When determining how to try a case, an attorney will be looking at a variety of factors. Depending on the circumstances of the case and the potential penalties it can invoke, an Alexandria DUI lawyer will make an educated decision as to whether or not to have the case tried in front of a jury. Sometimes, the elements of a case can make it so that an individual has the best chance of a successful outcome when facing a jury.
With that said, jury trials can often be incredibly complex and include many legal processes to which an average individual may not be familiar. Therefore, if you are facing such a charge, it is crucial that you contact an experienced lawyer immediately to begin preparing a solid defense to help reduce or dismiss any penalties you may be facing.
A case can be seen one of two ways, either with a bench trial or a jury trial. Simply put, a bench trial is when the judge is the individual that determines all of the facts in the case, and a jury trial is when a jury determines the facts in the case. Regardless of whether it is a judge or a jury, the judge is always the one that determines the law and is in charge of the courtroom. However in bench trials, the judge determines guilt or innocence, and in jury trials, the jury determines guilt or innocence.
In Alexandria, DUI juries not only determine the guilt or innocence of the defendant, but also their punishment. Going in front of a jury on a DUI case can sometimes be a risky thing to do. This is because a person may wind up with a harsher punishment form a jury than they would from a judge.
On the other hand, there are many issues that juries might be more sympathetic to than judges would. In some cases, particularly if there is nothing much to lose, it can be advantageous to try an Alexandria DUI case in front of a jury.
When there are factual issues in a case such as whether a person was actually operating a motor vehicle, or whether the person was above the legal limit at the time of driving or whether that happened at some point later, it can be beneficial to try a case in front of a jury. These are the kinds of issues where it can be beneficial to take in front of a jury.
The judges deal with a lot of these kinds of cases where there are certain, effective defenses. However, they are far less likely to be sympathetic toward an individual than a jury would. Jury members may be much more susceptible to a defense than a judge would, leading an attorney to decide to try the case in front of a jury.
In an Alexandria DUI jury trial, there will initially be what is called a “venire,” which is a summon to court to potentially participate as a juror. This is a group of as many as twenty individuals who are summoned to court. When court begins, there is a process that is called “voir dire,” where jurors are selected. There are basic questions that they are asked to determine whether they are eligible to serve as jurors. These questions include things such as if they have ever been convicted of an offense that is a felony, or if they had a case before the court during that term of court.
The lawyers have a say in determining the juror as well. They will ask their own questions, and if there is anything in their answers that makes it appear that they cannot render a fair and impartial verdict then they will be stricken as jurors. In addition to that, each side gets to strike three jurors for any reason that they want to. Once the court is down to a minimum seven jurors who have not been stricken, then the jury is what is called “empaneled”, and the trial can begin.
The big downside of trying an Alexandria DUI case in front of a jury is that they get to impose punishment. Often, a judge will either sentence no jail time or minimum jail time depending on the charge. However, a jury may find an individual should be sentenced to the maximum punishment, which in misdemeanor cases is up to a year in jail.
On the other hand, in certain kinds of more serious, felony DUI cases, sentencing guidelines utilized by the judge might call for very significant amounts of time. It may be advantageous to argue to a jury that the punishment ought to be less severe because juries do not review sentencing guidelines. It all depends on the particular facts of the case as to whether a particular sentence is going to make sense or not. Most of the time, a defendant is much better off to have a DUI case tried in front of a judge than a jury, but there are exceptions for that.
Working with a local lawyer is going to be important in determining whether to try an individual’s case, because that attorney will have an intimate knowledge of the prosecutors, the judges, and the disposition of juries in the community.
These are all things that are very important to understand and reflect on when determining whether a person wants to expose themselves to the risks that are involved in a trial as opposed to taking a plea. In some cases, it will be much to their advantage to not risk it at trial. On the other hand, there are many circumstances where trial will give them the best outcome. A proper attorney can help an individual decide the best course of action for their case.
Do not send us confidential information related to you or your company until you speak with one of our attorneys and get authorization to send that information to us.