When you are charged with a DUI, whether it is a first-time offense or a subsequent one, it is important that you get help from a criminal defense lawyer who has experience with defending against drunk driving charges. Throughout your case, your attorney will advise you concerning different actions you should take. If you end up choosing to go to trial, you will be told that it is your decision whether or not to testify in your defense. There are multiple reasons why your attorney is likely to advise you to not testify, and you should listen to him or her.
TESTIFYING SUBJECTS YOU TO CROSS-EXAMINATION
When you choose to testify, the prosecutor will be able to cross-examine you. Prosecutors are highly skilled at asking questions in such a way as to make you confused. They may use their questions to back you into a corner or to say something you didn’t truly mean. This can make you appear less credible to a jury, and credibility is very important when you are on trial.
IT IS DIFFICULT TO PROVE YOU ARE INNOCENT
There is a reason that the Constitution places the burden of proof on prosecutors to prove their cases beyond a reasonable doubt. The public generally has a belief that people who are charged with crimes are guilty of them. When you testify, it takes the burden off of the prosecutor to prove his or her case beyond a reasonable doubt in the jury’s mind and instead places their focus squarely on you.
THE JURY JUDGES BOTH WHAT YOU SAY AND HOW YOU ACT
When you testify, if you are perceived to be too aggressive while you are on the stand, a jury may believe you are lying. Some people also get nervous on the stand with shaking voices. This can also make a jury doubt your honesty. Making too much or too little eye contact has the same effect as well. If they believe you are simply trying to talk your way out of your situation, they are much less likely to believe you and are more likely to find you guilty even if the prosecutor may not have fully met his or her burden of proof in the case.
PREVENTING DIFFICULT FACTS OR YOUR PAST FROM BEING USED AGAINST YOU
Your lawyer works hard to keep certain pieces of information out of evidence. If you testify, you may have to answer questions about difficult facts that might otherwise not have been brought forward to the jury. If you have a problematic criminal record, it may be used against you by the prosecutor during cross-examination as well.
AN EXAMPLE OF A PERSON WHO TESTIFIED IN HER OWN DEFENSE
One example of a person testifying in her own defense is Marjorie Heitzell, a 55-year-old woman who went to trial in a DUI accident that caused two fatalities. She was charged with second-degree murder and gross vehicular manslaughter for each person who died. Ms. Heitzell struck and killed two pedestrians before crashing into a car with teenagers in it and then into a tree. At her trial, she tried to tell the jury that despite all of that, she is able to drive in a safe manner while she is intoxicated. The jury didn’t believe her and found her guilty, exposing her to a sentence of 36 years to life in prison.
GETTING LEGAL HELP
When you are charged with driving while intoxicated, getting skilled help from a criminal defense lawyer is very important. Choosing Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange County’s leading DUI defense law firm of Scott D. Henry may help you to be able to successfully resolve your case. Mr. Henry is an aggressive and skilled litigator who understands how to analyze the facts of his clients’ cases in order to build the best defense cases available. He then uses high-level negotiation skills to try to secure favorable pleas. If a plea is not an option, he will fight for you through trial. By retaining him and then following his advice, you may have a better outcome to your case. Call us today to schedule your consultation and to learn more about the rights you have in your case.