When charged with a drunk driving offense, a person has a choice whether to undergo a bench trial or a jury trial. In a bench trial, a judge listens to both sides and determines the facts and will rule on the case. In a jury trial, a group of jurors will be required to listen to the testimony in a case and to determine which facts they believe prevail and whether the Commonwealth has met its burden of proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Reach out to a seasoned drunk driving attorney for assistance with preparing for Fredericksburg DUI jury trials.
In many cases when a DUI is pending in circuit court, it will be advisable to have either a bench trial or a jury trial depending on the facts of the case. The defendant has the right to have a jury trial if they desire, but in Virginia, the Commonwealth also has the right to request a jury trial. There may be in case where an individual charged with DUI does not want to have a jury trial, but if that case is pending in circuit court, the prosecution has the right to request a jury trial.
It is important to work with an experienced DUI attorney who is knowledgeable about the judges in the area and the average jury, and whether or not the prosecution will demand a jury trial if the case is appealed to circuit court.
Some of the potential benefits of having a jury decide a DUI case are the jury’s experience and ability to determine credibility, as well as the ability to appeal to the common sense and intelligence of jurors in cases where the prevailing wisdom is not as sensible as it should be.
If the outcome of the case is going to be determined by the credibility of the individual on trial or by the determination of factual evidence, it may be beneficial to have a jury with normal experiences and normal sympathy to hear the case and evaluate the evidence. If the credibility of the witnesses is not as important as the legal issues, it may be better to have a judge with special legal training decide the facts of the case. For more insight, contact an attorney about Fredericksburg DUI jury trials.
One of biggest reasons not to request a jury in a DUI case, and the reason that many prosecutors will request the jury to hear a DUI case, is that jurors tend to be harsh on drunk drivers if they find the facts sufficient to prove them guilty beyond are a reasonable doubt.
The jury selection process in Virginia is known as voir dire. In that process, the judge, the prosecutor, and defense attorney will all have an opportunity to ask questions of jurors to determine any potential biases that they may have, or any other reasons to make them unable or unfit to serve on the jury. The voir dire begins with the judge asking general questions of the jurors regarding:
Then the prosecutor and defense attorney will take turns asking questions of the jurors as well.
Before determining whether a person’s case should go to trial, it is important to speak with an experienced DUI attorney. An experienced attorney could evaluate the facts in a person’s case in comparison with many cases in the same jurisdiction that they have seen in the past, as well as any changes or nuances in the law that may affect a person’s specific case.
An attorney could be able to evaluate the pros and cons of proceeding to trial and will be able to determine which argument the local judges routinely accept and what types of evidence they tend to rely on. This may enable them to best determine whether the facts in a specific case warrant a trial. Do not hesitate, reach out to an attorney for help with preparing for Fredericksburg DUI jury trials.
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