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Do I Have a Right to a Jury Trial in My OWI Case?

To put things simply, yes you do have a right to a jury trial in an OWI case. Should you take your chances with a jury trial? Well, that depends on a number of factors, and an experienced Des Moines OWI lawyer from our firm can help you decide the best path forward.

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When Would I Get a Jury Trial?

A few things will have to happen first before you end up at a jury trial. First, you obviously have to be charged with an OWI, or operating while intoxicated. Then a criminal case against you will proceed. There will be a preliminary hearing, the formal filing of charges, and an arraignment where you will be allowed to plead guilty or not guilty.

Then you can go to trial in front of a jury. Many cases end up being resolved before this step, but it might be advantageous for you to have your case tried in front of a jury. The prosecution needs to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. If even one member of the jury does not buy the state’s case against you, you could be found not guilty.

What Are the Risks of a Jury Trial?

The biggest risk of a jury trial for an OWI is that you will lose. The jury will buy the prosecution’s case and vote to convict you. This can open you up to some of the worst potential penalties for an OWI, including:

  • Fines of up to $1,250
  • A prison sentence lasting up to one year
  • The revocation of your license for up to 180 days
  • Mandatory enrollment in a substance abuse program

It is important to remember that these are the potential penalties for a first OWI. If you already have a criminal record or a history of OWI charges, the punishments can be even more severe. In cases like this, the risks of a jury trial could be even greater.

Do I Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer?

You can represent yourself, but we do not recommend it. An experienced criminal defense attorney from our firm can do a lot to assist you with your case and help you fight back against these charges. Your attorney can:

  • Speak on your behalf
  • Prepare you for testimony or depositions
  • Help you develop an affirmative defense against these charges
  • Evaluate plea offers
  • Advise you on the best actions to take

We would be happy to tell you more about what our law firm can do for you in this difficult time.

Consult an Experienced Attorney

If you are unsure about whether you should go to trial or accept a plea deal, talk to an attorney. At Herting Law, PLLC, we will take the time to evaluate your case and figure out your best option. You do not have to fight back against these charges on your own.

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