The DUI Trial

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When you have been charged with a DUI, your DUI attorney Concord CA will tell you that you have the constitutional right to take your case to trial before a jury. If that is what you choose to do, you might wonder what you can expect at your trial. While every case is different, there are general things that happen in most DUI trials.


Since most DUI cases involve analysis of breath or blood results, you normally can expect that the prosecution will call an expert witness to the stand to testify about the testing process and results. Expert trial witnesses are those individuals who have specialized knowledge in a subject area that is beyond the knowledge commonly available to the general public. While DUI police officers receive training on DUI enforcement and are able to testify to that, most of them are not able to testify as experts regarding the way in which a breathalyzer machine arrives at its results or what affect alcohol or other substances actually have on individual peoples at various concentrations. Thus, the prosecution may have an expert witness testify in addition to the law enforcement officers involved. In order to attack what the prosecution's expert says, you will more than likely need to hire your own expert witness to review the results and testify on your behalf. While some people believe that an attorney may find problems in the prosecution expert's testimony through skilled cross-examination, most attorneys will recommend that you bring in your own expert for greatest effect. If you plan to attack your blood alcohol concentration at trial, then, you should expect to have to pay a fair amount of money in order to secure the expert that you will need. Most cost at least $1,000 or more.


While you may want to call regular witnesses to testify on your behalf at trial, they will be limited to testifying about direct observations they actually made. Juries are instructed to weigh the credibility of all witnesses, and although you may know that a close relative or friend is a trustworthy person, a jury is likely to give their testimony little weight, believing them to be biased in your favor. The best observer witnesses are those that do not know you and who are willing to testify about observations that are favorable to you. Realistically, these types of witnesses are normally difficult to find in a DUI case. You should thus normally expect that your DUI trial will be limited to the testimony of the police, the prosecution's expert and your own expert.


In some cases, your attorney may identify constitutional problems with the manner in which your stop was conducted, the testing was performed or evidence was gathered. In that event, your attorney may file pretrial evidentiary motions challenging the admissibility of evidence in your case. The court would then schedule a hearing prior to the trial at which the officer will be called to the stand to testify. This type of hearing occurs potentially weeks or even months before your trial, and the testimony is elicited only in front of the judge and not in front of a jury. As these motions involve highly technical legal arguments, it is best to hire an attorney to draft the motions and then argue them. Motions based on the law enforcement officer's not having probable cause to stop your vehicle in the first place are common, but they are unlikely to succeed in most cases. The officer only needs to have probable cause to believe you committed some type of traffic violation to stop your vehicle, which may include things such as a burnt-out taillight or something akin to it. If your probable cause motion is successful, however, the judge may suppress all of the evidence against you as the fruit of a poisonous tree, an argument that does have legal basis.


If you have a previous DUI conviction, your attorney will likely file a motion to suppress any mention of it. Similarly, people who are convicted of a subsequent offense face stiffer penalties than those who are facing a first DUI offense. Your attorney may thus try to challenge the validity of the previous conviction. This is a very difficult and technical motion to write and argue, and thus is best left in the hands of an experienced DUI attorney.


In some cases, you may be the only witness available that is able to provide information that contradicts the police officer's version of events. You have the constitutional right to choose whether or not you will testify, but deciding whether to testify or not to testify involves careful consideration. If you have a prior felony, the prosecutor will be allowed to cross-examine you about it in order to question your credibility. Even if you do not, if you say one thing that the jury doesn't believe, they are likely to disregard everything else. When you testify, you will also be subjected to cross-examination by the prosecutor who is trained to tear down your testimony. Prosecutors may try to rattle you on the stand or make you angry in order to make you appear to be less credible. They may try to make you look as if you are lying.


If you want to take your DUI case to trial, you do have that right, but it is best for you not to attempt to do so alone. An attorney who is experienced in defending against allegations in DUI cases may be better able to defend against the allegations in your case. They may also be better-equipped to spot evidentiary problems and draft and argue appropriate motions to secure suppression of evidence in your case. For help, call a DUI attorney Concord CA at the Law Office of Blackie Burak at (925) 933-4500 or toll-free at (866) 252-5384 today.