You are facing DUI charges – do you call a lawyer? This is a question that many people are forced to answer after they are arrested for a drunk driving offense. Many people are concerned about the expense of hiring a lawyer, or even about how to find a lawyer they can trust who will truly represent them. Some defendants who are accused are also confident that they can handle the case on their own, especially if they plan to just plead guilty to the charges.
The court will allow you to handle your DUI case without a lawyer. Unfortunately, effective DUI defense requires a great deal of specialized knowledge. Even if you think you likely will be convicted, there may be many defenses you can raise to avoid a guilty verdict and you may also be able to negotiate a plea bargain that allows for a lesser penalty. To have the best chance at a favorable outcome, it is important to call an attorney as soon as you can after your arrest. The Law Offices of Steven E. Kellis is here to help you.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a DWI Case?
When you face criminal charges, you always have the right to an attorney. In fact, this is one of the rights that police will inform you of when they read your Miranda warning after your arrest. The reason you have the right to a lawyer is because the U.S. court system has many complicated legal requirements. To get a fair trial, you need someone who understands how the criminal justice system works and who understands the steps that you need to take to protect your constitutional rights and to defend yourself.
For example, if your Fourth Amendment rights are violated and you were searched illegally, you will need to file a pre-trial motion with the court arguing that evidence should be suppressed. Understanding exactly how to write a motion, support your argument with legal precedent and convince the judge to keep the evidence out of court requires an understanding of past case law and of civil procedure rules within the court system. If you don’t have this knowledge, illegally obtained evidence could be used to take your freedom and leave you with a criminal conviction.
Can You Represent Yourself in a Drunk Driving Trial?
Although you have the right to an attorney, you don’t have to exercise this right and you can defend yourself. This is called pro se representation. You will need to study the laws applicable to drunk driving cases and will need to make informed choices at every step of the way. Some of the different things you need to be prepared to do if you plan to represent yourself include:
- Entering an appropriate plea at arraignment: Should you plead guilty or not guilty? The answer depends upon the strength of the evidence against you. Even if you ARE guilty, you won’t necessarily be found guilty if the prosecutor cannot prove the case against you. If you do decide to plead guilty, it is advantageous to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor to perhaps minimize the penalties or reduce the charges you face.
- The pretrial process: It is during this time that you must submit motions to the court on issues that need to be decided before your case goes to a jury. Do you believe evidence was illegally obtained? Do you think the prosecutor has insufficient evidence and that the charges should be dropped? You will need to convince the court of this by making sound legal arguments.
- Preparing for trial: If you plead not guilty, you need to investigate the evidence against you and try to build a case. You may need to depose witnesses, and to review the breathalyzer or blood test evidence. Both breathalyzers and even blood tests can be called into question in some cases to undermine the strength of a prosecutor’s evidence.
- Presenting your case: You can raise affirmative defenses or you can simply try to call into question the prosecutor’s evidence. You will need to think carefully about what witnesses to call. Are there experts who can testify about problems with the evidence? Are you prepared to cross examine the police officer to try to weaken his testimony? Remember, the prosecutor has to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Can you introduce questions about your guilt into the mind of the jury?
These are just a few of the steps that you will need to take when defending yourself in a drunk driving case. These types of claims often require very specialized knowledge, including technical knowledge of breathalyzer devices.
You take a big risk when you defend yourself and the price could be thousands in fines and time spent in jail. The Law Offices of Steven E. Kellis can provide you with the help that you need so you don’t jeopardize your rights. You will be personally represented by Steve Kellis, and we will work to find a cost-effective approach to handling your case that allows you to protect yourself and get the most favorable outcome possible under the circumstances.
Steve Kellis has five years of experience as a DUI prosecutor as well as 25 years of jury trial experience. Our firm is focused exclusively on representing drunk driving clients and we will use our extensive knowledge of DUI cases to defend you. Call today to speak with an attorney and learn more about what we can do in your DUI defense case.