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A Guide to What Happens if You Lose a DUI Trial in California
While many DUI cases end with a plea deal, there are some that will go all the way to trial. A good Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer will be able to review the circumstances of a case and determine whether there is a good chance to win the case at trial.
This is not a matter to take lightly as A DUI is considered a criminal charge, as opposed to a simple traffic violation. If a plea deal is not reached before the scheduled court date, then it is likely the defendant will stand before a trial by jury.
If someone loses in a DUI trial, harsher penalties could be handed down than if they opted to strike a plea deal. Finding a skilled DUI lawyer who can help you make sense of your options is one of the best things you can do if you find yourself dealing with a DUI.
WHAT IS A DUI TRIAL?
In California, it is a crime to drive while under the influence of drugs and excessive alcohol. These substances can impair the ability of a person to operate a vehicle and pose a real danger to the public, which is why driving while under the influence, a DUI, is considered to be a criminal offense.
A DUI trial is required to be scheduled within 45 days of the arrest taking place. It is the forum for the prosecution to present the evidence against the defendant and convince the judge or jury of the defendant’s guilt. The prosecution has the responsibility of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the DUI did happen and the charges that have been filed hold merit.
What to Expect in a DUI Trial
Before even going to trial, you will want to discuss with your DUI lawyer whether it might be a better option to do a plea deal. A deal may offer a better chance of getting a lesser punishment than fighting the charge in the trial would. This is something that an experienced attorney will be able to help you with.
If you have chosen to plead not guilty to the charges set forth against you, then you will proceed to a DUI trial. This will sometimes take place in front of a judge, but more often than not, you will be judged by a jury of your peers who will determine whether you are guilty or not guilty. The jury will be made up of 12 people who all reside in the locale where the trial is taking place.
What are the Consequences of Losing a DUI Trial?
If the jury finds someone not guilty of the DUI charges presented against them, then the defendant is immediately free of all the charges that were brought against them and can be released from custody and further obligation to the court. On the other hand, a guilty verdict will then leave it up to a judge to pursue whatever penalties are appropriate for the facts of the case.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony
Depending on whether you are charged with your first DUI or if this is one of multiple DUIs in the past 10 years, the severity of the penalties can differ greatly.
The first few DUI offenses are normally charged as a misdemeanor by the state of California. If the offenses keep occurring, or if the incident included other aggravating circumstances (such as excessive speeds, injury, or death), then a state may decide on a felony charge. A felony is much more serious than a misdemeanor, and a guilty verdict could result in time in state prison.
A DUI is a priorable offense which means previous charges can be considered when handing down the punishment for a guilty verdict. In Los Angeles County, criminal penalties may include some combination of the following:
- A probation period
- Mandatory community service
- Use and installation of an IID (Ignition Interlock Device)
- Enrollment In DUI courses
- Time served in a county jail or state prison
Being found guilty of a misdemeanor charge will incur the lower end of these punishments (again, depending on how many prior offenses you might have), while being found guilty of a felony will likely mean the offender will receive maximum punishments.
Can You Win a DUI Trial?
An experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer will be able to take a look at the facts of your case and give you a good idea of whether there are ways to fight against the charges. Some of the circumstances that might lead an attorney to lean toward going to trial are:
The traffic stop that led to the DUI was done without a reasonable probable cause which would be a chance where the case would be thrown out
Improper procedures related to the DUI arrest; if any portion of the procedures veered from the standard operating procedures, this might mean that the evidence collected can be thrown out
The officer misunderstood and misinterpreted the results of the field sobriety test and didn’t account for environmental factors that might make it appear that the driver was under the influence.
The breath test being inaccurate due to human error or the machine registering a higher reading for people with certain medical conditions.
How to Prepare for Your DUI Trial?
The most important thing you can do to prepare for a DUI trial is to reach out to an experienced DUI lawyer. Daniel Perlman and Matthew Cohen are experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys who have the skill and know-how to achieve the best outcome for you.
To schedule a free consultation with a DUI attorney, call our firm at 1 (310) 299-0062, and we can walk you through the steps of how we can successfully negotiate a plea deal or get your case dismissed altogether.