Can the District Attorney Use My DUI Prior Against Me At Trial?

The fact is that many good folks have had the unfortunate luck of having been charged with a DUI more than once in their lives.  This prior conviction can come back to haunt the accused in his new trial.  The District Attorney has alleged it in the new complaint to increase the punishment in the case.   The lawyer will not want the jury to know about the previous DUI conviction as the jury may be prejudiced against the defendant based soley on the fact he has done it before. What can be done?  A motion to bifurcate. One  Hermosa Beach DUI Attorney has opined that if a separate conviction is not stricken before the trial and the issue of its truth goes to trial, the defend the bifurcation of prior convictions is discretionary but should be granted when the defendant will be unduly prejudiced if bifurcation is not granted. The main legal situation in which denial of bifurcation would not result in prejudice is when the jury will learn of the prior conviction anyway. The unfair risk of Prejudice must always be balanced against any  reasonal probative value of the prior.  Factors that affect the potential for prejudice include the degree to which the prior DWI offense is similar to the charged offense, how recently the prior conviction occurred, and the relative seriousness or inflammatory nature of the prior drunk driving conviction as compared with the charged offense say many lawyers that practice in the field of law.  If it appears likely that admission of evidence of the DWI prior conviction would unduly prejudice the defendant, the law says the court should consider whether this potential for prejudice will be lessened for some reason, such as because evidence that the defendant has committed one or more uncharged criminal offenses will be admitted for purposes other than sentence enhancement. Cases where the defendant testifies and opens the door to the prior may be the case.  Indeed,  the risk of undue prejudice posed by the admission of evidence of a prior DUI conviction, considered against the minimal inconvenience generally caused by bifurcating the trial, frequently will militate in favor of granting the defendant’s timely request for bifurcation. Discretion always rests with the judge.  The court may conditionally grant the defendant’s bifurcation motion and reconsider this ruling at the close of the prosecution’s case in chief and again at the close of the defense case, in light of subsequent developments in the proceedings

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