The first thing that happens in a DUI trial is you are going to pick a jury. That can take a morning, or all day. It all depends upon the feeling of your jury pool. Once you have a jury, and seated, then the state presents their case. They are going to present evidence from whomever the officer was that saw the driving and the reason why they pulled them over. If there was a drug recognition expert, or what they call a drug recognition expert, they may also testify. Often times somebody who has been trained for DUIs will come and perform their field sobriety tests on our clients. If they do, then that person is going to have to testify.
If this was a blood case, meaning they drew blood, then they are going to have to bring in somebody who said that I drew the blood. Then they are going to have to bring in the criminalist that said I tested the blood and these were the results. Generally, that is a shortened version of what the state’s case looks like. Then there is a chance for the defense to put on their case. That can consist of our own defense expert in which we are combating the results of our test. There could have been errors with the movement of the blood, there could have been errors with how the blood was tested, there could have been errors with the machine that the blood was tested on, and if any of those presented themselves, then we want our experts to be able to testify to that.
If it is something like an actual physical control issue, where there is a question as to whether our client driving or not there may be other issues. The client himself has the constitutional right to either testify or not. Once the defense portion is done, the state gets to do a rebuttal, meaning they get one last chance to try to refute any evidence that the defense presented. At that point in time, closing arguments are made, and the jury is going to deliberate for an answer.
Do You Ever See Cases Where Police Officers Fail To Show Up For Any Part Of The Trial?
It is very rare, especially in DUI cases, that law enforcement will not show up. The officers are subpoenaed, which means they have a court order saying they have to show up. The cases where we might see an officer not show up for trial are some of the cases that are maybe a bit older, so something happened and maybe the case was not filed, or it was filed and somehow the client did not know and had a warrant for an extended period. If something like that happens, and an officer moves jurisdictions, then it could be possible that an officer is not going to show up. Usually what happens is we would know if something like that occurred ahead of time, and that could affect the negotiation process heavily.
Does Counseling Or Treatment Ever Help In Affecting The Outcome Of A Case?
Certainly, counseling, or treatment could affect any case. There are some programs, which can show that you have taken a front row seat to stop any sort of drinking. If this is a problem with alcoholism, we want to help our clients battle that first, because we have seen if they do not battle the underlying problem, they may end up with a DUI. We are trying to help them resolve their case. We do not want to have a call from them, saying, “I just got another DUI”, and that is the last thing that we want to see happen. When stuff like that happens, we want to show the prosecutor we are taking a head on approach to combat this and our clients are willing to receive treatment in order to help the negotiation process.
It is not going to affect the trial whatsoever, but it is definitely going to help with the negotiation process.
Are Most DUI Trials Jury Trials Or Bench Trials In Arizona?
In Arizona, DUIs are jury eligible trials. Therefore, unless a client says I do not want a jury, then all DUI trials are jury trials.
If Someone Goes To Trial And Is Convicted Is The Original Plea Offer Off The Table?
Most or all of the time, yes, if they are convicted, the original plea is now off the table. The plea offers are meant to be there to negotiate a case, and resolve it, without trial. What I can tell you is if a client has a first time DUI, and the offer is to plea to the charge, if that client is convicted, the state may ask for the same exact penalty they were asking for in the original plea agreement. If you do not take a plea agreement, they are just asking for the sentence to be the same. Usually the penalty is not worse than what was offered in the original deal. Sometimes, people say it is a trial tax, which means they give you an extra day or two for going to a trial, rather than a plea.
Our argument is always that a client should not be punished for practicing their constitutional rights to go to trial. Some factors come into play if the plea offer was one of the absolute minimums, and somebody was driving at 100 miles per hour, and that is why they were pulled over, and issued a DUI. An officer or court may look at that, and say you are convicted of a DUI. In addition, speeding is considered an aggravating factor. Most of the time we do not typically think they are going to be worse. There are always some aggravating factors, and that is what we go over with our clients, and make sure that they understand if they go to trial, what a likely outcome is, or what is a worst case scenario.
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