In our last two blog entries, we discussed how a Minnesota Felony DWI or Minnesota Gross Misdemeanor DWI progesses through the court system, including a first appearance or bail hearing, up through a contested omnibus or suppression hearing where you ask the Judge to throw out the evidence. In Part III of our series today, we examine what happens at an actual Minnesota Gross Misdemeanor DWI Jury Trial orMinnesota Felony DWI Trial
You have the right to be tried by a jury of your peers or a Judge. If you elect to proceed with a jury trial, a jury of 6 people (in a gross misdemeanor case) or 12 people (in a felony case) will determine whether the State can prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In order for you to be found guilty, the jury must ALL agree that the State has proven you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If even one juror believes that you are not guilty, then you cannot be convicted. You can also choose to have the Judge decide your case, which is called a Court Trial, commonly called a Bench Trial in other states.
At the trial, the State or prosecution will call witnesses to testify against you. You have the right to cross-examine these witnesses through your attorney. You also have the opportunity to object to any evidence the State is attempting to admit into evidence for the jury to consider.
You can also present witnesses to testify on your behalf. You may also elect to testify on your own behalf. You cannot be forced to testify at trial by either the State or the Court. At the end of trial, the Prosecutor will give a closing argument, and your attorney will also give a closing argument. In a Minnesota DWI jury trial, these closing arguments are presented orally in front of the jury in the courtroom. In a bench trial or court trial, however, the closing arguments are sometimes submitted to the Judge in writing. Ultimately, the Factfinder, either Judge or Jury, will find out either guilty or not guilty. Even if all the jurors think it is more likely than not that you are Guilty, the jury may still vote to Acquit you or find you not guilty because Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt is a very high standar, higher than “more likely than not” that something happened. If the State cannot meet this high standard, then the Jury must find you not guilty. This is why you need an experienced Minnesota DWI Jury Trial Attorney to represent you and protect your rights. In our next blog entery, we will discuss a number of Minnesota DWI Sentencing issues.