Criminal Defense in Orange County

Presenting the Theme of Your DUI Case

What is a "case theme" & why is it important?

A case theme is the basic argument of your defense. It is what you want jurors to believe is at the heart of your case. Your Orange County DUI defense lawyer's job is to make a compelling case that this is what your case is about and remind jurors of it throughout the trial. They will tell the jury that the issues related to this theme are the only ones relevant to the case. Furthermore, they will suggest that your DUI case lies on those issues and, therefore, your case can be won. This argument will need to be made from the very beginning of your trial—as early, in fact, as jury selection.

How effective your lawyer is at convincing jurors during the selection process will have a lot to do with the ultimate success of your case. It is often said that cases are won or lost during jury selection; thus, it is critical that your attorney establish a compelling case for your theme at this point. As an illustration of how your lawyer may introduce your case theme to prospective jurors, the following is based on a theme that a breathalyzer machine did not function properly. Your criminal defense lawyer would then pose the following questions to the juror panel:

  • What would you want to know about breathalyzer machines before submitting them to a test?
  • If you are selected to be a juror in this case, would you be open to hearing testimony about the flaws and malfunctions of these machines? Why or why not?
  • Do you feel that evidence of a malfunctioning breathalyzer machine should be weighed among the other evidence to determine the guilt or innocence of a defendant? Why or why not?

When your attorney asks jurors questions such as these, they tend to open up. From this, you can determine whether or not they will be receptive to the theme of your case.

How to Establish a Theme in Your DUI Case

In any criminal trial, the prosecution presents its case first. The prosecutor will give his or her opening statement first, present the first witnesses and evidence, and make the first closing argument. As a result, the prosecutor is able to set out their story and set the tone for the case prior to your legal counsel having an opportunity to make his or her opening statement. Nonetheless, this does not mean that they have to wait until closing arguments to present your story to the jury.

Since it is a known fact that a lot of jurors will begin to formulate their opinions about the case early on, your Orange County DUI attorney will begin to build a persuasive case theme long before the trial even starts and take advantage of every chance that they have to present that case theme throughout the trial, starting with jury selection. There are many defense lawyers who don't even try to adopt a theme, but they decide, instead, to attack everything in sight by arguing every possible theory.

These types of criminal defense attorneys challenge each and every factual issue, regardless of how vast the proof is or how insignificant the fact may be to the case. They vigorously cross-examine all witnesses, even the less significant ones. Additionally, they dispute every piece of evidence, even if it is not necessarily harmful to the defense, and they set forth a la carte arguments at closing, asking the jurors to choose what they believe to be sufficient to create reasonable doubt.

More experienced lawyers are well aware that this scattered approach is rarely effective. It is more effective to present a targeted attack on the issues that are important to your particular case, presented in the context of a persuasive case theme. Your attorney should steer clear of themes that are just a general referendum on drunk driving; instead, they should formulate a theme that is focused on the facts of your case and what happened on a specific day that you were charged.

If you have been charged with DUI in Orange County, contact The Law Office of Barney B. Gibbs today to schedule a free initial consultation!