Georgia DUI Trials
An arrest for a DUI in Atlanta can be one the worst experiences of your life. Standing on the side of the read with the flashing lights and paraded in front of passing traffic will make you feel like a criminal even if you did nothing wrong. After getting handcuffed, taken to the police station, and processed can be humiliating. After you get released, you may never want to think about it again. Unfortunately, you'll have to deal with the arrest, and sometimes that may mean dragging it out for months until you go to trial.
It may be really tempting to just accept a plea deal from the prosecutor. After all, saying your guilty will mean no more court dates, months of delays or a jury trial. But saying you're guilty is not an easy way out, just the easiest way out for the prosecutor. Don't forget everything that comes with a guilty plea. If you admit guilt, then the judge will hand down your sentence, complete with a criminal record.
A guilty plea for driving under the influence can mean thousands of dollars in fines, fees, costs and insurance premiums. In addition, you'll have to spend many hours doing community service, going to DUI school, and attending substance abuse counseling. All of this is in addition to a one-year suspended license. A guilty plea will still mean you will be feeling the effects of the conviction for at least a year.
Should You Plead Not Guilty?
This is not an easy decision. When thinking about whether you should plead not guilty, you have to take a lot of things into consideration. This is why we recommend consulting an Atlanta DUI lawyer before you make this decision. Don't just rely on what the police and the prosecutors are saying, because it's not their job to be your advocate in court. That's what a lawyer is for. Your DUI lawyer can look at your case, do an in-depth investigation, and help you determine the right move for your best interests.
In some cases, your lawyer can negotiate the best deal so that you can plead guilty to a lesser charge, or have your charges reduced so that you will be done with the process, and won't have to face the maximum charges. In many cases, your lawyer will be able to point out many of the weaknesses in the prosecution's case so that you can have charges totally dismissed.
When your lawyer and the prosecutor can't come to a deal that's in your best interest, you may want to go to trial. Then the process may continue with motions, where your lawyer will try and get chemical test evidence thrown out as being unreliable, or have field sobriety tests kept out of evidence because they are not accurate predictors of intoxication.
A jury trial, even for a simple first-time DUI, is not a short affair. The judge will often put your case on an “on-calI” status, to call you in when they have availability and when there are enough jurors available to choose from. In most cases it will take two days, so be prepared for a couple weeks of having your trial status up in the air until it is time to be called in.
In the case of a jury trial, your DUI lawyer will try and get the best pool of jurors possible, who will give you a fair chance to show that you are not guilty. Then the trial may begin, which can usually last a couple of days.
First up will be the prosecutor, to lay out their case which is intended to show that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This is because the burden of proof is on them. Then your DUI lawyer will lay out your case, to sew the seeds of doubt into the minds of jurors, to let them know that not everything is as the prosecutor says it is.
The prosecutor will then introduce evidence and witnesses. Afterwards, your DUI lawyer will be able to talk to those same witnesses, and point out any inconsistencies, and identify unreliable statements. In some cases, you and your lawyer may decide that having you testify would be helpful to your defense.
Whether you should testify or not at your own DUI trial is a tough decision. On one hand, you may feel like you want to defend yourself. The police treated you like a criminal, and you may want to show the jury that they didn't give you a fair chance to tell your side of the story. On the other hand, you don't have to prove you are innocent. That's not how our justice system works. The burden is on the State of Georgia to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and if they can't then you aren't guilty.
Testifying may also be tough because you might be nervous, and when the prosecutor cross-examines you, they may try and twist your words so that you seem like you are giving conflicting testimony. They may make you say things you don't really mean, and your testimony could end up hurting you. The decision of whether to testify should be discussed between you and your Atlanta DUI attorney, who can help to prepare you for the experience if you decide to go through with it.
After each side presents their closing arguments, and address the other side, the jury will decide whether you are guilty or not guilty. If the jury finds that you are not guilty, you have won!
Atlanta DUI Lawyer
If you or a loved one have been arrested for a DUI in Atlanta, you don't have to accept the penalties of a DUI conviction. With your DUI lawyer, you may get your charges reduced or dismissed. If you go to trial, your DUI lawyer will be able to defend you throughout the process, to make sure you get the fair treatment you deserve. You should talk to an Atlanta DUI defense lawyer as soon as you can, so that you'll understand what your options are, and the strengths and weaknesses of your case. This can help you figure out if you should go to trial, to fight for a “not guilty” verdict.
As a dedicated DUI defense lawyer who has built my career on defending people charged with drunk driving, I understand what a DUI can mean for you and your family. I can help guide you through the administrative and criminal proceedings, to make sure you get justice. Make sure a one-time mistake doesn't end up in a criminal record. Call my office anytime, 24/7.