Two types of trials are available in DWI cases: bench trials and jury trials. In Midland DWI jury trials, both a judge and jurors are involved. The judge decides matters of law and the jurors decide matters of facts and evidence. In a bench trial, the judge does everything.
For help with your DWI case, reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney. They could examine the unique facts of your case and provide sound advice about the best type of trial for you.
Advantages of Jury vs. Bench Trials
Per the U.S. Constitution, criminal defendants have a right to a jury trial. Juries are typically made up of 12 individuals who evaluate the evidence. At a bench trial, one individual assesses the evidence and interprets the laws. A judge is usually more educated than most jurors, knows more about the law, and focuses on the law as it applies to the case. With jurors, one can play on emotions. Jurors are more understanding in circumstances that might have led to a DWI, whereas a judge might be stricter to the rule of law.
Common traits of a DWI case that could motivate a criminal defense lawyer to suggest a trial by a jury are the:
- Severity of the DWI
- History of the presiding judge’s decisions on similar cases
- Phase of the trial
At the punishment phase, sometimes the defense attorney recommends going to a judge if they are known to be more lenient. If a judge is known to be severe with DWI cases, the defense may go to a jury for punishment.
Downsides to a Jury Trial
The potential disadvantages of a jury trial for a DWI case are:
- Members of a jury do not have formal training in the functions of a jury
- Jurors might be easily influenced by theatrics over substance
- Jurors may become emotionally involved in making a decision
- A jury trial may take more time than a bench trial which means more expense
- Juries can be unpredictable
The outcome of a bench trial is decided by one individual, the judge. Judges tend to be more sophisticated, more educated, and adhere more strictly to the rule of law as opposed to jurors who might be more understanding.
Jury Selection Process
Voir dire is the process by which prosecutors and attorneys select jury members. Potential jurors are questioned about their backgrounds and possible biases before being selected to sit on a jury. During voir dire, both parties are allowed to ask certain questions that might help a defense and the prosecution pick a jury of their peers. The process of voir dire is similar to a pre-trial where attorneys may ask questions to get a feel for the jurors.
Benefits of a Local Attorney
When someone is charged with a DWI and must make a decision about whether to take their case to trial, it is most helpful to have a local DWI lawyer. One of the benefits of working with a local lawyer is that they usually have a good rapport with the DAs, which makes the process smoother from the beginning of negotiations through the trial. A local lawyer knows the ins and outs of the areas, the roads, the law enforcement officers, other attorneys, and the prosecutors.
A local attorney may also have a networking system that allows them to call other attorneys for insights into specific officers or prosecutor. A lawyer from out of town may not be familiar with the court system and might not know the bailiff, court coordinators, or judges. A local attorney has better rapport and may get better results at trial.
Contact a Midland DWI Lawyer
For help making the right decisions about your case, contact a dedicated DWI attorney today. They could explain the advantages and disadvantages of Midland DWI jury trials and put their courtroom skills to work on your behalf. Call today to schedule a case review and begin building a defense.