Law & Legal & Attorney Criminal Law & procedure

How to Write a Persuasive Opening Statement in a DUI Case From a Defense Perspective

Have you ever heard the phrase, "you can only make a first impression once.
" This phrase not only applies in life, but also in DUI jury trials.
Even though by the opening statement a defense attorney has already interacted with the jury in voir dire or the jury selection process.
The opening statement is the first opportunity a defense attorney gets to discuss the facts of the case, and lay the groundwork for arguments later on.
Now the opening statement is supposed to be just that, a statement of the facts that the attorney is expected to be elicited at trial.
There is supposed to be no argument, no conclusions of law, or nothing that can be interpreted as argument.
But with a few simply tweaks the opening statement can become quite persuasive, and almost a second closing argument depending on how much the defense attorney can get away with.
Focus on defense orientated facts: Often times defense attorneys will just get up and regurgitate the police report, and then ask the jury to return a verdict of not guilty at the end of the case.
This is a mistake and often due to inexperience.
Rather than just repeat what the Prosecutor said focus on what the good facts are for the defense.
If the Prosecution doesn't have any scientific evidence state that, and how the lack of evidence demonstrates there is no evidence of impairment.
Attack the prosecutors facts: This can get a little tricky.
But one of the most persuasive things to do in the opening statement is address the Prosecutors facts head on, and discuss how they are inconsistent, or there are alternative explanation.
Now as I said before this can get a little tricky for two reasons.
First it can be seen as argumentative there you must be careful with how you phrase things.
Secondly it can tip the Prosecution off on what your defense is or what stance you will take on certain pieces of evidence.
Lastly say what you will prove and how: One of the things that can be most persuasive about the opening statement is saying why the Prosecutors case is weak and how.
This may come in the form of inconsistencies with the police report and the officer, or evidentiary issues that can be used to the defense advantage.
Overall writing a persuasive opening statement can really set the tone for a DUI trial.
Keep in mind that its impermissible to be argumentative, but if you carefully craft your wording and follow these tips its quite possible to phrase the opening very similar to the closing argument.
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