College Park First-Time DUI Defenses

If a College Park driver is facing a first time DUI, they will want to consult with a College Park first-time DUI lawyer, who can help them prepare a defense for their case. The attorney will use certain types of evidence to build the defense, and then will present it to the judge or jury trying the case.

Evidence for the Defense Against First-Time DUI Charges

The first evidence a lawyer will be looking at is the facts surrounding the DUI stop. Why did the officer stop the vehicle? If it was for speeding, do they have all the requisite information to show that they were operating the laser or radar properly, or that they were pacing the driver? What were they doing to obtain the reading to know that the driver was travelling faster than the posted speed limit?

At that point, if they can provide that information the lawyer will look at what the officer said, how he approached the vehicle, and what conversation took place. The attorney will also want to know if video and audio of the stop was taken as well. A lawyer will want to be able to compare the officer’s written report, and opinion of the driver’s performance, against the video evidence, if available. If the report varies from video evidence or it shows inconsistencies, it can play an important role in questioning the integrity of the officer and the accuracy of his observations.

How to Present This Evidence to a Judge or a Jury

A College Park driver, charged with a DUI for the first time, will have an opportunity to appear in the District Court and have their facts heard. In the District Court, cases are in front of a judge. There are no juries in the District Court. If driver would rather have a jury trial they can “pray a jury trial,” which means submitting a written or in-court request, asking that the matter be transferred to the Circuit Court and be heard before a jury and that the jury decide guilt or innocent.

In jury trials, all 12 jurors have to find the driver guilty, or all 12 jurors have to find the driver innocent. Anything in between is a hung jury, which means the State has the right to retry the driver’s case and the case may actually be retried a second time.

In front of a judge, an individual’s first court date in the District Court would actually be their trial date. The driver can present their evidence on that day in front of the judge. The judge will decide if they are guilty or innocent, and he also will rule on objections involving any questions.

Appealing a College Park District Court Decision

In District Court, the individual can immediately request an appeal if they do not agree with the findings of the judge. They will then be transferred to the Circuit Court for the appeal. Matters that go to the Circuit Court can be heard either as bench trial in front of a judge, or as a jury trial in front of jurors. The driver has an opportunity to work things out in Circuit Court in what is called a status conference hearing for offenses, from either an appeal or a jury trial. In Prince George’s County it will go to a status conference first and if it can be worked out there, that will be the individual’s final day in court. If it cannot be worked out and the driver is requesting a trial, they will be given a new trial date for which they will have to come back to court.