The MacNeil Firm Ltd.

Are Most DUI Trials Jury Trials Or Bench Trials?


Deciding on a bench or jury trial depends on the evidence. The judge and the jury are called triers of fact. In other words, they are listening to the evidence and making the decision of guilty or not guilty. Overall, if the issue in the case is a question of facts, I would prefer a jury to hear the case. If the main issue in the case is the question of law, I would prefer a bench trial, or trial by judge. For instance, let us just say that evidence requires the trier of fact to make a credibility determination between a police officer and my client, or some other defense witnesses.

In other words, in order to find my client not guilty the judge or the jury has to believe our witnesses and think that the police are lying. With this type of case I would probably take to a jury. Conversely, if my defense was a legal argument based on some sort of legal precedent or some other law, I would probably pick a bench trial. My client makes the ultimate decision with my help of course, but it is completely based on the facts of the case.

Is The Sentence Imposed Upon Conviction Harsher Than What Was Offered In The Plea Deal?

It is possible that the sentence could be harsher after trial. If a person is convicted by either a judge or a jury they will get sentenced by the judge. After a conviction, the judge will choose any of the possible penalties and punishments that are available for sentencing. It is possible that a sentence after a trial could be more severe than if a plea agreement was worked up before trial. There is no way to predict that, but in the event of a conviction and if my client is found guilty, I work harder to make every effort to obtain a minimal and lenient sentence even after a conviction.

How Important Is It To Realize The Consequences Associated With A DUI Conviction?

Realizing the consequences with a DUI conviction, is one of the most important aspects of a case. It is where a lot of lawyers fall short. I go to great lengths and spend lots of time to make sure that my clients understand all their options, as well as the pros and cons of each of those options. Sometimes this requires multiple office meetings, but I make sure that I have answered every question before they make that decision. In my opinion, it is impossible to make a truly informed judgment if you do not know all the facts and options.

Can Someone Afford To Go To Trial For A DUI Case?

Going to trial generally does require additional legal fees, because it takes a significant additional amount of time and preparation to get ready to present a bench or jury trial. Not to mention the additional time that it takes in court. A jury trial, even a relatively simple jury trial, will probably take up to three days, and during that time I am not doing anything else other than working on this particular client’s case. That means I am in court for seven to eight hours a day, as long as the judge will let us continue. After that and obviously before, I am always preparing. And after court, I am already preparing for the following day. It does require additional legal fees, but that is just based on the amount of time and effort that it requires to properly present a jury trial. The question should be, can someone afford not to go to trial after looking at the potential long term consequences.

Do Most DUI Defendants Want To Go To Trial?

Most DUI defendants do not want to go to trial. Most people think they know what a trial is because of what they have watched on TV or in the movies, and that has almost no basis to reality. You have people who say “I definitely don’t want to go to trial”. I have other people that say “I definitely don’t want to plead guilty”. Those people that come in with those types of preconceived notions sometimes end up doing the opposite. My job is to educate my clients and make sure that they understand everything and understand the realities of going to trial, and the pros and cons of each of those decisions. Once they have that information, then they can make an educated opinion as to whether going to trial is right for them or not.

What Are The Important Things People Should Know About DUI Trials?

The most important thing is to get an attorney that will evaluate the evidence for you and make sure that you understand all of your rights and options. You cannot make an informed decision if you do not understand the evidence or the options, and you do not understand the pros and cons of each of those. But if your lawyer explains everything to you properly and I make sure that my clients understand everything, every aspect about their case, once my clients have that information, then they can make an informed decision, and usually that is the right decision, whatever we decide.

For more information on Jury Trial & Bench Trial, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (815) 290-9170 today.

Donald N. Macneil, Esq.

Get your questions answered - Call now for FREE case evaluation (815) 290-9170.

Request Free Case Evaluation