If you have been charged with a DUI, the first order of business for your attorney will be getting the charges reduced. By necessity, if a reduction in your charges is going to happen, it will happen fairly early in the process. To do this, your attorney will gather up every shred of evidence such as police reports and footage from bodycams and dash cams and begin their deep-dive investigation into your case looking for mistakes and errors on the justice system’s part. Even a single misstep can be enough to convince a judge or the prosecution to reduce your charges, or ideally dismiss them altogether, saving you money and the headache of fighting DUI charges.
Another early step is to schedule an appeal hearing for your driver’s license suspension. In the state of Georgia, this step must be taken within 30 days of the initial arrest. Beyond simply preserving your ability to drive while facing any charges, this hearing can produce a wealth of opportunities for your attorney to build a defense. In addition to giving your attorney early access to all the evidence being brought against you, it provides them the opportunity to question your arresting officer under oath. With our successful track record at these kinds of hearings, it is a vital first step in getting your charges reduced.
Then, armed with the knowledge gained during the hearing, your attorney can begin pursuing every legal resource at their disposal, filing motions, having evidence excluded from a trial, and compelling the prosecution or judge to dismiss your charges based on the evidence they’ve found.
This set of legal maneuvers are called pre-trial motions. Filed at various pre-trial hearings, these are the methods your attorney will use to raise concerns about the admissibility of evidence, cast doubt on the methods of the arresting officers and build a solid defense.
1 – Motion to Suppress
This motion gives your attorney the ability to have certain pieces of evidence excluded from a trial. In order to file a motion to suppress, the attorney must show that there is a constitutional problem or a statutory defense to admissibility in the way a piece of evidence was obtained. This can include raising doubts about the effectiveness of the breathalyzer or if you are properly informed of your rights.
2 – Motion in Limine
Filed at the beginning of your trial, a motion in limine takes suppression a step further, asking a judge to set a limit on what the prosecution can use against you in a trial. If the judge grants this motion, any evidence collected by law enforcement that has been subject to it immediately becomes inadmissible. The prosecution can’t use it against you, and they are not even allowed to mention it during the trial. If a member of the prosecution or one of their witnesses does mention any of this evidence, they violate the judge’s order and trigger a mistrial.
3 – Brady Motion
A Brady motion requires the prosecution to disclose any evidence that would be of benefit to your defense. For example, if the prosecution holds back information in a video recording that helps prove your innocence.
4 – Motions to Dismiss
If your attorney finds evidence that your constitutionally protected rights to due process were violated in any way, they can file a motion to dismiss your case altogether. Generally, this motion is filed when evidence has been destroyed by the prosecution or the arresting officer. In order for a judge to approve this motion, your attorney will need to prove that the state acted in bad faith and destroyed evidence that would have exonerated you.
Destruction of evidence is just one reason your attorney may file a motion to dismiss. If they can show that the police did not follow legal protocols and procedures, your case could potentially be dismissed.
In addition to these motions, the option always remains to plead down to a lesser charge than a DUI, such as reckless driving. Under the terms of this plea bargain, you would plead guilty to these reduced charges and face a less severe set of consequences. Your attorney and the prosecution would negotiate these consequences, ranging from fines to driving school to community service, and you would keep a DUI off of your permanent criminal record.
Maybe the most important part of a successful plea bargain is convincing the prosecution that you are willing to take your case to trial if need be. And the prosecution knows that the court system is massively backlogged, a trial can be long and costly, and they don’t have the resources to see every DUI charge brought to trial. Your attorney’s job is to point out the flaws and weaknesses in their case against you and exploit those flaws and weaknesses for maximum results. Convincing a prosecution to abandon their attack on your freedom is what we do best, and we’re proud of our track record in settling cases before they go to trial. But if the prosecution doesn’t back down, we’ve shown time and time again that we can beat them in trial.
Every person charged with DUI is entitled to a trial, and there are two types of DUI trials in the state of Georgia. The first and most common is a jury trial, wherein 6-12 of your peers will hear evidence from the defense and the prosecution and decide accordingly. The second kind of trial is called a “bench trial” where a judge has the sole responsibility to render a decision.
But in the likely case that we choose a trial by jury, it is on the prosecution to prove the charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt. Essentially, we don’t have to prove your innocent, but they have to prove you’re guilty, or at least convince a jury of your guilt. If they can’t, the statute of “presumption of innocence” says that a jury must find you not guilty.
And odds are good, whether it’s a judge or a jury, that they will. Because the Claiborne Firm wins the majority of our trials by being better prepared. We will always try to have your charges reduced or dismissed prior to any trial. But if it comes to that, we come to trial with more information, better preparation, and a firmer grasp on the evidence at hand than the prosecution. Armed with these resources, we will tell your story and win back your freedom and dignity.
We dig deeper, we build that relationship with you, and when it comes to a trial we fight harder than the prosecution.
Don’t let a DUI ruin your life. There are countless ways to have a DUI reduced or dismissed. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with the Claiborne Firm.