If you are currently facing charges for driving under the influence, or DUI, in Omaha, Nebraska, you will eventually have to decide how best to resolve your case. Unless the State decides to dismiss your case, your options will be limited to accepting a plea agreement with the State or taking your case to trial by judge or jury. If you decide to go the trial route, your attorney will need to prepare for that trial. If you have never been through a criminal trial before, you may wonder how Omaha DUI lawyers prepare for trial. While every DUI case presents a unique set of circumstances for the lawyer to work with, there are some steps that most DUI lawyers take when preparing for a trial.
Deciding to Go to Trial
The decision to take a DUI case to trial is a serious decision that should only be made after lengthy consultation with your Omaha DUI defense attorney and considerable contemplation by you. The outcome of a trial is never assured, meaning you could be acquitted or convicted. Moreover, if you are convicted you will not know what your sentence is until the judge decides. In addition, you may have yet another decision to make once you have decided to go to trial. You may need to decide if you want a judge or jury to decide your fate. There are advantages and disadvantages to each option. Sometimes the specific facts of a case make one option better than the other. Your attorney will be able to provide you with advice on the subject; however, major decisions in your case, such as this, must ultimately be made by you. Once the decision has been made though, it is time to buckle down and get ready for trial.
How Omaha DUI Lawyers Prepare for Trial
Although no two cases are the same, there are a number of similarities in most DUI cases. For example, most DUI cases involve test results from a chemical test. Therefore, many of the steps that Omaha DUI lawyers take when preparing for a DUI trial are similar as well, including:
- Reviewing the Evidence — preparing for any trial begins with reviewing the evidence that State has against the defendant. The trial rules require the prosecutor to “discover” any evidence the State plans to use against you at trial. Your attorney should have all of this evidence before you even make the decision to take your case to trial. As such, your attorney will already have reviewed it; however, he/she will go over it again looking for inconsistencies or errors. Your attorney will have to decide how to handle each piece of evidence – whether to challenge it, present evidence to rebut it, or simply try to limit its effectiveness at trial.
- Interviewing witnesses – in a DUI case, the primary witness is usually the arresting officer. Your attorney might schedule a deposition, which is an opportunity to question the witness under oath to find out what they plan to say at trial. This is done so that your attorney can be prepared to cross-examine any State’s witnesses.
- Hiring expert witnesses – in some DUI cases an expert witness is helpful, particularly if your attorney plans to challenge the results of the chemical test. An expert may also be needed if the State plans to call one for any reason. Juries tend to give a significant amount of weight to expert testimony so if the State plans to call one at trial, you need one to contradict what the State’s expert says.
- Preparing you to testify – often, the most important part of trial preparation is preparing the defendant for trial. You are not required to testify. Often, it is best for the defendant not to testify; however, if you are planning to take the stand you need to be prepared because the prosecutor will have the opportunity to cross-examine you. Your attorney may spend a considerable amount of time practicing with you so that you are able to answer questions without your emotions getting the better of you and without adding additional information to your answer that could hurt your defense.