Jury Trial for DUI in Orange County, California
The law establishes how much time should or should not elapse between arrest and trial in a criminal case. However, those time limits can be waived so that you or your lawyer can obtain discovery (evidence), hire an expert or launch an independent investigation of the facts of the case.
There are two types of trials – jury trials and court trials. A court trial is done without a jury, so the judge is both the judge and the jury. It is almost never advisable to elect to have a court trial. Because of this, I will discuss only the jury trial.
As I explained, before the trial begins your attorney will be able to argue which evidence may or may not be admissible during trial. Once these motions are heard and ruled upon, your attorney will then choose a jury. The process of selecting jurors from a large pool of potential jurors is called voir dire.
After the jury is selected, the trial begins with each side presenting opening statements. The prosecutors go first, presenting their side of the case. Then your lawyer will give the jury an overviewof your version of what happened. In many ways, this can work in your favor because jurors are more likely to remember what they heard last.
During the trial, witnesses may testify and the lawyers will present evidence. Your lawyer may likely call upon an expert to testify in your behalf. Their testimony may focus on the chemical tests, the field sobriety tests, accident reconstruction or other scientific aspects of your case.
Once all the evidence is presented and the lawyers give their final arguments, with the prosecutors having the last word, the jury decides whether you are guilty or not guilty.
If the jury finds you not guilty, you will be free to leave and you can never be tried again for the same crime. If you are found guilty, the case will be continued for sentencing at a later date. You may also choose to be sentenced right away.
If the jury cannot decide whether you are guilty or not guilty, this is called a hung jury. The judge will give additional instructions and encourage the jury to decide. But if they still cannot decide, the case will be declared a mistrial and you could be tried again. However, in a typical first offense DUI, the district attorney’s office will most likely dismiss the case if the jury hangs.
Of course, if either side doesn’t agree with the verdict, the misdemeanor can be appealed to the Appellate Department of the Superior Court.
Scott D. Hughes is an Orange County Trial Lawyer practicing DUI and Criminal Law.