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Reflections on last week's trial victory


After every trial, criminal defense attorneys reflect on what went well and what didn't.  They always want to improve their craft.  They want to improve on how to present the best possible defense for their clients.  Sometimes the lessons learned deal with jury selection.  Others might have to do with how craft an argument.  Still others involve how to relate to a jury.  The lesson that I learned from my "not guilty" verdict last week was simple...young district attorneys need more training with regard to when to actually take a case to trial.

In a Colorado DUI trial, one need not actually be driving in order to be prosecuted for driving under the influence.  If the vehicle isn't moving, the accused must be in "actual physical control" of the vehicle.  This control isn't actually defined in the law but a list of factors can be considered by the jury.  These factors include, but are not limited to, where the defendant is found in the car, where the keys are, whether the engine is running, where the car is parked, and the driver's intent to drive.  It is this last element that is often key to an actual physical control trial.  In my case, it took the jury an hour to reach the conclusion that the defendant never drove and had no future intent to drive.  It should've taken the prosecutor much less time to reach the same conclusion but they didn't.  This is why our criminal court system needs the defense attorney.