State v. Bhavuk Uppal

A defendant’s mental health issues and substance abuse treatment are mitigating factors that can impact a sentence and often overlooked. In State v. Bhavuk Uppal, Docket No. A-4094-17T3 (App. Div. 2020), the defendant was sentenced to twenty-one years in prison, following his June 2016 guilty pleas to three counts of second-degree reckless death by a vehicle (vehicular homicide), N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5A, DWI, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50 and driving while suspended, N.J.S.A. 39:3-40. The Court (the NJ Appellate Division) affirmed (upheld) the sentence finding that the trial court adequately considered the mitigating and aggravating sentencing factors under N.J.S.A. 2C:44-1. Significantly, the Court said,“the defendant had not been receptive to substance abuse treatment and because he remains untreated, he poses a considerable risk to re-offend.”