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Judge Accused of Abusing Power After Found Not Guilty on DUI Charge

After a video of the arrest was recently released to the public, a New Jersey judge who was detained for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol in 2016 and found not guilty is now facing accusations that he used his position of power to try to prevent officers from detaining him.

Near 2:00 a.m. on November 12, 2016, police discovered a BMW pulled to the side of the interstate with its emergency lights turned on. When they reached the driver’s window they found a man reportedly sleeping inside of the car.

It was discovered that the man inside the car was Wilfredo Benitez, a part-time municipal judge in three local counties. When officers believed that he was intoxicated and attempted to take him into custody for the alleged offense Benitez was recorded on video using foul language and asserting that he is a judge. The video also depicts Benitez telling one of the officers that he was wasting his time, and threatened to fight him.

In May of 2017, a Superior Court judge ruled that Benitez was not guilty of the alleged DUI charge.

Following Benitez’s acquittal, the Advisory Committee on Judicial Conduct filed an ethics complaint in January against his behavior toward the officers during his arrest and the belief that he attempted to use his position as a judge to try to obtain special treatment.

According to the official complaint, Benitez stated that he felt he was being treated like a common criminal during the arrest, and he apologized for using expletives toward the officer but asserted that he did not do anything wrong.

Benitez still remains in his position for which he was sworn-in for a three-year term in 2017, but he is prohibited from judging DWI cases at this time.

If you or someone you love is suspected of DUI/DWI, contact Orange County criminal defense lawyer Staycie R. Sena at (949) 477-8088 for a consultation now.

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