Do Most Clients Have A Misunderstanding Of What A DUI Trial Will Actually Consist Of?
I believe most people understand what a DUI trial or criminal defense trial consists of, because they’ve either been jurors, have known people who went through the procedures, have watched a lot of TV, and most learn in school. However, I walk all my clients through the process and ensure they truly understand every step of the court and DMV cases.
The first court appearance is called an arraignment, which is where I enter a plea of not guilty for my client. Unless we waive time, trial will occur within 45 days. Unless a client is in custody, it is usually beneficial to us to waive time instead of asserting our speedy trial right. By waiving time, the trial will not happen for many months or sometimes even a year or two later. This gives us time to consider all options, and for the client to make an informed decision. It is important to me that the client always understands what is going on, and I am always happy to explain. Most DUI cases do not end up in a jury or bench trial. The final decision on going to trial is up to the client.
How Does A Jury Trial Work?
Once a decision has been made to go to a jury trial, there’ll be a court appearance, for which the court will usually want the client to appear, where the date for trial will get confirmed. Once the trial starts, the first things that we discuss are motions in limine, which are basically ground rules for the trial. Motions in limine determine whether there is any evidence or other information that will not be admissible during the trial, along with other rules. Sometimes this process takes just a few hours, but sometimes it can take days.
Next, there is jury selection, where a panel of about 60 people will be brought in through jury duty and be asked a lot of questions to determine who will be picked for the jury. After the jury is picked, both sides have a chance to present opening statements. Then, each side has the opportunity to present their case, which usually includes bringing in witnesses. The prosecution goes first, and typically brings in witnesses like cops, toxicologists, the phlebotomist (if the defendant had a blood test for BAC), and any other experts they choose to present.
Those witnesses will undergo questioning by the attorney who called them up, and then the other attorney will have a chance to cross-examine them. Once the prosecution has finished calling all their witnesses, the defense may call theirs, if they decide to do so. If an attorney feels that the prosecution has not met their burden, then he or she may not call any witnesses.
When all evidence and witnesses have been presented, both sides finish with a closing argument, with the prosecution going first. Unfortunately, the prosecution has the opportunity to present an additional closing argument after the defendant’s attorney presents theirs.
DUI trials are an extensive and difficult process, but you have the right to one if you choose so.
For more information on Understanding A DUI Trial In Marin County, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (415) 523-7878 today.
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