DUI cases aren’t easy – especially when DUI accident attorneys find themselves defending a case where there are various negative facts stacked up against a client. If you’ve found yourself in this situation, there are certain things you can do to help win over the jury and protect your clients’ rights.
Below, we’ve put together some of the top things you should know to successfully defend someone in a DUI case – and could be helpful if you’re an accident lawyer too. Knowing these can make big steps toward winning a case – and best of all, will help your client move on with their life after a trial like this:
- Be professional and polite – Being courteous, professional, and polite can go a long way in a courtroom – especially when it comes to appealing to the jury. Consider the following tips:
- Don’t whine or grimace during negative testimony about your client – It is what it is, and you’ll have the opportunity to address this testimony later in the trial.
- Dress appropriately and tell your client to do the same – Avoid anything too flashy; instead, keep the dress professional and jewelry and accessories to a minimum.
- Don’t be afraid to smile – If something humorous comes up during the trial, don’t be afraid to smile or chuckle softly if the judge and opposing side are doing the same.
- Make a strong, impactful opening statement – The opening statement is designed to present the defendant’s side of the story, and this is the perfect opportunity to do so. A powerful statement at the onset of the trial will immediately strike against the jury’s presumption of guilt. Use this time to reveal facts that the other side can’t change. For example: If the police report states that your client passed the field sobriety test, let the jury know that – and tell them the officer will confirm the same, as stated in the police report.
- Emphasize your client’s cooperation – Cooperation can go a long way. If your client was cordial when interacting with the police officer, be sure to let the jury know. Cooperative people are viewed in a much more positive light.
- Keep it simple – Jurors can make an easier decision if they understand exactly what happened and why. Keep your defense simple – this will be much more effective with the jury than an elaborate story.
- Find a villain – Whether the police officer, field sobriety tests, or even a poorly designed road, find a villain in your story – anything to make the villain not be your client.
- Clearly explain blood alcohol and breath tests – Many individuals off the street don’t know what’s involved with these tests. Discuss how the process works and the science behind it to keep the jury informed.
- Tell jurors what you want – This is perhaps the most important of all. You’ve worked hard on this case – it would be a mistake to not tell them exactly what you want in the end. If you want them to acquit your client of all charges, make that very clear.
4 Ways to Deal With Negative Facts
Any facts that put a negative light on your client can be tricky, but definitely not impossible. If you find yourself in the position of defending especially incriminating facts, consider the following strategies:
- Put the bad facts last – By telling your client’s story and putting the bad facts last, you’ll help put the case into context. Your foundation should create a story (and justification) of why the bad fact happened.
- Surround bad facts with good facts – As an alternative, you could surround any bad facts with good ones to minimize its impact. Basically, point out to the jury all the good things your client did that aren’t consistent with being under the influence of alcohol. This lets the jury know there’s more to the story.
- Compare bad facts to even worse – Comparing a bad fact to something worse (or something that could have happened) can lessen the impact. For example: Although the client swerved while on the road, he didn’t cut across four lanes of traffic and crash the car. He simply went a few feet out of his lane.
- Attack a related fact done by the other side – If none of the above methods work for you, consider attacking the bad fact with a related fact done by the other side. For example: The client weaved out of his lane, but was distracted by the lights of the officer who was following too closely.
Cases like these aren’t easy, but making use of some of the above tips can go a long way toward helping you win the trial.