Manassas DUI Trial Process
If a Manassas DUI case is going to trial, that means that there has been a plea of not guilty entered by the defendant or their Manassas DUI defense lawyer and that there has not been a plea bargain reached in the case. Whenever there is a circumstance where there is not a resolution of the case prior to trial, then it is going to be up to the judge to make a decision as to the outcome of the case after they have heard evidence and argument from both sides.
A case can be resolved before trial and in many instances that is in fact what happens. There is always an opportunity before trial to meet with the prosecutor as well as the charging police officer and discuss what options there are for resolving the matter without a trial.
In some cases, it will be a voluntary dismissal by the government. In other cases, it will be a compromise of some kind, which involves either reduced charges or an agreed disposition to the charges as they exist.
Opening Statements and Arguments
Opening statements are going to relate to the attorneys—both for the government as well as for the defense—telling the judge what they believe the facts will show and what evidence they plan to present.
Opening arguments can be long and contain a lot of information or they can be relatively short. Once opening arguments are made, the first side to go will be the government. At that point, they are going to call witnesses and, in a DUI trial, this will at a minimum include the officer who made the arrest in the case.
Presentation of Evidence
In addition to the arresting officer, the government may also call any officers that performed the breath test. In the case of a blood test, they may call the individual who performed the blood test, as well as the technician who did the analysis of the blood itself from the Department of Forensics.
Each witness that is called may be cross examined by the defense attorney and so while testimony is being given, the defense attorney is paying attention to what is being said so that questions can be asked of those witnesses.
In addition, the Commonwealth will typically, through one of its witnesses, introduce evidence of what the blood alcohol level of the defendant was—or in a DUI drug case, any other drugs or intoxicants that were in their system. At the end of the government’s evidence, the defense has an opportunity to put on its own case.
The Defense’s Case
In the event that the defendant chooses to put on its own evidence, it may call witnesses and may also introduce evidence before the court.
The kinds of evidence that the defense might seek to introduce would include things like expert testimony that there is some flaw in the process that the government undertook, such as that it had a defective breathalyzer machine or that there was some other technical error that occurred.
While this is going on, the attorney for the government, which in Virginia is called the Commonwealth’s attorney, is also paying careful attention because they will have an opportunity to then cross examine the defense witnesses.
Once the defense has rested, the government then has an opportunity to present rebuttal evidence to refute any evidence that was put in during the defendant’s case. The defendant will then have an opportunity to do what is called surrebuttal to refute any evidence that came in during rebuttal.
Once that process is complete, there will be closing arguments where the attorney for the defendant and the attorney for the government summarize the evidence that has been put in front of the court and make arguments to the judge as to what the legal impact of the evidence is.
They will argue about what kinds of evidence was believable and what evidence they believe was not believable, as well as what they think the outcome of the case should be.
Once closing arguments are complete, the judge will make a ruling on the case and, if there is a finding of guilty, will immediately impose punishment.
Length of a DUI Trial
Most DUI trials take no more than an hour to complete. In some cases where there are complicated technical issues, they can take all the way up to a day. This is going to be more typical in felony DUI cases, but it is very unusual for them to take more than that.