Criminal jury trials in California
DUI Jury Trials in the Central Valley
When facing DUI charges, your initial reaction me be that taking your case
to a jury trial will be futile. However, there are many situations in
which you could benefit from taking your case to a jury trial. In order
to make that determination you should consult with an experienced DUI
defense attorney who practices in Fresno, including the San Joaquin Valley,
including Kings County, Madera County and Tulare County, in order to determine
whether a trial by jury is in your best interest.
What are your trial rights after being arrested?
The U.S. Constitution makes it clear that each criminal defendant has the
right to a speedy trial. The state of California has clarified this privilege.
California guidelines indicate that a DUI defendant has the right to a
court trial within 30 days of the date of their arraignment on the charges.
However, if the DUI defendant is not in custody or on pretrial release,
they shall be granted a court trial within 45 days of the date of their
arraignment on the charges. These time frames appear to be arbitrary,
but each may be waived by the DUI defendant or may be extended upon request.
Jury trials in California
A trial on DUI charges features specific elements that can be found during
trials on other types of criminal charges. Initially, there will be the
submission of pretrial motions regarding evidence and procedures. The
actual trial will start with the jury selection in order to identify 12
impartial jurors. During this process, attorneys for the defense and the
prosecution will ask questions of potential jurors who have been summoned
from the surrounding communities to hear evidence in the trial.
The jury selection process is known as voir dire, from French. A legal
dictionary defines it as: "to see to speak," the questioning
of prospective jurors by a judge and attorneys in court. Voir dire is
used to determine if any juror is biased and/or cannot deal with the issues
fairly, or if there is cause not to allow a juror to serve. One of the
unspoken purposes of the voir dire is for the attorneys to get a feel
for the personalities and likely views of the people on the jury panel.
Opening statements in a California DUI trial
At the start of the trial, both sides may offer opening statements to the
jury panel. Opening statements are not designed to be argumentative, but
the statements are offered in order to give the jury panel a sense of
what evidence will be presented and the the identities of the witnesses
who may be testifying during the trial. Defense attorneys usually use
their opening statements to educate the jury panel regarding the burden
of proof that must be met by the prosecutor in a DUI case. The standard
regarding the burden of proof in a jury trial is known as beyond a reasonable doubt.
Presentation of evidence
At the conclusion of opening statements, the prosecution will present evidence
regarding the DUI charges in an effort to meet their burden of proof beyond
a reasonable doubt. Defense attorneys will engage in the cross examination
of the prosecution's witnesses and experts when they testify. At the
conclusion of the presentation by the prosecution, the defense attorney
will have an opportunity to present evidence through testimony from witnesses.
Closing arguments and deliberations
During closing arguments to the jury panel the attorneys may review of
all the evidence by arguing the significance or lack of credibility of
that evidence. The jury panel will be excused in order to deliberate in
private in order to determine the appropriate verdict based upon the evidence.
The jury panel is required to reach a unanimous decision before returning
its verdict. The court will reconvene in open session where the verdict
will be read aloud. If the defendant is found guilty a sentencing hearing
will be scheduled.
Contact an attorney
If you are facing charges related to the offense DUI in the San Joaquin
Valley, including Kings County, Madera County and Tulare County, do not
think that your only choice is to plead guilty. Take a moment to contact
the DUI trial attorneys at Wapner Jones P.C. and schedule a consultation
in order to discuss the facts of your case and be advised of your options.