The jury deliberated for 2 .5 hrs. just after 2 hrs the jury had a question that they wrote on a piece of paper and the judge read it to counsel on record. The question was:
" can we find the defendant not guilty for DUI but find him guilty for refusing the chemical test?"
The judge wrote back "NO" and sent it with the balif to deliver it to the jury.
5 minuets later the came back with a guilty verdict for driving and for the refusal.
I believe that the jury miss understood the judges answer and that is why they ruled Guilty.
I believe that the judge should have called the jury back into court and explained to them that if you find the defendant not guilty of driving then the refusal is a mute point.
Is this a reason for a motion for new trial? or should I take it strait to appeal? I was not the driver of the car. There was a lot of evidence " eye witnesses " that saw me as the passenger of the car. The driver of the car came to testify that he was the driver. Eye witness came to testify that I was the passenger and the other guy was the driver. The prosecution only had circumstantial evidence.
Criminal Defense Attorney
You can appeal but you will lose. The judge's answer was entirely appropriate for the question asked. Furthermore it sounds like that's not your beef anyway .... it seems your beef is you weren't driving but were found guilty anyway. That's because the jury - the finders of fact - must have found your friend's testimony unconvincing and that you were the driver. There is no appeal on questions of fact determined by a jury; only for errors of law.
By the way, circumstantial evidence carries the same weight as direct evidence. As long as reliable and admissible, a case can - and often does - rely on circumstantial evidence alone. A jury is always instructed on this point. Did you not hear the judge read it?
1. If you are moving forward, always ask for reconsideration and tell the judge why. Why? Because you give him a chance to reverse/give a directed verdict after having heard the reason. AND it shows that you have exhausted all remedies AND it gets the fact on the record. Talk to your attorney about this.
2. Below are Criminal Specialists for LA County and Appellate Specialists for LA County. We regret that the Appellate specialists are not broken out into criminal and civil work accepted, and that there are about 5-6 civil specialists for every criminal specialist, so you have some calling to do.
Talk with your attorney and see if/ how far he will go with you on your path forward.
Then make a decision on whether you want to call the specialists below for any additional advice or information or estimates.
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Did your counsel object to the court's response to the jury's question? If not, it is difficult to offer any optimism for your prospects on appeal. Did your counsel request additional instruction to the jury? Same problem, if not.
My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.
I agree with the above attorneys. What the Judge said was legally correct. There was no other answer that could have been given. If the court had elaborated more fully, then the Judge may have been reversed depending on what language he/she gave. So on that ground you would lose because it is correct.
That said, since you aren't an attorney, you may have plenty of other issues that could have occurred during the trial that an appellate attorney could find, that you would not see. One of the above attorneys alluded to the fact that your attorney's failure to object could be problematic. That, in and of itself MAY be the issue you would want to pursue. This is an ineffective assistance of counsel claim and your current attorney, the one who did the trial, won't advise you where in the trial he/she aired. Ineffective assistance of counsel is a common appellate issue raised and requires a full evaluation of the entire record by an appellate lawyer to find this or other issues.
You do have time limits to file a Motion For New Trial and an Appeal. At a minimum your attorney should file a Notice of Appeal to preserve the time for you. Then you can have time to consult appellate counsel. The other issue you need to consider is that of cost. Appeals are NOT cheap. That said, if you want to pursue it, you need to have the entire record examined not just the issue you are aggrieved about.