December 27, 2014

DUI Criminal Defense and Jury Trials- Clients and Defenses

Share it Please

In the last post I discussed the difficulty in DUI jury trials and why I enjoy DUI and criminal defense. In this blog entry, I will discuss clients and defenses. The two go hand in hand for a number of different reasons that will be explained. The last blog post in this series will examine the "cost-benefit" analysis which involves what is given up in the decision to go trial.

First, the mentality of the client is very important. Some clients go into an initial client meeting and the first thing they say is they want to plead guilty- they want to accept responsibility and all this over. On the other side of the spectrum, clients want a jury trial. For the first type, the advice is to wait- that the People's case must be examined prior to pleading guilty. Further, this is exactly the type of person that is least likely to be a risk to society- they recognize that their behavior must change- and can change their behavior on their own regardless of punishment. Personal responsibility is separate than the People's duty to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

The client may also have to testify. This involves public speaking, which can terrify a person. I have taken the testimony of many civilians in criminal and civil proceedings, and can usually help a client work through their fears to give good testimony. It is also important to answer the question, and not go off on tangents. I've won jury trials where a witness spoke too much, and proved their own defense to be a sham. The witness must be credible, efficient, and confident. Or, again, they may be giving the prosecution a guilty verdict.

Second, is the defenses involved. There are a number of defenses I list in my mailings. However, for many defenses, the facts must fit the defense. Attempting to shoe-horn facts into a defense will not pass the common sense test- and common sense is the cornerstone of jury trials. For instance, a rising defense with a .15% BAC, necessity defenses where other options are obvious, driving defense in the middle of a lighted, populated area with witnesses, GERD defense with no medical history, etc.

Criminal defense attorneys sometimes lose sight of common sense and work themselves up into a righteous ignorance. A defense may exist that would score extra points in law school, but does not work in the real world. And jurors live in the real world. The defense must fit facts, albeit with room to squeeze some, but otherwise the client is headed straight towards a guilty verdict.

Finally, the client must be present for the jury trial. For misdemeanors, through Penal Code 977, defendants do not need to be present. But if the client/defendant is not taking the time to be present for their jury trial, the message to the jury is that it isn't worth their time either. The defense theory itself is compromised. The presence of a defendant humanizes the experience, and grounds the full weight of "beyond a reasonable doubt" which our land demands of criminal prosecution. If not present, the prejudicial effect of DUIs is magnified, and it is quite easy for the jury to convict.


Developed in partnership with SanFran Coders.


The acronyms DUI, DWI, OMVI and OVI all refer to the same thing: operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The most commonly used terms are DUI, an acronym for Driving Under the Influence, and DWI, an acronym for Driving While Impaired.
© Copyright 2010 - 2015 MY OVI | Developed by San Fran Coders