In Connecticut, DUI cases sometimes make it to the trial stage of the case. This means that after the discovery of evidence and after plea negotiations and discussions with the prosecutor and defense attorney, an alternative resolution cannot be reached.
Many times DUI cases will be resolved before a trial because the prosecutor may make a deal with the defendant that they participate in an alcohol education program, substance abuse program, or other consequences such as community service and fines, or some combination of consequences, in exchange for the defendant forgoing trial. This is often the case in first-offender DUI cases, where there is clear evidence that the defendant’s blood alcohol content was over the legal limit and was driving while intoxicated.
However, in some cases, the defendant may have a defense for the DUI that they were not intoxicated or were not driving at all. There could be many reasons why the case cannot be resolved without a trial, where all the evidence is laid out for a judge or jury to evaluate and determine guilt.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation with my team. Hope will not fix your Connecticut DUI charge. Contacting us can!
Following discovery and plea negotiations, if there is still no resolution, the case will be put on the trial list. The trial will either be before a jury, which is a panel of six jury members in misdemeanor cases, or before a judge. In a jury trial, the first step that happens is “voir dire,” which is the process of questioning and selecting jury members to sit for the case. Voir dire is aimed at asking potential juror members about their history, background, and viewpoints to see if they will be committed to giving the defendant a fair trial if selected.
Once the jury is selected and the trial begins, there are sometimes opening arguments that are presented by the defense attorney and the prosecutor. However, in DUI cases, there may not be opening arguments unless the judge approves of this.
Often, the trial will begin with the prosecution calling their first witness. Sometimes this first witness is an eyewitness or a police officer. The prosecutor will ask the witness questions and then the defense attorney will get the opportunity to cross-examine the witness. Upon cross-examination, they can ask the witness further questions or clarify certain answers given during the direct examination by the prosecutor.
Witnesses will be called and questioned until the prosecutor “rests” the case or states that they are finished presenting evidence or witnesses. At this point, the defense can call additional witnesses to testify, and the defendant will have the opportunity to testify for themselves but is not required to. If the defendant does not take the stand to testify, this cannot be used against them to be considered as evidence by the judge or jury because every defendant has the constitutional right to be free from self-incrimination. However, if the defendant decides to take the stand, they will be subjected to a cross-examination by the prosecution, which can be risky in some instances.
Once the defense has finished presenting any and all witnesses, both the defense and the prosecution will have the opportunity to make closing arguments. Closing arguments are generally a summary of the evidence presented at the trial. Each attorney will tend to point out the evidence that is most favorable to their side. The jury (or the judge) will then deliberate and discuss all of the evidence and make a determination of whether the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of committing the alleged DUI or not. This decision must be unanimous. The decision will be read in court. If the decision is that the defendant is guilty, the case will then continue to the sentencing phase.
In DUI cases, the sentencing could happen immediately after the guilty verdict is read or could be pushed to a later date. Sentencing for a DUI could include jail time, probation time, and other conditions such as substance abuse treatment, fines, and other restrictions like driving with an ignition interlock device. Once the sentencing is imposed, it will be effective immediately.
For many clients, getting a DUI is a very scary process, and going to trial is even more daunting because it can make the outcome even more unpredictable. If you have been arrested for a DUI in Connecticut, call Lady DUI today to speak with an attorney who can help you.