Criminal Defense in Orange County

Cross-Examining the Arresting Officer in a DUI Trial

While all aspects of your defense are important, many DUI cases ultimately come down to the testimony of the defendant against the testimony of the arresting officer. Since the cross-examination of the arresting officer will be your attorney's only opportunity to challenge their testimony, it is absolutely vital he pulls no punches during this phase of the trial. Experienced lawyers will take this opportunity to highlight any holes in the officer's knowledge of the events using the police reports.

The officer will typically be quite familiar with most of the report, but your attorney can usually find some details in the report that the officer is not able to recollect. Another key strategy is to avoid chronological order when asking questions. Using chronological order allows the officer to see where the cross-examination is headed and allows him to mentally prepare for what he is about to be asked.

If your lawyer can catch the officer off balance, he may be able to get them to admit something that can compromise the prosecution's case. The arresting officer is often the prosecution's first witness, and at the conclusion of his cross-examination, the jury will have taken the first steps towards deciding on either a conviction or acquittal. This is just one of the many reasons you will need an experienced DUI defense lawyer on your side if you have been charged with drunk driving.

Topics for Police Cross-Examination

Experienced DUI defense attorneys in Orange County know that the arresting officer's testimony is often the most important part of the prosecution's case in any DUI trial. They must carefully choose cross-examination topics in order to effectively undermine the prosecution's case.

Field Sobriety Test Results
If you performed poorly on a field sobriety test, your attorney must address it in cross-examination. They can downplay poor performance. For example, if you stumbled while being asked to walk in a straight line, your lawyer might ask, "Did the defendant fall down? So he simply had a misstep?"

Blushing vs. Flushed Cheeks
If the officer cites flushed cheeks as evidence that you were intoxicated, your attorney should point it out to the jury if the officer blushes during cross-examination. This would demonstrate that there are other things that can cause a flushed face other than alcohol consumption.

Police Officer Bias
If there is the possibility that the officer might have ulterior motives in arresting you for DUI, your lawyer should call attention to them. Depending on the case and the status of the officer, it might be a good idea for your attorney to point out that the officer is getting overtime pay for testifying in court.

How to Make the Most of the Cross-Examination

Your Orange County DUI lawyer knows that effective cross-examination is one of the most important parts of any defense. Instead of attacking all aspects of the testimonies of the state's witnesses, an experienced attorney will have a well-planned strategy and ask questions that develop a specific case theme. An effective cross-examination garners concessions from the opposition's witness that help support the points that your attorney laid out in his opening statement. This connection should be stressed again during the closing argument, in case it was not immediately apparent to the jurors.

For example, let's assume that a client performed poorly on a field sobriety test, and your attorney wishes to discredit the test by pointing out the negative effect that nervousness can have on their performance. During jury selection, they will raise this issue to the jurors. During their opening statement, they will proffer the theory that the defendant performed poorly because of nervousness rather than inebriation. When it comes time to cross-examine the officer who administered the tests, they may ask if the police report stated that the defendant appeared nervous during the tests.

He will ask this, already knowing that this is true. Thus, this question would be meaningless without first establishing the previously mentioned groundwork. Every step of the trial process should be handled by a lawyer who is skilled in the art of case preparation, jury selection, and cross-examination – much like Attorney Barney Gibbs. For this reason, you should not hesitate to contact The Law Office of Barney B. Gibbs for a free case consultation if you were recently arrested for drunk driving. We have secured more than 1,100 case dismissals for past clients.