What happens in a DUI trial? Most DUI cases do not go very far in trial. Usually, a guilty verdict is made, and the case is turned over to sentencing. Other times, you might get a plea bargain with the prosecution, though these are rare in DUI cases.
It’s not just a guilty plea or a plea bargain because the defendant is always guilty. Just because most plea guilty to a DUI charge does not mean you have to. You have rights, and you’ll have your day in court. But what really happens?
First of all, this a criminal trial, and the penalties can lead to misdemeanor or felony charges. In criminal cases, a judge and jury can hear the case, though jury trials are less common in DUI cases. The prosecution – in other words the state prosecutor – will be trying to prove you are guilty of drinking and driving, or using substances and driving. You and your lawyer will be saying there is doubt in this case, that there should be no punishment or punishment should be limited.
You need a DUI lawyer unless you are a DUI lawyer yourself. Even if you are a lawyer, and have court room experience, DUI law is too complex to be done by yourself. You also have the option of using a court appointed attorney; unless you plan on pleading guilty, this is a bad option too.
The first step in the case is choosing a jury. You have a right to a jury, but in some cases you may prefer a judge; your lawyer can help with this situation.
Make sure your lawyer has court room experience. For one, both sides will be trying to choose a jury who will help their case; someone who was hit by drunk driver, for example, may not be the type of juror you want as a defendant.
Next you have the opening statements, witness testimony, and cross examination. Here your lawyer will earn his or her money, making the case that you are innocent, questioning things like the validity of the breathalyzer tests or the arresting officer’s conduct. A witness or expert can often make or break a case. In cases where something occurred upon the arrest which was wrong, a witness can be brought. If the BAC (blood alcohol content) test was questionably administer by the arresting officer, an expert may cast doubt on the charges.
After your lawyer makes his or her final argument, a jury will go into deliberation and decide whether you are guilty or not guilty, as well as what penalties you should face.
This process can sound like reading a different language. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as you see on TV, and unless your lawyer can prove your innocence clearly, most DUI charges lead to some penalties. That makes hiring the right lawyer very important.