If you’ve been charged with driving under the influence, you may be wondering what comes next. For many people, a trial by jury may seem daunting. For others, a trial by jury may provide a chance for you to defend yourself to a jury of your peers. Continue reading to learn whether you can demand a jury trial in a California DUI case and how the trial process works.
Can I Get a Jury Trial for DUI?
In short, yes, you may request a trial by jury if you have been accused of driving under the influence. Under the California Penal Code, driving under the influence is a criminal offense, so you are legally entitled to a trial by your peers. If the jury finds you not guilty, the case will be dismissed. However, if the jury finds you guilty, you may face fines, jail time, and revocation or suspension of your driver’s license.
Is a Judge or Jury Trial Better?
Just because you have the right to a jury trial does not mean that it is always the best option for you. Although jury trials are a major part of the criminal justice system, you can waive your right to a trial by jury and opt to have a judge decide your case instead. For example, if you have been offered a plea bargain by the prosecutor, you may not need to undergo a trial by jury.
If you do decide to go to trial for DUI, a court will schedule your trial within 45 days of your arrest. However, going to trial can often be costly and time-consuming. In many cases, you may be able to resolve your charges more quickly and in a more favorable manner by opting for a judge instead. In either case, you should consult with an experienced DUI attorney to walk through your options and decide what option is the best choice for your specific case.
DUI Jury Trial Process
If your lawyer advises you to proceed with a jury trial, you should be aware of what the jury trial process looks like. All jury trials begin with jury selection, where attorneys for both the prosecution and defense question and select the members that will comprise the ultimate jury. Once the jurors have been selected, the case will proceed to the actual trial.
Trials begin with the opening statements, where the prosecution and defense attorneys each introduce their sides of the case. Then, each side will have the opportunity to present their evidence, including photographs, test results, and witness testimony. Each attorney will then end with a closing statement.
After both sides have presented their cases, the jury will leave to a private room to deliberate. The jurors will discuss the case until they unanimously agree whether you are guilty or not guilty. In order to find you guilty, the jury must decide that the evidence proves your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest standard of proof in law. Finally, if the jury gives a guilty verdict, you will undergo a sentencing hearing to determine your penalty for DUI.
Contact Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or your loved one has been arrested for driving under the influence, contact Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible to see how we can help. At Wallin & Klarich, we know whether a judge or jury trial will be best-suited for you. With 40+ years of experience, our attorneys have helped thousands of clients successfully reduce or dismiss their sentences, and we have the skills and resources to help you avoid hefty fines and jail time.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you.
Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.