Montgomery County DUI Trial Process
If you were charged with a DUI, you should not risk appearing in court alone. Allow an experienced attorney to guide you through the Montgomery County DUI trial process.
Steps in the Trial Process
The first step in the trial process is the opening statements made by the parties. They may introduce motions about what evidence should or should not be permissible. Other steps are the testimony of state’s witnesses and the defense’s witnesses, as well as the cross-examination of the witnesses by the attorneys involved. After the state presents their case, motions for judgment of acquittal may be introduced to determine whether the state met their prima facie burden regarding the charges brought. The final steps are the closing arguments from both sides and a verdict from the judge or jury.
An opening statement is given by each side to explain to the finder-of-fact, whether it is a judge or a jury, the evidence and what it shows. The opening statement given by the defense lawyer at the beginning of the trial lays out the evidence they intend to introduce and identifies what they believe it will prove. Opening statements are a roadmap to help the judge or jury understand the content, issues, flow, and theories about the evidence. It offers a framework from each side of how they would like the finder-of-fact to interpret the information they hear during the course of a trial.
The State’s Case
The prosecution presents their case first because the prosecution has the burden of proof
Evidence the government presents includes information about the person’s bad driving or a basis for the stop. There might be evaluations or observations made by the police officer pertaining to an odor of alcohol, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, or open containers in a vehicle. The government may produce statements made by the defendant about how much they had to drink or where they were coming from. In addition, results of field sobriety tests, results from a breathalyzer, blood test, or urinalysis screening may be presented.
While the government presents its case, Tthe defense attorney listens carefully and prepares questions for cross-examination of the witnesses to challenge the evidence the prosecution tries to present through witnesses. The finder-of-fact has an opportunity to hear the challenges raised regarding the conclusions or statements made by the witness submitted by the prosecutor.
The Defense’s Case
Following the government’s presentation, the defense has an opportunity to cross-examine each witness the government presents. After the government presents their evidence, the defense attorney could make a motion for judgment of acquittal, which is a request by the defense attorney asking the judge to dismiss all or some counts based on a lack of evidence to support the counts of the state’s case. If that is denied, the defense moves on with their own case by calling witnesses to testify to the defense’s theory about the case.
The defense might present evidence to contradict what the state presented. For example, if there is evidence such as a medical issue that demonstrates why a person performed poorly on field sobriety tests, that information may be presented through a medical witness. If there are issues associated with witnesses in the vehicle with the defendant at the time who could testify to what they saw during the course of the field sobriety test, they might be called as witnesses.
Although there is no requirement to do so, the defendant has an opportunity to testify about their interpretation of the events as they had transpired, how they believe they performed on the field sobriety tests, and statements they possibly made to the police officer at the time.
While the defense presents its case, the government listens intently and develops questions for cross-examination. They have an opportunity to challenge the witnesses for the defense in the same way the defense may challenge the prosecution’s witness.
The closing argument is the final address to the judge or jury by each side of the case in which they summarize the evidence and their position on the case. The closing argument is not evidence, but is an opportunity for each party to present to the finder-of-fact what they believe the evidence shows. The closing arguments may be that the prosecution met its burden, or from the defense’s perspective, the reasons the prosecution failed to meet its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
Reach Out to a Montgomery County Attorney for Help With Your DUI Trial
For guidance and support through every step of the Montgomery County DUI trial process, reach out to a lawyer. Having a skilled defense attorney by your side could make a critical difference in the outcome of a case. Call today to set up a consultation.