Transcript of Episode 028 “Ask a Lawyer with Joey Franks” – What Happens When We Go to Court for a DUI?
What happens when we go to court for a DUI?
Joey: Generally, there are two court appearances that we need to get ready for. The first one is your initial appearance and the prosecutor may or may not offer a plea deal. There’s no trial or evidence at this one. You walk in and the judge will ask you, “How do you plead?” Either guilty or not guilty, that’s all they want to know.
The second date is your trial date and at that point the prosecutor and your attorney should have spoken. Discovery should have been exchanged and plea deals are on the table. That’s when you can accept a plea deal. Otherwise, we go to trial and the officer that arrested you will be there as you have a right to confront your accuser. The officer will testify. Let’s say some other substance is found in your vehicle, or you had an open container, then they will have somebody from the crime lab there with the reports.
What kind of preparations do you have to do?
Joey: I’ll review the police report, and any videos of the incident. You need to review any notes you may have made with me. I’ll discuss your options with you and whether or not you want to testify and look at the witnesses and what you can expect. And yet, I’m still an affordable DUI attorney in Jackson MS.
Will my case be decided by a judge or a jury?
Joey: It depends. For a DUI first or second offense, it will be a judge-only trial, no matter what level you were at. If you are at the municipal court, or the justice court level, you will have a judge. If you have appealed or plead no contest and gone up to county court, then you will also only have a judge. However, if it is an aggravated DUI, a third or fourth or subsequent offense DUI, you will have a jury because those are felony charges and carry a year or more in jail. The United States Supreme Court has said that entitles you to a jury trial.
Will I have to testify?
Joey: You are not required to testify and you have the right to remain silent. I almost always advise my clients not to testify. There’s generally nothing they can say that I can’t disprove from the other side based on the evidence in front of us. What’s more, prosecutors do up to ten trials a week. This is what they do all day, every day. Most people don’t even get a DUI once in a lifetime, or twice if they’re unlucky. So, I always advise not to testify because the prosecutor is experienced and the individual charged is nervous and they’re not 100% in it. On top of that, they don’t have the experience on how to answer those questions and not get tangled up. While I almost always advise my clients not to testify, you have the right to testify if you so desire against the advice of counsel.