The Weight of Circumstantial Evidence in DUI Cases
In a court of law, the evidence presented would lead a jury to prove beyond a reasonable doubt of the commission of the crime. In DUI cases, evidence presented are of two kinds. Understanding the weight of the kinds of evidence is important in reaching judgments in DUI cases.
The first kind of evidence in DUI cases is called direct evidence. This kind of evidence is facts which can be observed directly by the human senses. These are the facts that can be seen, heard, smelled, tasted, touched and felt. An example of this is the observance of thunder and lightning in an overcast sky. An individual can see the overcast clouds, the streak of lightning, the momentary brightness and the loud booming of thunder. These facts would be evidence that thunder and lightning occurred at a particular time.
The second kind of evidence presented in DUI cases is called circumstantial evidence. This kind of evidence are those facts would help individuals be lead to inferences when appreciating them for evidentiary purposes. An example would be, using the thunder and lightning example previously done, would be the reports of other individuals observing the thunder and lightning that occurred, a power outage (due to the lightning strike) or puddles of water on the sidewalk afterwards. All these facts taken together would lead an individual to infer the occurrence of a thunder and lightning storm.
In the case of DUI felony trials, most of the evidence presented for appreciation is entirely circumstantial in nature. These include traffic violations observed by a police officers, the report on the breathalyzer and chemical tests conducted, the observations of the police officer during the arrest and others that were seen at the scene of the crime can lead individuals to the inference or presumption that a violation of the state’s DUI laws was committed.
The chemical tests conducted, using blood and urine are also circumstantial evidence. This would only prove that the individual’s state at the time of testing, not at the time of driving. This makes the time difference between the time of driving and time of testing critical to the viability of this kind of circumstantial evidence. What these tests seek to infer is the actual state of intoxication or influence at the time of driving of the individual.
In jury trials for DUI, the appreciation of circumstantial evidence is important. In the State of California, the jury is instructed that if two reasonable inferences can be reached from the evidence presented, with one leading to guilt while the other leading to innocence, then jury is instructed to accept only the evidence that leads to innocence. This is in consonance with the presumption of innocence that the Constitution upholds for every accused individual undergoing trial.
In order to be properly advised and guided on the steps towards facing this kind of legal problem, then call the DUI Attorneys of the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis for a free consultation today.