Simply as a legal mater, you have an absolute right to testify at your DUI trial, but you cannot be compelled to by the prosecution. Strategically, however, whether you choose to or not is an important decision you need to make under advisement from an experienced Napa County DUI lawyer.
Downside of Testifying
The double-edged sword of testifying is that your direct testimony, in which you tell your story under the questioning of your lawyer, is followed by the district attorney's cross-examination. Anything you have said during direct effectively “opens the door” for the D.A. to further expand on. Additionally, any statements you may have made previously can be used to impeach your testimony if the substance is different or contradictory in any manner. Additionally, most people are understandably nervous if they are called on to testify and this can lead to faulty memories, confusion, and making mistakes in speaking. Most D.A.s will try and rattle you on the stand and get you to say something that will be detrimental to your case. You have to realize if you would make a good witness or would prove to be a liability.
The Benefits of Testifying
If your case is a typical DUI case, you may be the only witness who knows the whole story of what happened; did you consume alcohol? When? How much? Did you eat? Were you taking prescription medicine at the time? Any other relevant facts? Additionally, one primary topic of testimony at most DUI trials involves testimony of the arresting officer regarding your behavior prior to the arrest. Specifically, what observations were made regarding slurred speech, what statements were attributed to you are some examples. If you don't testify, the jury will be left with only the officer's testimony regarding these issues. Your testimony can offer a different perspective.
It is typically an unenviable position to be in if your testimony directly conflicts with the arresting officer's. Most juries tend to believe the police rather than the defendant. However, expert testimony may be beneficial in providing the jurors with a scientific reason why, for example, a breathalyzer reading reflected a higher BAC than was consistent with how much you said you had to drink. The jury needs a reason to believe the police may have erred.
Contact a Napa County DUI Lawyer for Legal Advice
Don't make the mistake of thinking an arrest for DUI needs to result in a guilty plea. Explore your options; call Blackie Burak, a Napa County DUI lawyer, at (925) 933-4500 .