An attorney establishes his credibility to the jury with his opening statement.
For this reason, it will be one of the most important parts of your
DUI defense, despite the fact that no evidence is presented and no arguments are made
during the statement. The opening statement will typically give the jury
an outline of the lawyer's case and explicitly state what they will
seek to prove. There are two general strategies for an opening statement.
They can either attack the prosecution's version of the events or
proffer an alternate theory of the events that could explain the evidence.
An opening statement is a lot like a promise made to the jurors, as it
sets their expectations about what the arguments will be and how well
his evidence can support it. An experienced lawyer will be very careful
as to how he characterizes his case in his opening statement, making sure
to avoid setting expectations that he cannot meet. If they claim that
they will offer an alternative version of the events in his opening statement
and delivers a strong case attacking the prosecution's evidence, the
jurors may still find in the prosecution's favor, because in their
eyes, the attorney failed to deliver.
Why Your Lawyer Will Avoid Making Promises
A good defense attorney will avoid making promises during the opening statement.
Your lawyer must be seen as credible by the jury, and if they make a promise
during the opening statement that is not followed-up on later, the jury
will lose credibility for your case. It is especially dangerous if they
think your attorney sought to deliberately deceive them or plant false
impressions in their minds.
Sometimes lawyers make promises because they assume certain facts will
come up on cross-examination, only to find out that those facts are never
developed. An experienced attorney knows never to assume what will happen
at trial. They should explain the facts, but they should also be careful
not to overstate what kind of evidence and testimony will be available.
Effective Strategies for the Opening Statement in a DUI Case
Despite what a judge may say to a jury about reserving judgment until the
entire case has been presented, jurors are human beings; as such, they
are very vulnerable to first impressions, which may be formed during the
opening statement. It has been said that opening statements are a road
map provided by the attorneys to guide the jury through the "journey"
of the trial.
Your Orange County criminal defense attorney understands the value of the
opening statement to create in the jury's mind two issues to consider:
(1) what actually occurred at the time of the incident in question, and
(2) a theme as to why the defendant should be found not guilty.
What actually occurred at the time of the incident?
A DUI arrest begins with the reason law enforcement stopped the defendant.
Typically, after the stop, the officer administers
field sobriety tests. Depending on the conclusions of these tests, the suspect may also have
to take chemical tests subsequent to arrest. Each procedure, at every
stage, is at issue and potentially valuable to your lawyer in providing
your best possible defense. The opening statement allows them to highlight
and thereby alert the jury what facts are relevant in your case.
A theme as to why the defendant should be found not guilty.
Clearly, the facts of the case, as presented in the case, are paramount
in a jury's decision. But again, jurors are human beings. The decision-making
process includes many factors. Your lawyer, well before trial begins,
conducts a detailed investigation into your case. Specific issues that
are relevant include:
- How and in what manner were you arrested?
- How did you feel during the arrest and when taken to jail?
- How did you explain this to family, friends, and your employer?
- Did you have an exact knowledge of what you may (or may not have) had to drink?
- Did you have an exact knowledge of the driving route you took when the
The key to an effective opening statement is the ability of your Orange
County DUI lawyer to convey your story to the jury. If you are facing
trial for drunk driving, do not hesitate to contact The Law Office of
Barney B. Gibbs for a
free initial consultation. We are available 24/7!