If you are charged with DUI (driving under the influence) in Colorado, you have numerous options. First, you may plead guilty as charged on your own, which will usually result in the harshest penalties; as such, this is not recommended. You may also hire an experienced DUI defense attorney who can plea bargain with the prosecutor to limit the charges and penalties you face. Finally, if you believe you were wrongfully arrested and charged, you have the right to take your DUI case to trial to fight the charges completely. Though no two cases are exactly the same, the following is a brief general overview of the DUI trial process in Colorado.
- First, you and your attorney will meet with the prosecutor and judge in the courtroom to discuss any last minute plea offers, to go over any evidence that may or may not be used in the trial, or any other preliminary matters.
- If you have requested a trial before a jury, there will be a juror selection process called “voir dire.” If your trial is in front of a judge—called a bench trial—this step will be skipped.
- The prosecution will present an opening statement to the judge or jury stating what they intend to prove throughout the trial. Your defense attorney then has the option to present their own opening statement at that time or wait until after the prosecutor has questioned witnesses.
- Next, the prosecutor will offer their case by presenting evidence. Evidence may include witness testimony or physical evidence such as forensic lab reports, test results, and more. Generally, the officer who arrested you on suspicion of DUI will testify during this part of the trial. Your attorney will have the opportunity to protect your rights and challenge any evidence by making objections and by cross-examining the prosecutor’s witnesses. The prosecutor will then “rest” their case.
- Your attorney will then present your case by giving an opening statement if he has not already and will present his own evidence in defense of your charges. The prosecutor can then challenge that evidence by cross-examining witnesses or making objections. Your attorney will then “rest.”
- Each attorney may present a closing statement summarizing the evidence and arguing why you should be found guilty or not guilty.
- The judge (or jury) will take time to decide and will return with a verdict of guilty or not guilty. In order to return a verdict of guilty, the judge or jury must find that the prosecution proved each element of your DUI charge beyond a reasonable doubt.
Deciding whether to plea bargain or to go to trial is an important decision in every DUI case and an experienced DUI defense attorney can help advise you on the best option in your particular situation. At the Tiftickjian Law Firm in Denver, we are dedicated to using every possible resource to stand up for your legal rights and fight wrongful DUI charges. If you are facing DUI or DWAI charges, do not hesitate to contact our office today for assistance.
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