When a lawyer looks to defend a DUI charge, they need to take a totality of the circumstances approach because that is that approach that the prosecution will take in presenting the prosecutor’s side of the cases.
For an example, a defense attorney does not just want to focus on one thing, such as whether or not Miranda rights were violated. Most often it is seen that Miranda rights are not even read in a DUI case and people will focus on that fact, but you have got to remember that the prosecutor is going to ask the jury to consider the odor of alcohol, how the person was talking, and how they were driving.
The whole picture is to try to prove impairment and we have to look at the comprehensive picture as well and try to defeat every part of that. Additionally, lawyers look for other evidence that contradicts the police officer’s story. Remember that any time there is an arrest in DeKalb County or any other county for DUI, the primary witness is going to be a police officer, and from the time that officer detects any sign of impairment, it is game on. They are looking for evidence of impairment to prove their DUI charge.
In contrast, defense attorneys have to look for the holes there, where there is contradictory evidence, and where there are procedural defects.
Many times, attorneys are asked if a person should take their case before a judge or a jury for trial and that determination depends on the facts. Typically, if there is any reasonable doubt defense that the defense is trying to put forth, usually they should use a jury. A defense, however, is very technical, such as a challenge of the legality of the arrest, and normally attorneys would ask for trial before a judge.
It is usually found that judges tend to see people a little more leniently who do a trial in front of a judge only if the person is found guilty as opposed to a jury trial being found guilty. The idea of being the person who comes before the judge has really invoked their minimal right to a trial and has taken up less of the court’s time so the judges sort of reward that behavior.
It is doubtful that any judge alive will ever admit that they punish people for taking the case to a jury trial but that is sort of how it feels. If it is a reasonable doubt case, the defense generally wants to do that with the jury, but if it is a technical defense, then the defense wants to have a judge trial.
To defend a DUI charge in DeKalb County, we have to do a thorough investigation. That means more than just getting the police report and any arrest video footage. An attorney will likely want to dig deeper within that, to include getting the officer’s training records to see if he or she is current in their DUI training, and if they are current in their certificate, to administer breath testing.
An attorney may want to perhaps pull up a radio dispatch log or 911 tapes to get copies of any reports from road blocks. They are looking for anything that will provide a technical defense to the charge, such as being able to show that a roadblock was conducted illegally, a traffic stop was improper, or a reasonable doubt defense, such as inconsistent reports versus the arrest video.