was 19. With that conviction now overturned, the court resentenced the man last week, reducing his sentence to four years.

The accident for which the sentence was reduced occurred in April of 2009. The man and three friends had spent a night out in Atlantic City and were on their way home. On their way, the car veered off the road and struck a tree. A 24-year-old passenger in the car died in the crash. After the crash, police allege that testing showed the man was above the legal alcohol limit.

This summer however, the prior conviction that he had received when he was 19, was overturned based on a lack of evidence and insufficient testimony at trial.

News reports from the resentencing highlight the highly emotional nature of these types of matters. In this case, a fist fight actually broke out between the victim and suspect’s families during a recess in the proceedings. It is completely understandable that both the victim and suspect’s families would have strong feeling about this, but when a conviction that underlies an enhancement is overturned the law mandates that it can no longer be used to increase a sentence.

Source: South Jersey Local News “Tensions rise, fists fly at Mecchella’s resentencing hearing,” Dubravka Kolumbic, Oct. 18, 2011