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How Often Do DUI Cases Go To Trial?

Percentage wise, very few cases actually go to trial because it would be a matter of having a good enough legal or factual issue to actually take the case to trial, along with actually having the funds to do that. Probably, somewhere around 1 or 2% of cases actually make their way to trial, whereas the vast majority of cases end up in a plea agreement with another small percentage ending in the dismissal of the case in full.

Sometimes, there really would not be any risk involved in taking the case to trial but it would just be a matter of the financial aspect where it would often not necessarily be worth it for someone to pay thousands of dollars extra to take the case all the way to trial if there wasn’t a good likelihood they would win.

The public defender would probably end up going to trial more often than a private attorney simply because there would be no additional funds required when taking the case to trial with a public defender.

Do Most DUI Attorneys Try To Avoid Going To Trials?

This would depend on the individual DUI defense lawyer. Unfortunately, a lot of attorneys are simply interested in their own pay day so they recommend their clients to go to trial and they tell them what they want to hear just so they would keep paying them and so they could get more money.

I usually advise my clients that I do not think it would be worth it for them to pay me additional money to take the case to trial. When I represent my clients, I do what I call a Case Review, which would usually be a five to 10 page email letting my client know all my thoughts on the case. I would lay out my reasoning for why I felt they should or should not go to trial.

It would ultimately be my client’s decision, because I do not feel it would be appropriate to feed them lies or give them false hope in thinking they could win a trial if I did not think they could win.

What Is The Criteria To Decide To Take A Case To Trial Versus Taking The Plea?

When I meet with people, I can usually get a pretty good sense of whether or not the case would be more likely to go towards a trial, although this would not mean that the case would actually make it to the trial.

One of the biggest determining factors is whether or not the person was asleep in their vehicle while they were parked on the side of the road or parked in a parking lot. These cases tend to be the ones where I need to advise my clients that there was a stronger likelihood of having to go to trial because there is also a stronger likelihood that I should be able to get the case dismissed ahead of time.

One of the defenses against DUI charges in Arizona is the “Shelter Rule defense and this would apply if someone was in a parking lot and they were asleep. This rule basically says that as a society, we want to encourage people who are too drunk to be driving to pull over to the side of the road or pull into a parking lot and sleep off the affects of alcohol or find another way home.

Unfortunately, officers are still looking for that type of scenario and they are arresting people and charging them with DUIs. My objective as an attorney would be to get the case dismissed, and in fact I was able to get dismissed the last two cases I had under those circumstances, which saved my client a lot of money. In fact I ended up refunding them money because I felt that I ethically had not earned enough to warrant me keeping the money they paid.

During the case before this one however, the prosecutors were not as willing to dismiss the case, whereas I had told them from the very beginning that the case should be dismissed or else they would lose. The prosecutors felt differently so we ended up having to go to trial on that. There was no way I would have my client take a plea agreement to a DUI when they were innocent. They had done exactly what they were supposed to do.

Unfortunately, that case had to go all the way to trial, but fortunately at trial, I was able to convince the jury that my client was innocent so they found him not guilty on all charges and completely acquitted him.

Sometimes the cases that really should be dismissed are the ones that end up being more likely to go to trial because as an attorney I simply cannot recommend for my client to take a plea agreement to something they did not do. It would always be up to the client whether or not they wanted to take a plea agreement even if I had advised them it would be in their best interest to go to trial.

I would not be able to stop my client from taking the plea agreement, but this is the type of case where it would be more of a strong recommendation to actually go to trial and take a risk on being found guilty by a jury with the belief that the jury should find that person not guilty on all accounts.

Should Someone Go To Trial Simply Because They Did Not Like The Plea Offer?

Realistically, the client could decide whatever reason they wanted to go to trial. I have represented police officers, politicians and legislators and other people who just cannot have a conviction on their record, so even if they had a horrible case, they would want any chance or possibly to not have a conviction on their record.

During my career, I have handled at least 2 cases where I had told them it was not worth it to go to trial because I did not see the likelihood of wining and that I thought it was a waste of time and waste of money, but they still insisted, so we went to trial and then something went wrong during the trial for those two cases and they ended up walking free because the prosecutor had either made a mistake or else they did not show up.

The client would not have to explain their reasoning for why they wanted to go to trial, because it would be their constitutional right to go to trial. I would only be able to advise them with respect to my thoughts about them going to trial and what their options would be so they could make a fully informed decision on how they wanted to proceed. It would be perfectly fine if they wanted to go to trial and it would be perfectly fine if they wanted to take a plea agreement.

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