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HOW JURY INSTRUCTIONS CAN MAKE YOUR CASE
A DUI arrest and/or charge is a scary thing to have to face. San Diego is firm on its DUI punishments and so the best thing you can do is make sure you have a skilled criminal defense lawyer on your side. From the initial arrest to the trial and waiting for the jury to deliberate—each step is critical as well as nerve wrecking. This post will bring some much-needed attention to the specific step of jury instructions provided to the jury before they deliberate.
In U.S. law, a jury makes decisions in many civil and criminal trials. Considerable power is vested in this traditional body of ordinary men and women, who are charged with deciding matters of fact and delivering a verdict of guilt or innocence based on the evidence in a case. Jury instructions are the set of legal rules that jurors ought follow when deciding a case. Jury instructions are given to the jury by the jury instructor, who usually reads them aloud to the jury. They are the subject of much debate and discussion by attorneys on both sides in the case. The judge while delivering the jury instructions must ensure that the interests of the parties are represented and nothing prejudicial is delivered.
For defendants in criminal cases, the jury instructions can be a powerful tool in your criminal defense toolkit.
Why Are Jury Instructions So Important?
Jury instructions are important for several reasons, but two main reasons. The primary reason is they lay out the applicable law for jurors to follow. Without jury instructions, the jury would not know the elements of a DUI or Robbery charge. Jurors would not have the definition of “reasonable doubt”, or “constructive possession”, or any definition for that matter. They may forget who carries the burden in a criminal case and they certainly wouldn’t deliberate lesser-included offenses unless they were instructed on what the lesser-included offenses were. Juries would find it difficult to render a lawful verdict if they were not provided with jury instructions.
Second, they are important for record-keeping matters on appeal. If a Defendant is found guilty and wants to appeal a faulty jury instruction, he/she will need to show the appellate court the instruction read at trial. That is why jury instructions are typed and printed and placed in the court file. It is important for judges, when reading the jury instructions to the jury, to not stray or vary or “go off-script” to the agreed-upon instructions. (The two sides agreed to the instructions for a reason, right?)
How Are Jury Instructions Important to Criminal Defense Cases?
Because a skilled criminal defense attorney will know that the defendant is entitled upon request to an instruction relating particular facts to any legal issue. Such a requested instruction may relate the reasonable doubt standard for proof of guilt to particular elements of the crime charged or may pinpoint the crux of a defendant’s case. The court is under an “obligation to instruct on defenses . . . and on the relationship of these defenses to the elements of the charged offense . . . where . . . it appears that the defendant is relying on such a defense, . . . ” This is direct language from a California case (People v. Stewart). What this means is that the Court has a duty to instruct the jury, and a party has a right to instructions on his theory of the case, if defendant’s theory finds any support in the evidence or any inference which may be properly drawn from the evidence.
This allows the jury to make a sound decision in light of the evicdence and defense theories proposed by your criminal defnese attorney.
Don’t let this happen to you:
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charges carry with them the possibility of both jail time and the loss of driving privileges. As with any criminal case, a DUI defendant makes a major mistake if he attempts to make their way through the system without an aggressive criminal defense lawyer to stand up for their rights. Contact Monder Law today for a free San Diego DUI attorney initial consultation regarding your case. Vik Monder represents clients in throughout San Diego.