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Arizona DUI Defense Attorney Guide to a DUI Arrest - Step 18 - Trial

TRIAL:

If you’ve passed up on the plea agreement, and your case hasn’t been dismissed, you are basically forced to go to trial.

In aCity/Municipal Court, on Misdemeanor charges, a DUI trial tends to take 1 – 4 days. In Superior Court, on Felony charges, an Aggravated DUI trial tends to take 2 – 5 days.

Most of the first day of trial is picking a jury. The number of “potential" jurors and the number of “actual" jurors that will hear your case depends on whether you are facing a Misdemeanor DUI, or Felony Aggravated DUI, but the process for both charges are very similar.

City / Municipal Court (Misdemeanor DUI charges):

On Misdemeanor DUI charges, the court tends to start out with about 21 “potential" jurors. Those “potential" jurors are whittled down to about 11 “potential" jurors. Of those “potential" jurors, the prosecutor gets to kick off two, and the Defense Attorney gets to kick off two. The remaining seven jurors are the ones that will hear all the evidence in your case. At the end of the case, if all the jurors are still present, one will be drawn at random, so that you are left with six jurors that will decide whether you are Guilty or Not Guilty.

The six jurors will ultimately decide if you are Guilty or Not Guilty of each count of DUI. Their decision (verdict) must be unanimous. If the jury cannot all come to the same conclusion, or cannot agree on the verdict, and no amount of deliberation (discussing the case) will change anyone’s mind, then a mistrial is called.

In the even of a mistrial, the trial is very likely going to be reset for about a month later, and the trial process starts all over again.

Superior Court (Felony Aggravated DUI charges):

The court tends to start out with about 40 “potential" jurors. Those “potential" jurors are whittled down to about 21 “potential" jurors. Of those “potential" jurors, the prosecutor gets to kick off six, and the Defense Attorney gets to kick off six. The remaining nine jurors are the ones that will hear all the evidence in your case. At the end of the case, if all the jurors are still present, one will be drawn at random, so that you are left with eight jurors that will decide whether you are Guilty or Not Guilty.

The eight jurors will ultimately decide if you are Guilty or Not Guilty of each count of Aggravated DUI (Felony). The jurors will also be given the option of finding you Guilty or Not Guilty of the “Lesser-Included Offense" of DUI (Misdemeanor). Their decision (verdict) must be unanimous. If the jury cannot all come to the same conclusion, or cannot agree on the verdict, and no amount of deliberation (discussing the case) will change anyone’s mind, then a mistrial is called.

In the even of a mistrial, the trial is very likely going to be reset for about a month later, and the trial process starts all over again.

In City / Municipal Court (on Misdemeanor DUIs), and in Superior Court (on Felony Aggravated DUIs), trials are conducted the same way.

After a jury is selected, the prosecutor and defense attorney are allowed to do an Opening Statement. The Opening Statement is basically each side telling the jury what the evidence will show, in order for the jury to decide the case in their way. The prosecutor will present to the jury the evidence that will show that the defendant is Guilty, and the Defense Attorney may decide to present to the jury the evidence that will show why the defendant is Not Guilty.

After Opening Statements, the prosecutor gets to put on the “Case in Chief." The prosecutor has the burden to prove their case to the jury “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt," that is a very high burden, and why the prosecutor gets to do just about everything first… and last.

The prosecutor’s “Case in Chief" will always involve putting on witnesses. In all types of DUI cases, the witnesses will usually be a number of officers that were involved in the investigation. Occasionally, the prosecutor will call civilian witnesses to the stand to testify to what they saw. The prosecutor’s “Case in Chief" will also often have a scientist take the stand to testify to what the blood, breath, or urine test results mean, and in Felony cases, the prosecutor will call someone from the MVD (Motor Vehicle Division) to testify as to the state of the defendant’s license or privilege to drive.

The prosecutor gets to call all their witnesses first. When they call their witnesses, they get to ask all the questions they want, then the Defense Attorney gets to ask the prosecutor’s witnesses questions, then the prosecutor gets to ask their witnesses additional questions if they want.

This happens with each of the witnesses the prosecutor presents to the jury.

When the prosecutor is done presenting their case to the jury, they will “rest" their case – stop presenting their evidence – and then the Defense Attorney has the opportunity to present evidence if they choose to do so.

Usually, the Defense Attorney will present evidence in the form of the defendant testifying – if they want to do so – and possibly an expert to testify on the defendant’s behalf. It is not uncommon, however, for the Defense Attorney to not put on any evidence, and “rest" their case, knowing that they will later argue to the jury that the prosecutor has the burden to prove their case “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt," and they have failed to do so.

If the Defense Attorney does choose to present evidence, for example, if the defendant wishes to take the stand to testify as to what happened, the Defense Attorney will get to ask questions first. The defendant will provide answers to those questions. Then the prosecutor will get to ask the defendant questions. The defendant will have to provide answers to those questions. Then the Defense Attorney will have the opportunity to ask additional questions of the defendant.

Once the Defense Attorney “rests" their case after presenting some evidence, the prosecutor may decide to put on “rebuttal" evidence, which may be having new witnesses take the stand to testify, or recalling previous witnesses to the stand to “rebut" what the defendant may have said on the stand.

After the prosecutor puts on “rebuttal" evidence, if any, the evidence portion of the trial is over, and each side is given the opportunity to “argue" to the jury as to what the evidence showed.

The prosecutor will get the first opportunity to do a Closing Argument. They will explain how all the evidence presented to the jury meets all the elements of the DUI law. They will argue that the jury must convict the defendant because they are guilty.

Once the prosecutor has finished their Closing Argument, it is the Defense Attorney’s opportunity to do a Closing Argument. A Defense Attorney will either argue to the jury how the defendant is innocent, or Not Guilty of the crime charged; or will argue that the prosecutor has failed in some way to prove “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt," that the defendant is Guilty.

Once the Defense Attorney has finished their Closing Argument, the prosecutor has a second opportunity to do a Closing Argument. This will be the last thing the jurors hear before they deliberate – discuss whether the defendant is Guilty or Not Guilty.

The prosecutor gets the last word because it is their burden to prove the defendant Guilty Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.

While the jury deliberates, everyone will just sit around and wait. There is no time limit on jury deliberations, but most juries will take between five minutes and six hours on any DUI case.

Again, if there is no unanimous agreement between all the jurors, and some jurors want to say that the defendant is Guilty, while others want to say the defendant is Not Guilty, and they are deadlocked, with no juror willing to change their minds, the judge will declare a mistrial, and the case starts all over again about a month later.

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