When facing charges of a DUI, it is only natural to want a trial that will yield the best possible outcome for you. A knowledgeable DUI attorney can help you determine whether a jury trial or bench trial would benefit you. Having the sympathy of the jurors can be instrumental in building your DUI case. If you want to know more about Atlanta DUI jury trials, speak with a lawyer that can help you make an informed decision.
Differences Between Bench and Jury Trials
The difference between a bench trial and a jury trial is that a bench trial is done before a Trier of Fact, like a judge. Atlanta DUI jury trials are done in front of six peers from the community who are chosen to hear the case. A felony trial would have 12 jurors. The majority of cases will be decided by a jury. The City of Atlanta Municipal Court does not have jurisdiction to do jury trials. The only jury trials given in Atlanta are done in Fulton County State Court.
Under What Circumstances Will a DUI Lawyer Suggest One Over the Other?
The circumstances under which a lawyer will recommend Atlanta DUI jury trials depends upon the facts of the case. If something is incredibly egregious, such as prior offenses, maybe a bench trial might be best if the case was assigned to a favorable judge who might be willing to listen. Most judges are probably not the best to hear a trial.
The majority of cases are probably better heard by a jury. However, there are always exceptions to that rule. If a person gets a judge who is reasonable, they may want to bench-try the case. If a person has a set of facts that he thinks could go either way, it may be easier to convince six people rather than simply one of innocence or guilt. It varies upon the judge and the facts of the case to make a determination. An experienced lawyer knows the judges, knows the facts, and can make that intelligent decision afterward.
Jury Selection Process
The jury selection process in a criminal case involves bringing 20 people or less into a room and undergo a process known as voir dire (preliminary questions asked of potential jurors by the attorneys or judge).
These begin with general questions about their background, their family, their experiences with attorneys and/or courts, and then questions specific to their experience in life, i.e. do they know anyone who was injured by a drunk driver or anyone unfairly treated by the police, things like that when asked to elaborate.
Hopefully, the attorneys will obtain get enough information to determine whether the jurors will be a fair and unbiased person who can hear the case. Jurors, like everybody in the world, can come into a case with a certain bias. The key to voir dire in a jury trial situation is to try and identify that bias and determine whether they can be fair or not.
Advantages of a Jury Trial in a DUI Case
Generally, most cases will be better served by having a jury hear them. However, there are some jurisdictions where a trial can result in a harder penalty rather than a bench trial. Atlanta DUI jury trials take longer and judges may decide to punish somebody for having a jury trial rather than a bench trial or a guilty plea. That being said, it probably makes sense in many cases to simply have a jury trial rather than a bench.
Furthermore, it is not illegal to drink and drive in and of itself and, as a result, many jurors have been in that position before and are willing to at least listen to the facts of the case. Jurors are oftentimes sympathetic to a person’s plight. As a result, a jury can use common sense and experience. A judge who has heard that same police officer testify 25, 30 times, may be more disposed to believe what the officer says rather than a jury who has never heard that officer testify before.
There are no downsides to Atlanta DUI jury trials unless a person thinks that the facts are so prejudicial that no one could be fair with them. The downside could be that a judge might punish a person a little bit harder for taking up a day or two of their time rather than coming in and accepting responsibility for a plea. A judge may find that a person wasted the court’s time and can stick them in jail for that. Harder penalties are really the only negative aspect of a jury trial.
Benefits of Working an Atlanta DUI Lawyer
A local lawyer knows the jurisdiction, knows the judges, knows the prosecutors, and can make a better determination of the facts. They may have relationships with the police and can determine the likelihood of the success or failure of the case. If you have been charged with a DUI and you want to know more about the benefits and drawbacks of Atlanta DUI jury trials, speak with a qualified Atlanta DUI lawyer. An experienced criminal defense attorney can work with you to fight for the best possible outcome.