What Actually Happens At Trial In A DUI Case?
The first step in the jury trial phase is jury selection. During jury selection both the prosecutor for the state and the defense attorney get the opportunity to question the jury. In a way it is sort of like a job interview. Both sides are trying to get jurors who are good for them and get rid of the jurors who are good for the other side.
- Next are opening statements. Both the prosecution and defense will have the opportunity to make brief statements about the case to the jury. The opening statement is often a summary of what they intend to show the jury during trial.
- After opening statements the prosecution will call all of their witnesses one by one to testify about facts which they have personal knowledge of about this case. This could include any person, citizen, or law enforcement officer. The defense attorney will have the opportunity to question (cross-examine) each witness who testifies for the prosecution.
- After the prosecution has presented all of its witnesses the defense may call its witnesses in support of the defense. The prosecution will have the opportunity to cross-examine all of the defense witnesses who testify.
- Once both parties have presented all of their evidence to the jury both prosecution and defense will give closing statements. A closing statement will usually be a brief summary of the argument and facts presented accompanied by a request to decide the case in their favor.
- The jury will then discuss (deliberate) the case in private. After coming to a unanimous decision the jury will announce the verdict in open court. If the defendant is found not guilty that will be the end of the case. If the defendant is found guilty they will come back on a later date for a sentencing hearing.
- A sentencing hearing is held after a defendant has been found guilty. The judge will sentence the defendant to either serve his time in jail or on probation.
Is The Sentence Harsher If Someone Is Found Guilty At Trial As Opposed To Taking A Plea Deal?
Typically the sentence given by the judge will be more severe than what was offered by the prosecutor during plea negotiations. That is the point of plea bargaining and the only way prosecutors can entice defendants to plea out their cases instead of taking them to trial. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes it is possible to beat the prosecutors offer even after being found guilty at trial. A skilled and experienced attorney can help you decide whether a trial or plea bargain is in your best interest.
Why Is It Important To Retain An Experienced DUI Defense Attorney For Your DUI Case?
Driving under the influence in Tennessee is a serious criminal charge and carries stiff punishment. Driving under the influence in Tennessee is an A misdemeanor. However, unlike most misdemeanor charges a DUI conviction has mandatory jail time even for first-time offenders. In Tennessee, it is possible to have most misdemeanor and some felony charges expunged from your permanent record through. However, if you are convicted of a driving under the influence charge in Tennessee, it can never be expunged from your criminal record. The only way for it to ever be expunged is by having the case dismissed. DUI charges in Tennessee are not eligible under T.C.A. 40-35-313 for judicial diversion either.
The punishment for driving under the influence is more severe than most other misdemeanor charges. If convicted, a first-offense DUI conviction in Tennessee generally results in a fine ($350-$1,500), suspension of driver’s license for one year, and a minimum of 48 hours in jail. If the driver had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .20% or greater, the minimum jail time is seven days. If the offender had minor in the vehicle at the time of the offense, the minimum sentence is increased by 30 days. The maximum sentence for a first DUI conviction is 11 months and 29 days.
The penalties continue to increase for successive DUI convictions. A second conviction carries a minimum of 45 days in jail and your driver’s license is suspended for two years. A third conviction for DUI has 120 days in jail as a minimum and a loss of license for six years. On the fourth driving under the influence offense, it goes from a misdemeanor to a felony and carries a minimum sentence of one year in jail.
For more information on DUI Trials In The State Of Tennessee, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (615) 864-6527 today.
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