A Germantown DUI lawyer explains making the decision to testify in your DUI trial
If you are facing a DUI trial, you will have to consider whether or not you should testify. With the help of an experienced Germantown DUI lawyer, you should weigh the pros and cons of testifying. On one hand, you have the constitutional right not to testify. If you do, that will open the door for the prosecutor to cross-examine you. This is a huge reason why it’s not always best for you to testify.
On the flip side, it might be beneficial if the jury hears directly from you. The judge presiding over the trial will instruct the jury that you are to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Thus, the jury may not come to any unfavorable conclusions just because you failed to testify. However, more often than not, jurors disregard this instruction and draw negative inferences from your unwillingness to testify.
Jurors will want to hear from you because they want a direct and convincing explanation from you on issues such as why police officers claimed to have observed signs of intoxication or why breathalyzer or blood-alcohol test results were above the legal limit. At a DUI trial, you are also usually the only witness who can testify as to all the events and circumstances that occurred around and at the time of your arrest. Many times, you will be the only witness available for the defense.
You should also keep in mind that deciding whether or not to testify can affect other aspects of your case. In some jurisdictions, the defense attorney is not allowed to make an opening statement if the defense is not planning on presenting any evidence. Often, the only evidence will be the defendant’s testimony. This means that your case will usually come down to your word against the word of the police officer or your word against the breathalyzer machine or blood-alcohol test.
You may need to have expert witnesses at your DUI trial if you testify about your alcohol consumption. An expert will explain to the jury the meaning of your testimony. For example, if you testify that you drank four beers in three hours, and the breath-alcohol concentration (BrAC) level reads 0.15, an expert can explain to the jury that your pattern of beer consumption would indicate a result below the legal limit. Without the expert testimony, a jury might just conclude that drinking four beers in three hours can produce a 0.15 BrAC.
Making the decision to testify at your DUI trial can have huge consequences on your entire case. If you would like to speak to an experienced Germantown DUI lawyer, fill out the form on this page to contact the law offices of Vanden Heuvel & Dineen, S.C., for a free initial consultation.