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First-Offense DUI Trial Process in DC

A trial for first-offense DUI can seem like an overwhelming experience. It can be difficult to navigate the first-offense DUI trial process in DC alone. That is why, if you have been charged with a DUI offense, you should consult a qualified DUI attorney. A skilled lawyer could devote the time and resources necessary to achieve a positive outcome in your DUI case.

Preparing for a DUI Trial

The first-offense DUI trial process in DC. Many factors go into a trial. The District now has body camera video and that allows the preparation of DUI cases to take on a new dimension because there is more to see in real time, particularly related to the standardized field sobriety tests. The preparation now involves watching the video to determine how to prepare for what it shows. Some of the footage may be positive and some of it may be negative with respect to the defendant.

There is always the question of whether an individual should testify in their own defense. The person must be prepared to testify so they can make a decision about testifying. They need to know what to expect and what cross-examination is like. The lawyer must be prepared for cross-examination of the government witnesses, particularly police officers and that takes time for investigation and preparation.

What Causes a Case to Go to Trial?

Whether a DUI case goes to trial depends on different factors. It depends on whether the person who is charged has prior convictions that may result in mandatory jail time if they do not go to trial or plead guilty. Sometimes, a case that might have originally gone to trial does not because suddenly there is an offer from the government that makes a resolution much more viable. Sometimes, there is no resolution available. Sometimes, the facts of the case dictate that a case goes to trial. There is a broad-based analysis of the entire case including a person’s prior history. Some old-fashioned bargaining goes into determining whether a case goes to trial.

Resolving Cases Before Trial

DUI cases are resolved before trial through negotiations with the prosecutor using different forms of resolution. Forms of resolution like diversion, differed sentencing or differed prosecution agreements allow a person to have no conviction on their record when they perform various tasks like community service and traffic alcohol or traffic safety programs.

Sometimes, when a person has a prior DUI or there are other circumstances such as an accident or a high blood alcohol level, there is the possibility of other resolutions that may lessen the amount of mandatory jail time to be served because of the prior conviction. It depends on the facts and circumstances of a case.

What Happens on the Date of a DUI Trial?

On the day of the DUI trial, an initial hearing is held with a judge who ensures that there are no issues related to evidence, motions, and things of that nature that can prevent a case from going to trial. There may be last-minute negotiations between the prosecutor and the defense attorney about a possible resolution that could avoid the trial.

If those negotiations do not bear fruit, the trial occurs. The government must go first to present their case, they do an opening statement, and then the defense typically does an opening statement; although that is not a requirement. Then the defense can choose to introduce the evidence in their case.

Duration of Trial

The length of a DC DUI trial depends on the kind of evidence being presented. It also depends on whether it is a jury trial or a bench trial. Bench trials are shorter and jury trials take longer because there are more bench conferences when there are certain things the jurors are not allowed to hear. Also, it takes time to pick the jury. A bench trial or a judge trial usually takes about a day, a jury trial takes longer, at least two days.

Preparing for Testimony

One vital aspect of the first-offense DUI trial process in DC is preparing someone to testify. It involves showing someone what type of cross-examination questions they might be asked and preparing them to answer those questions. Much of the credibility of a person who is testifying is determined by the way they carry themselves and whether they get defensive.

People should not get defensive when they testify in court. They must testify truthfully, although admitting some facts can be embarrassing. Testifying truthfully, even when it is hard to do so, demonstrates that the person is not guilty. It takes a lot of work to prepare someone for trial. That preparation includes learning how to behave in court. That includes understanding the importance of dressing appropriately in court, in order to demonstrate respect.

Value of a DC DUI Attorney

An attorney can be an invaluable asset during the first-offense DUI trial process in DC. When the person arrives for court on the day of their DUI trial, they need to contact their lawyer and remain available. Sometimes, it takes a while for the case to be called and there may be last minute details that require some confronting or added preparation with the attorney. If someone has been charged with a DUI offense, they should consult a capable DUI lawyer that could advocate for them.

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