Once a judge has given the jury final instructions in a DUI / DWI case, the jurors are sent to deliberate. Once all 12 jurors reach an agreement, a verdict is delivered. Remember, the prosecutor has the burden of proving every element of the case beyond a reasonable doubt. If even one juror harbors any doubt about the defendant’s guilt, the case has been won. Retaining an experienced drunk driving criminal defense attorney gives a DUI defendant a fighting chance before a jury.
If all 12 jurors agree in the defendant’s innocence, a verdict of not guilty, or an acquittal, is returned. If all jurors agree in the defendant’s guilt, a guilty verdict is rendered. If the jury cannot agree on a verdict, there is a hung jury.
A hung jury is a good outcome for a drunk driving defendant. Prosecutors often opt to dismiss the case or offer a generous plea-bargain following a hung jury. Although the prosecutor can retry the case, he or she rarely wants to do so. If the prosecutor had difficulty the first time convincing 12 jurors of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, he or she might face the same obstacles in a second trial.
Once the jury has reached a verdict, the foreperson writes the decision on a verdict form and tells the bailiff that the deliberations have ended. The jury then reenters the courtroom. The judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, and in most cases the defendant also return to the courtroom. The judge will then ask the foreperson if the jury has reached a verdict.
If the answer is yes, the judge instructs the jury foreperson to hand the verdict form to the clerk. The clerk will then read the jury’s verdict aloud to the courtroom. Once the jury verdict has been read, the judge asks whether the verdict was correct.
If the verdict is guilty, the defense attorney may wish to “poll the jury”, which means that each individual juror must state their verdict aloud. This is done to ensure that the verdict was a truly unanimous opinion of all jury members.
Once the verdict has been read, the judge will thank the jurors for their service and will dismiss them. The attorneys and the judge will then discuss any further procedural matters necessary, such as setting a time for sentencing to occur if a guilty verdict is rendered.