In that event that a negotiated outcome cannot be reached your case will go to trial. You are entitled to a trial by jury but sometimes for strategic reasons it may be wise to waive the jury and have a “bench” trial. In a bench trail the judge will be the only individual to determine your innocence or guilt. A trial is your DUI attorney’s opportunity to expose any shortcomings in the evidence and persuade the jury or the judge that the government has not met their burden (proof beyond a reasonable doubt) and a finding of guilt cannot be made.
If there is a jury trial, the first step in the process is to select a jury. In Washington, DUI cases are heard by a panel of six (6) jurors. You and your attorney have the ability to affect which jurors will be hearing your case during the jury selection process known as voir dire. After jury selection, each side presents its opening statements. Then the state presents its case first.
In its case in chief, the prosecutor will call witnesses to testify. They may include civilians who witnessed the incident, the arresting officer, a Washington State Patrol Breath BAC Datamaster Technician and employees of the Washington State Toxicologist’s lab. Each witness will be cross examined by your attorney and possibly re-directed by the state. Once the state rests its case, it’s your lawyers turn to present your case.
Since the government carries the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to gain a conviction, there is not burden on you to present any evidence whatsoever. If there are witnesses who support your case, your attorney will call them to testify. You may be called to testify if your attorney thinks it’s in the best interest of your defense. You are not required to testify as you have the right to remain silent. If you are to testify, it will only be after careful consideration of the pros and cons of such a decision.
After your attorney rests your case, closing arguments are made, the jury is instructed and then the jury deliberates.
It is important to realize that the burden of proof is on the government. If they are unable to show that any of the statutory elements of the crime were not proven then a finding of guilt cannot be made. There is always a risk of conviction at trial but in most cases, the risks are not any greater than if you were to plead guilty.