What if I Am Found Guilty of DUI by a Jury?

If the jury comes back with a verdict of guilty on one or more DUI charges, numerous issues arise. First, in a misdemeanor DUI-DWI jury trial, it is likely that you will be sentenced by the judge (or in some states, by the jury) at the same proceeding. Your DUI attorney may request that the judge “poll” the jurors so as to ask each of them if the verdict was his or her “individual” vote.

Also, your lawyer may consider the value of filing a motion of some type to request that the judge not accept the jury’s verdict, or to not make the judge’s verdict the judgment of the court. Also, a motion for a new trial may be sought or a motion in arrest of judgment, as facts may dictate.

Will I Be Sentenced Right Away?

If none of these post-trial motions are viable, your criminal lawyer may simply file a motion to ask the judge to delay imposition of the sentence imposed until an appeal (which may be simultaneously filed by your attorney) is ruled upon by an appellate court. Most states have defined rules on how, when and under what circumstances such a post-conviction motion or appeal will delay imposition of immediate jail time and other sentencing conditions.

Depending on the state in which you are convicted, a minimum sentence is typically set by statute regarding any sentence you could receive for a DUI-DWI conviction. A maximum sentence is also set by statute. The sentence handed down must fall between the minimum and maximum.

The minimum and maximum sentence for your state depends on whether this is your first DUI-DWI conviction. If not, the minimum and maximum sentences will likely be higher. The judge or jury often has some discretion.

The sentence you will receive for a DUI-DWI conviction will almost invariably include jail time, mandatory attendance of a DUI class, a fine, and a number of hours of community service. In the past decade, due to new legislation mandating tougher sentencing, alcohol and drug assessment and treatment, plus a possible ignition interlock device are also often part of a sentence.

Can I Appeal the Verdict?

Depending on what errors may have been committed during your drunk driving trial, your attorney may recommend asking for a new trial or appealing the guilty verdict to a higher court.

Although a motion for a new trial is rarely granted, if your attorney believes that his or her actions during trial may have constituted “ineffective assistance of counsel,” a motion for a new trial is likely to be required, filed and ruled upon before the issue of ineffectiveness is appealed. Otherwise, the issue of your attorney’s “ineffectiveness” may be waived (given up) on any appeal that asks for reversal based on that legal ground.