Jury trials are unique in that the outcome of a person’s case rests on the consensus of a group of people instead of one individual. While there are certain advantages to having Fredericksburg DUI jury trials, there are also disadvantages that a person accused of drunk driving should know about. Reach out to an adept DUI attorney for help with learning more about jury trials in DUI cases.
The difference between a bench trial and a jury trial is that a bench trial has a judge presiding over it. The judge decides both the guilt and innocence of the individual and their sentence if they are found guilty. For a jury trial, the jury will be the fact finder. They will be the body that weighs the facts and decides both guilt and innocence and then decides the sentence if the person is found guilty.
A typical DUI offense in General District Court will be charged a misdemeanor. An individual charged with a DUI will most likely face a misdemeanor charge unless a person was seriously injured or if it is the defendant’s third DUI within ten years. A person may want a jury trial if there is no blood alcohol level evidence, the officer made many errors in the arrest procedure, or if their driving record is perfectly clean. Situations where the jury is sympathetic vary.
The potential benefits of a jury trial for a Fredericksburg DUI case vary. It is often difficult for jurors to push through evidence that is not just based on an officer’s observations. When a person has a judge that sees DUIs regularly, the judge is going to know what reactions the test means. These tests include the walk-and-turn, the one-leg stand, the HGN, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.
Contrarily, the juries may not have this information. Therefore, having a jury trial may be beneficial for the defendant. Often, a person may want a jury where the officer’s interpretation is up for debate, the officer did not perform the test precisely right, or for a variety of other reasons.
Some individuals would want a jury because they feel as though they are not going to be fairly treated by the establishment and they want their peers to decide whether or not the officer’s actions were appropriate. While the defense might not want a jury whatsoever in some instances, the prosecution in Virginia has the right to ask for a jury if they wish it.
Juries in Virginia decide both guilt or innocence and the sentence. Most juries do not have experience or knowledge when it comes to DUI cases. Consequently, juries do not know what a typical response is for DUI. There might be a situation where a jury finds the accused guilty and then imposes active jail time if they do not like the defendant, felt that the case was more dangerous than it was, or they got a wrong impression from the DUI video.
Whatever the reason, juries might impose a significant amount of jail time while a judge may have given minimal jail time or may have suspended all of the jail time for a first defense DUI. Fredericksburg DUI trials are a gamble since a jury has the authority to give more jail time than a judge might give.
When deciding whether to take a case to trial, it is essential to obtain an experienced and local lawyer. A Fredericksburg attorney will know how to defend DUI charges, as well as understand how to interact with the judges, jury, and prosecutors. To learn more about Fredericksburg DUI jury trials and how a lawyer could help you, call today and set up a consultation.