Consider These Pre-Trial Issues Before Your DUI Trial

Posted by James Ferguson | Jun 15, 2018 | 0 Comments

DUI offenders rarely make it to trial unless the offense is connected to injuries or fatalities. A defendant who is charged with a DUI usually pleads out of court. A DUI plea deal “sweetens the pot” in exchange for the guilty plea. A DUI plea deal can include the lessening of the charge, a non-adjudication process that will result in expungement, or attending a driver's education program in exchange for jail time. Those who opt for a trial should prepare to decide on crucial pre-trial issues.

Jury or Bench Trial

Judges in Mississippi have discretion to permit a bench or jury trial even after the request of the defendant. Defendants should keep in mind that empanelling a jury can be an involved process. The court may also put more stock in a jury decision. As such, some judges may hand down harsher sentences to individuals who request a jury trial to match the rigor of the jury empanelling and deliberation processes.
Depending on the issues at play in a case, a jury trial may very well be the better path. Some issues resonate better with average people. Some attorneys find it much easier to present certain issues to a jury rather than to a seasoned judge. Defendants should have an honest conversation with their attorneys to decide whether a jury or bench trial is best in their particular case.

Motions to Suppress Evidence

A motion to suppress is a powerful tool defendants can use to block evidence from coming into the record. Issues such as unlawful search and seizure come into question during pre-trial motion to suppress hearings. For example, if a defendant was unlawfully given a breathalyzer test during a routine traffic stop, when the police officer did not have any probable cause to suspect that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol, then there is possibly an unlawful search issue. As such, the court can suppress any evidence flowing from the unlawful search (if the search is found to have been unlawfully conducted). The defendant should be prepared to carefully substantiate those claims should he or she choose to advance a motion to suppress.

Witness and Defendant Testimony

Before the trial, the defendant must decide whether they will call a witness and whether they will themselves testify. The defendant is better served to call an expert witness in a case, for example, that hinges on scientific analysis (e.g., whether a breathalyzer device was properly calibrated). Other witnesses such as passengers present during the commission of the alleged offense can also testify on behalf of the defendant. The defendant themselves may choose to testify. The defendant, however, should carefully consider this decision with an experienced attorney. Some defendants appear more sympathetic than others. A defense attorney may also base this decision on whether the trial is in front of a jury or a judge.
Mississippi DUI Defense Attorney

Are you seeking to fight your DUI charge? Contact Attorney James Robert Ferguson. He is an experienced DUI defense attorney with years of experience formulating unique DUI defense strategies. Call us now for a consultation.

See related blog posts:
Can I Expunge My Mississippi DUI Conviction?
Mississippi DUI: Should I Hire an Attorney for a First Offense?

About the Author

James Ferguson

I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. During college, I studied at East Tennessee State University, where I received a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice, which I then followed up with a Master's in Criminology from the University of Memphis. Before beginning my legal career, I worked as a Project Coordinator at the University of Memphis, where I assisted in training law enforcement officers in the Memphis Model of Crisis Intervention Training. The purpose of the project was to provide officers with the tools to deal with citizens in a state of mental crisis. I then went on to study law at the Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson. During law school, I clerked with Victor W. Carmody, Jr., the lawyer who wrote the book on DUI law in Mississippi. I am currently licensed to practice law in both Tennessee and Mississippi, and spend a majority of my time traveling the highways and biways of Mississippi defending those who have been charged with a DUI.


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