Driving under the influence is one of the most common criminal charges. It’s also a serious charge unlike speeding or running a stoplight. It’s not one of those traffic violations for which you can just pay a ticket and move on with your life. You will be arrested if you’re suspected of a DUI. Therefore, you will have to appear before a judge to determine how your case will proceed. Not every case goes to trial, but many accused people choose to exercise their right to a trial. When you contact a DUI attorney in Atlanta, they will assess your case and make the appropriate recommendations. They will advise you on whether you should plead guilty or not.
Deciding How to Plead in a Georgia DUI Case
Several types of evidence are presented in DUI cases. These include the officer’s testimony regarding their observations before, after and during an arrest. The results of any field sobriety tests or chemical tests will also be used against you. An experienced DUI lawyer will know how to defend you against the charges. If you’re truly innocent, they will fight for you. If there was a technical error on the part of the police, they will use this to your advantage. They will anticipate the actions of the prosecutor and use their experience and knowledge to advise you.
If you plead guilty, it means you accept the state’s charges against you. your case would not need to go to trial. Once the judge accepts your guilty plea, they will sentence you accordingly. You may face jail time, heavy fines, community service, DUI school, and other penalties.
Depending on the circumstances, your lawyer may be able to obtain a plea bargain. You would have to plead guilty to a lesser charge and accept less harsh penalties. Whether it’s better to plead not guilty to the DUI or admit to a less serious offense is case-specific. A lot depends on whether your DUI lawyer in Atlanta, GA believes the prosecution will be able to prove their case against you.
If you plead not guilty, your case may go to trial. If you’re charged with misdemeanor DUI, you’ll face a six-member jury or only a judge in a bench trial. As you weigh your options, keep in mind that it may take up to a year before your trial begins. That’s because there’s a backlog in DUI cases.
What Happens at Trial
Because of the severe penalties associated with a DUI, many drivers opt to fight the charges. However, prosecutors tend to be aggressive in these cases because of how strongly society feels about drunk drivers. If you go to trial, you can expect the state to push hard for a conviction.
Prior to the trial, your lawyer will file pre-trial motions aimed at helping you avoid conviction. These motions include efforts to suppress certain pieces of evidence collected by the prosecution. If they poke enough holes in the state’s case, the judge could dismiss the case before the trial starts. Otherwise, the trial will begin once the jury is selected.
The onus is on the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of driving under the influence. After they set out their case via witnesses and evidence, your lawyer can cross-examine the witnesses and counter the evidence. The prosecution can also cross-examine your witnesses. After each side delivers its closing remarks, the jury will deliberate. If the state can’t prove all the elements of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt, the jury should return a verdict of not guilty.
Contact the Georgia DUI Lawyers at Howard & Arca
DUI cases can be quite complex and the process from arrest to verdict can belong. You need to seek advice and representation from experienced Georgia DUI lawyers. They will help you decide whether you should fight the charges or plead guilty. The outcome of the case will depend on a range of factors including your blood alcohol content, the actions of the arresting officer, and your DUI history.
In some cases, you may be able to get the charges dismissed or reduced. However, even if you plead guilty or a jury convicts you, a competent attorney may be able to get your punishment reduced. Call the lawyers at Howard & Arca as soon as possible after your arrest and we’ll do everything we can to help you. We’ll work hard to get you the best possible result whether you were arrested wrongfully or you made a dangerous mistake.