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It can sometimes be hard to try to explain that a vehicle in and of itself is not a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, and that it would all depend on how it was being used. Using a vehicle as a vehicle, as a mode of transportation, would not be the same as using the vehicle as a weapon. The attorney would have to try to argue that what the prosecutor was alleging as recklessness or negligence, was not actually recklessness or negligence.
There would be a couple of different ways for the prosecutor to try to prove an aggravated assault by making sure that the jury understood what they were trying to prove and what they had alleged and that it would not be enough to simply be outraged that the incident had occurred, but to actually follow the law. Sometimes, jurors get emotional and want the person to be guilty of something and it would then be our job as defense lawyers to sometimes show the jury that although it was an emotional incident, they would still have to follow the law.
The court would require them to follow the law because they swore an oath to uphold the law. Sometimes during these trials, there is a lot of focus on the emotional side of things because pictures of dead bodies may be shown, or the victim may walk in with a cast on their leg. It would be very easy to sympathize with someone who was sitting there with a broken leg because someone was drinking and driving and then hit them, but the law is the law and jurors are tasked with following the law, not doing what they feel would be best based on sympathy or empathy.
This would really depend on the facts of the case. With misdemeanor DUIs, the issue would usually be whether the person was truly driving and whether they were in actual physical control of the vehicle and whether the prosecutor could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person was impaired to the slightest degree or was truly above a prescribed alcohol level or whether they had prescription or illegal drugs in their system and whether they were taking it as prescribed or whether it was truly even prescribed to them.
Talking about aggravated DUI would add two additional elements to the offense of the standard misdemeanor DUI. Those two additional elements would be that the prosecutor would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person’s license to drive or their privilege to drive had been suspended, revoked, canceled, refused, or restricted, and that the person knew or had reason to know that their license to drive was suspended, revoked, canceled, refused or restricted.
Usually, if an aggravated DUI case went to trial, the most common argument would be that the person truly did not know nor have reason to know that their license to drive was suspended, revoked, canceled, refused or restricted because that would be a required element.
There are usually other factors involved when talking about aggravated assault cases, vehicular manslaughter, or vehicular homicide cases. There would also be more arguing about whether the person was truly reckless as opposed to having impairment or whether there was the presence of alcohol. Fault would usually be an issue. Other factors would usually be more scientific by way of accident reconstruction factors than it would be about impairment and whether the person was driving, or whether the person knew or had reason to know there was an issue with their license.
We have access to and we do usually utilize experts in the field of accident reconstruction. These are people who can go out and do interviews, who could do scene measurements, who could review the police officers’ accident reconstructions, and determine whether or not they used the proper measurements and whether they used the proper calculations in coming to their conclusions.
Oftentimes, when dealing with these aggravated assault and vehicular manslaughter cases, our accident reconstructionist and our experts would come up with different ways of evaluating what the prosecutor’s experts said. This tends to come up most often when talking about speed estimations, and it would not be uncommon for a defense expert to be able to significantly lower the estimated speed that the state’s witnesses indicated took place. We would have access to those, and it is something that is normally utilized in aggravated assault or vehicular manslaughter cases.
Utilizing experts would usually come at an additional cost, which is one of the other reasons why Knapp counsel is such a great option, because rather than spending tens of thousands of dollars on a defense lawyer and then an additional thousands of dollars on experts, the client would be able to pay half the costs of the defense lawyer and then use the resources of a public defender’s office and their in-house experts to do the accident reconstruction and provide some of the investigative services.
For more information on DUI Defense Strategies, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (480) 442-8343 today.