If you are a client of the Barone Defense Firm then our first goal is to avoid trial altogether by obtaining a dismissal or reduced plea that is acceptable to you. However, we do handle many drunk driving trials each year, probably many more than other Grand Rapids DUI firms, and this is because sometimes trial cannot be avoided.
Once the decision has been made by you to go to trial, then you will have to decide if the case should be presented to a judge or jury. This decision, and the decision to go to trial, will ultimately be made by you, but we will be there to assist you in the process and to be sure you make the right decision. Regardless of whom the fact-finder may be (judge or jury) at the conclusion of the trial a decision is going to be made as to whether or not the government has proven its case against you. In other words, has the prosecutor proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you are in fact guilty of drunk driving?
Voir Dire – (Jury trial only) This is the part of the trial where the jurors who decide your case are selected from the larger panel of possible jurors. “Voir dire” means to “speak the truth” and the jury panel will be asked questions about their qualifications to sit and decide your case. Both the prosecutor and the defense attorney will have the opportunity to excuse a certain number of jurors for no reason stated, and an unlimited number for a specific cause. In a Michigan drunk driving case if it is a misdemeanor, then it will be decided by a panel of 6 jurors, whereas if it is a felony drunk driving it will be decided by a panel of 12. Once the jurors have been selected, the case moves on to opening statement.
Opening Statement – This is where the lawyers tell the fact-finder (judge or jury) what they think the evidence will prove. Arguments are not allowed during the opening statement.
Direct Examination – When a witness is first called the attorney that called him or her asks questions. These must be non-leading questions and the purpose is to allow the witness to state what they know about the case.
Cross-Examination – The attorney who did not call the witness gets to ask questions and this is called cross-examination. During cross-examination leading questions may be asked, and the purpose is to show that some or all of what the witness testified to on direct examination is exaggerated or simply not true.
Closing Argument – This is the summation of the case. The attorneys may discuss the evidence, the law, and may make arguments about how the facts, applied to the law, show that you are either guilty or not guilty (depending of course on who is making the argument).
Jury Instructions – The instructions are simply the applicable law that the fact-finder must follow in determining if the facts of the case, as applied to the law of drunk driving, prove that you are not guilty. The jury instructions in a Michigan drunk driving case will include legal definitions of things like “operation” and “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Verdict – After the jury has deliberated they will return to court and their verdict will be read.