Prosecuting DUI Cases
August 25, 2016 DUI Defense
When someone is convicted of driving while impaired or a related offense, the sentencing phase is very important. Determining what penalty someone should face for impaired driving can be complicated, especially if the offense involved both DUI and an accident. Very often, despite their conviction, defendants deserve a minimal penalty so they can move forward and make a meaningful contribution to society. Most drunk driving defendants are people who didn't mean to commit a crime and are otherwise good citizens for which a harsh prison sentence would not be helpful.
In many cases, even prosecutors agree that drunk driving cases are hard because so many defendants really are good people who by-and-large make good choices. That said, those who are arrested for drunk driving should talk with a Tallahassee drunk driving lawyer to get help making sure they approach their case strategically and argue for the lightest sentence possible.
Prosecutor Explains Challenges of DUI Cases
By way of example, the San Diego Tribune recently reported on a drunk driving case from a prosecutor's perspective. The particular case the prosecutor discussed involved a 22-year-old who caused a wrong-way car accident while he was intoxicated. The friends and family of the defendant described the defendant as “intelligent,” “virtuous” and “respectful.”
The prosecutor indicated that this is a frequent scenario in drunk driving cases where you are often dealing with “people who may have led virtuous lives and made good choices, but for the one time when things turned deadly.” The prosecutor has extensive experience with impaired driving cases, as she heads the DUI homicide unit for the District Attorney's office. She had pushed for the unit to be created and modeled after one in Orange County in order to make the handling of DUI-related fatality cases more streamlined throughout the area.
The unit has prosecuted many cases since it was created, with 21 people killed in the county in drug or alcohol-related impaired driving crashes in recent months. One of the issues that the prosecutors assigned to the unit grapple with is getting juries to understand that drunk driving deaths are not just accidents or acts of bad luck, but can sometimes be murder cases.
Prosecutors are the ones with the burden of convincing a jury that defendants were aware their decisions were dangerous to human life and if prosecutors do not meet their burden, the jury may not convict or a defendant may be found guilty of a lesser offense.
While prosecutors try to get these convictions, drunk driving defense lawyers help to fight for the rights of the accused. Whether this involves trying to get a not-guilty verdict or negotiating the most favorable plea deal possible, defense lawyers can never forget that a defendant's future hangs in the balance. Every defendant deserves the most vigorous defense possible and having a skilled defense attorney becomes ever more important in situations where the charge is not just for impaired driving but is a more serious charge because a collision happened.
A drunk driving lawyer can help defendants as they face the challenges of responding to charges, so give us call as soon as possible if you are accused of wrongdoing.