Why Are Some Cases Dismissed?


Cases can be dismissed for a number of reasons; although this has changed over the years so nowadays there are probably less reasons than there used to be. One of the most common reasons that has been around for many years is whether there is a legal reason to stop the vehicle that the person was driving.

Motion To Suppress Evidence

Procedurally, before the trial, we would have to file a motion to suppress, which would basically say that the stop was unconstitutional. Therefore, any evidence stemming from it should be suppressed.

There would then be a hearing where the officer would testify and conceivably other witnesses would also testify so that the judge could determine whether or not there was a legally justifiable reason to stop the vehicle. It would not take much to justify a stop but that would not be the point.

I do this in a lot of cases, because there would be no reason not to if the case was going to trial. It might end up being the one reason to possibly get a case dismissed since there was no basis to stop the vehicle in the first place.

Interferences With The Person’s Right To Counsel

The second one that has been a little more prominent in the last 10 to 15 years is interferences with the person’s right to counsel. In Arizona, although it is not a constitutional right, it is a right by a court rule that a person would be able to consult with an attorney as soon as feasible after they had been placed under arrest.

In the context of a DUI case, this means if that they said they wanted to talk to an attorney prior to being required to submit to the chemical test for breath or blood, they would have to be given an opportunity to call an attorney as long as it did not interfere with the police investigation.

If the officer said they could not call an attorney, or they did not actually give the person enough time to consult with an attorney, then that could be the basis to have the test results suppressed and then as a practical matter, get the case dismissed. This situation still happens quite regularly, and I like arguing those.
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Issues With The Testing Process

Sometimes, there might be a problem with their testing procedure, although this is now less common than it used to be 20 years ago. For example, we could argue there was a problem with the breath testing so we could try to have the test results suppressed before a trial. This scenario is much rarer than it used to be, but in some circumstances we could still make a motion to suppress the chemical test results.

The Attorney’s Personality, Experience And Approach To DUI Trials Can Help Clients

An attorney needs a certain personality for the way they handle trials, and it would have to be consistent with their personality to begin with. This means they should not try to portray a personality they could not really maintain while standing in front of jurors.

Some lawyers are able to pull off the attitude very well of being angry about their client being wrongfully charged and that the police officers were lying. That may work but only because that would be consistent with their natural personality. I personally do not think this attitude would be effective in the context of a DUI case.

My personality comes across as being a little ‘professorial;’ because of my appearance. I always wear a bowtie and black round glasses. From my appearance people get the impression that I am either a judge or that I have some authority. I do not do it because that is the image I am trying to project, I do it because that is the way I like to dress and look. I like bowties and round glasses and that is it.

I am not the kind of attorney who would go in and bang the table and argue about why my client is not guilty. I use a soft sell approach with the jury.

The Soft Sell Technique Works Best With Juries For DUI Cases

I try to use a soft sell by telling the jury about the high burden of proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt. I tell them there may be evidence that it was possible my client was guilty but that really doesn’t mean anything in the context of a criminal case; because the case would have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt and the issue would be whether there was a possibility the person was not guilty. I would tell them there would be a very high burden of proof but the evidence in this case just fell a little bit short of that. I think that trying to make that out would be a little easier with my personality because it would be constitutive of my personality.

In fact, I often end my closing arguments with a pitch by saying that the case is not about liking people driving under the influence or having disrespect for a city’s officers. It is that we have to measure the evidence by this very high standard of beyond a reasonable doubt, and the evidence presented just falls a little bit short.

I try this kind of argument because I think it is more consistent with my personality and my appearance as opposed to somebody coming in and banging on the table. I know several people who are very good at banging on the table; but it is just not me. Most of the important witnesses in a DUI case are police officers, so it would be a hard sell to convince the jury on a misdemeanor Driving Under the Influence that the police officer was a liar.

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