Do Most DUI Cases Go To Trial?
Realistically, DUI cases sometimes do not go to trial often enough. Many different things can come up with DUIs. One of the things that we see a lot is any time it is a first time DUI, if the plea offer is to plead to the charge, you really do not have that much more to lose by going to trial. The potential is out there to receive a harsher penalty, but in reality many times that is not going to happen. The unfortunate thing is when it is a DUI case there are many issues involved. Often times the prosecutor may make an offer to a non-DUI resolution, and many clients want to try, and avoid the risk of a DUI trial. It is not very often that they go to trial, but we try to encourage cases that should go to trial go to trial.
Is It True That Many DUI Attorneys Avoid Taking A DUI Case To Trial?
Yes, many attorneys do not want to go to trial on DUI cases. We have seen this couple of different ways. Sometimes an attorney will offer a flat fee, and then they will include the trial in that flat fee. If the trial outcome is going to be the same thing that the plea agreement is, then you save time by not going to trial, which would essentially cost you more money as an attorney. We do not do that, we have a trial fee, which sometimes means that the client would want to avoid that payment, and would rather take the plea.
Most of them have are backed up by science statistics, which makes them a little bit difficult. Sometimes it is just an ego thing. Some attorneys may not want to go to trial and have to say that they lost a DUI trial, but that happens. You have to get over it, so that you can be better and win these trials the next time.
What Criteria Do You Consider When Deciding Whether Or Not To Take A DUI Case To Trial?
It depends on the legal issues. Some problems that are considered include physical control issues, meaning whether the state can prove that our client was actually driving the car. There is a litany of issues with the blood testing, and the different problems that can happen with that process. There is also the ability to cross-examine the officer on the different field sobriety tests if the client took those tests when the stop occurred.
Ultimately, it is always up to the client as to whether or not they are going to take up a plea offer or if they want to go to trial, but there are some factors that we do take into account. If the client has any other criminal history, and if they have a bad driving history, the state may try to offer a harsher penalty at trial. Again, if the plea offer is to plead to the charge, our general consensus is you might as well go to trial and fight. Problems come up at trial that you never can really prepare for and that is the thing we want to capitalize on.
Should Someone Go To Trial Simply Because They Did Not Like The Plea Offer?
Realistically, the client could decide whatever reason they wanted to go to trial. I have represented police officers, politicians and legislators and other people who just cannot have a conviction on their record, so even if they had a horrible case, they would want any chance or possibly to not have a conviction on their record.
During my career, I have handled at least 2 cases where I had told them it was not worth it to go to trial because I did not see the likelihood of wining and that I thought it was a waste of time and waste of money, but they still insisted, so we went to trial and then something went wrong during the trial for those two cases and they ended up walking free because the prosecutor had either made a mistake or else they did not show up.
The client would not have to explain their reasoning for why they wanted to go to trial, because it would be their constitutional right to go to trial. I would only be able to advise them with respect to my thoughts about them going to trial and what their options would be so they could make a fully informed decision on how they wanted to proceed. It would be perfectly fine if they wanted to go to trial and it would be perfectly fine if they wanted to take a plea agreement.
Do Most People Have A Clear Understanding Of What A DUI Trial Is All About?
Almost all clients come in with a misconception of what proving a drunk driving means. Most individuals assume if they have been stopped, arrested and charged, then they must be guilty and there is nothing they can do about it. That is the biggest mistake an individual can make. Every case has defenses. Every case requires the prosecution to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Every case is worth fighting, whether or not the result of that fighting may be a reduced sentence or a trial. Nothing can be determined at the inception of the case, prior to preparing the defense. Only then can it be determined whether or not the prosecution actually has a strong case.
What Are The Common Reasons That A DUI Case May Be Dismissed?
I am able to have most DUI cases dismissed for a number of different reasons. Sometimes there is a legal defect in the case, or what somebody might call a technicality. Other times it might be a constitutional basis. A case could be dismissed if it was determined that there was no probable cause to make that traffic stop. A case can be dismissed if there was no probable cause to arrest them for a DUI. I have had situations where there is a roadblock or a roadside sobriety checkpoint, and I was able to have it determined by a judge that the entire checkpoint system was performed in an unconstitutional manner. Sometimes, they are forced to dismiss a case if I am able to exclude or suppress certain evidence. It may be the only evidence that I do exclude, which is the only information they had against my client to begin with.