Whether you’ve been to court before, taken a criminal justice class, or are a big fan of legal movies or crime dramas, at some point in your life, you have been introduced to the principle that all are presumed innocent of a crime until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The same principle applies in Virginia DUI cases. This raises two issues:
- What does Guilt Beyond a Reasonable Doubt mean, and
- How does the prosecutor meet this burden?
What is beyond a reasonable doubt?
To answer the first question, reasonable doubt is a term of art that is hard to pin down and everyone seems to have a different opinion. One way to think of it is that the prosecutor is required to “exclude every reasonable hypothesis of innocence.” Put another way, if there is any reasonable explanation as to your behavior that could be interpreted as you not being DUI, you should win.
Given that, how does the prosecutor prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt? Specifically, the prosecutor must prove you were “intoxicated.” To do this, the CA will try to show the evidence means that you were under the influence. The following questions are usually helpful in determining how the CA will attempt to prove you are guilty:
- Were you swerving inside your lane, outside your lane, or all over the road?
- Did you almost get into an accident?
- What did you do when the officer signaled you to pull to the side of the road?
The prosecutor will also point your behavior and physical appearance when the law enforcement officer approached you:
- Was your speech slurred?
- Were you able to understand and respond to questions?
- Did you admit to drinking or being under the influence?
- What kind of drinks did you have?
- Did you say you had been using some sort of drug?
- Did you appear disheveled?
- Where you able to reach for your license and registration without difficulty?
- If the officer made you get out of the vehicle, did you have any issues standing?
- How well did you perform on your field sobriety tests?
- If probable cause is an issue and you agreed to perform a preliminary breath test, what was the result?
How they will try to use your BAC.
Depending on the case, Virginia law also permits the use of your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) to prove guilt. As discussed before, Virginia law states that where your BAC is above a (.08), there’s an inference that you were intoxicated. Your BAC is likely one of the most compelling pieces of evidence that the CA can use to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The prosecutor has a lot of arguments that might be used as to why your BAC should be admitted at trial, but there are possible defenses. You have to figure out what to prepare for and how to respond. For example, for scientific evidence to be admissible, law enforcement must follow proper protocol in collecting and analyzing the evidence. The reliability of this type of evidence is always an issue. And therefore your attorney must scrutinize it to determine what defenses may be made.
More Questions about your Virginia DUI? Give Abrenio Law a call!
This is a short article about Virginia DUIs. Likely your case warrants a much more in depth discussion. If you have more questions review, give Abrenio Law a call at Ph. 703-570-4180. You can also learn more about Owner James Abrenio here!