Will You Need an Expert Witness in Your Case?
Defending a DUI today is very different than it was ten years ago, or even five years ago. Many clients realize that in today's world, having a DUI on your record can have real negative consequences for one's career, marriage or self-image - just to name a few. For those reasons, clients now are searching out and finding attorneys who have the experience and understand how to properly defend these complex, scientific cases.
The attorneys who truly dedicate their practice to beating the government's seemingly powerful scientific evidence also know that using the right experts at the right time can make or break a client's case. However, a proper analysis of the client's case is necessary to determine if an expert witness will even be necessary. Just because a DUI case involves complex scientific evidence, doesn't necessarily mean that a client must also hire an expert witness.
Many cases involving breath test, blood test and field sobriety test evidence can and have been won without ever consulting an expert. However, there is no question that the right expert at the right time can give a client's case the kind of edge and powerful leverage to ultimately make the case go away.
Experts are often asked by the attorney to analyze a case and submit a "written opinion letter." If the opinion is good for the client, the written opinion is usually given to the deputy district attorney in an attempt to convince the DA that this case is not worth their time at trial, and therefore a better plea deal should be considered. However, if the DA is not yet convinced that the expert testimony will damage their case, then the client may have to simply reject the DA's last plea deal and set the case for trial.
At trial, the defense attorney will introduce the expert's testimony into evidence and for the jury's consideration. If this happens, then the prosecution (district attorney) will usually have their own state or government expert ready to testify as a "rebuttal" witness.
Like anything else, experts come in all shapes, sizes, levels of expertise and cost. Therefore, in the early stages of the case (after the attorney has had a full opportunity to analyze all of the evidence) it is up to the attorney to provide the client with all possible expert options. This may seem overwhelming to the client, since they may have to consider whether or not they want to pay to have an expert from out of state, or use a local expert (if one exists). The attorney should also cover the possible costs of an expert. Most of the time, local experts will cost less - especially if a case goes to trial. And even less if the case can be won with only an opinion letter.
If you have just been arrested for a DUI, then give us a call. Chris will be happy to discuss how we can go about defending your case, and whether or not a expert can give you the edge you need to win.
Call us today at 303-456-1600.