Hampton Roads DUI Jury Trial

In the State of Virginia, there are two main types of DUI trials including jury trials and bench trials. In a bench trial, a judge will hear all the evidence and testimony, and make a decision, whereas, in a jury trial, the jury is tasked with the decision of guilt or innocence.

A skilled DUI attorney could help decide whether a Hampton Roads DUI jury trial or a bench trial may work best for their client. A tenacious attorney could review the evidence and help their client make the best decision for their situation.

What Is The Difference Between a Bench Trial and a Jury Trial?

The decision of whether a case should be heard by a judge or jury often has to do with the elements of the case. If there are no breath tests or no chemical analysis, a jury trial may be best. Juries and people tend to lean on science because it can be proven. Juries do not hear these types of cases regularly and they do not have the experience that judges have, so they are going to lean more on their experiences and their history than the legal background that the judge would. A jury could understand what the legal limit of alcohol is, and if the number is over the legal limit they could make a reasonable decision. Without a breath test, there may not be enough evidence and they may be a little more likely to find that person not guilty of driving under the influence.

The Consequences of a Jury Trial

Jury trials are more expensive than a bench trial, so if a person is found guilty, they have to pay an additional fee for each juror, which can get expensive. The other consequence of a jury trial is that juries do not handle these types of cases very often and lack experience in these types of matters. In Virginia, however, they are given the power to pronounce sentence, with or without experience.

In a bench trial, most judges may not sentence jail time on a first offense DUI, but there is no guarantee that the jury is going to do that. Depending upon the fact patterns, a jury can give up to 12 months in jail, if they find a person guilty of a misdemeanor.

The Jury Selection Process

When picking a jury, the court will bring in a panel of possible jurors. They are asked general background questions regarding:

  • Their personal history to make sure they are eligible to serve on a jury
  • Whether they know anybody involved in the present case
  • Do they have any sort of experience with these types of case, either accused with a similar charge or they were a victim in a similar case

After the background questions, the prosecution and a skilled defense attorney have the opportunity to ask questions of the jurors to ensure that they are qualified to handle the case.

How an Attorney Could Help With a Hampton Roads DUI Jury Trial

It would be in the best interest of any person charged with a crime to elicit the help of a local defense attorney. Local attorneys are more familiar with the juries and the judges and will give a person an idea of what result they can expect, depending on which direction they decide to take the case. They are most helpful in deciding what the defendant’s best course of action would be, giving a better understanding of that jurisdiction.

To learn more about the differences between a Hampton Roads DUI Jury Trial or a bench trial, schedule a consultation today.