One of the most important issues in many Arizona DUI cases is the credibility of the witnesses who take the stand. While some cases involve only police officer witnesses, other times the defendant decides to testify in their own defense or presents a defense witness. When the testimony of two witnesses differs, the finder of fact (either the judge or the jury) must determine which witnesses’ testimony is more credible.
A recent opinion issued by the Arizona Court of Appeals is an example of a DUI case that came down to the credibility of the witnesses. In that case, the police received a call from a person explaining that a car had crashed into a home. The caller told police that they did not see the actual collision, but could hear it. They also relayed that there was an African American man on the scene wearing a white shirt, jeans, and a hoodie. There was no mention of anyone else in the car or at the scene.
Police officers arrived on the scene two minutes after the 911 call. Upon their arrival, officers saw the defendant, matching the description of the driver. Officers stopped the defendant, who dropped a set of car keys. The lock/unlock buttons on the car keys worked on the vehicle that was involved in the collision.
At trial, the defendant’s claim was that he was a passenger of the car and that the driver fled the scene immediately after the accident. The defendant testified on his own behalf and presented several witnesses. Another witness took the stand and, when asked who was driving the car, invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. A third witness testified that, on the day of the accident, the defendant had called her explaining that he was involved in an accident as a passenger, and that another man was driving.
Notwithstanding the defendant’s evidence, the jury convicted him of several DUI-related charges. The defendant filed an appeal. However, the Arizona Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction, noting that the jury was free to come to the conclusion it did based on the evidence presented.
This case highlights the importance of properly preparing witnesses to testify when developing a defense strategy. Police officers testify frequently, and many are quite skilled at presenting their side of the story in a convicting manner. To counter an officer’s testimony, a witness must come across as reliable and credible.
Have You Been Arrested for an Arizona DUI Offense?
If you were recently arrested and charged with an Arizona drunk driving offense, give Attorney James E. Novak a call to see how he can help. At the Law Offices of James E. Novak, Attorney Novak skillfully represents clients facing all types of DUI offenses, helping them develop effective defenses to the charges. With his help, you can rest assured that you, your case, and your future are in good hands. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation today, call the Law Offices of James E. Novak at 480-413-1499.