How Does a DUI Plea Bargain Work?
Once you have been arrested for a DUI or DWI, and if it is a felony DUI, you may have the possibility of making a DUI plea bargain. This will be an arrangement made between you and the prosecuting attorney.
What Is a DUI Plea Bargain?
A plea bargain always requires that there be a plea of “Guilty” made by you. There will be no exceptions. A plea bargain may be offered by the prosecuting attorney in the event of having weak evidence against you, or to try and speed up and close the case.
What Are the Advantages of a Plea Bargain?
A plea bargain may offer a couple of good things for the individual with the charges. For one thing, going through the legal process of a trial and not knowing how the verdict will come out can be difficult to endure because of the stress involved while going through it. It may involve a long wait. Plea bargains can speed up the process and make it very short, enabling the individual to move on with their life.
A second advantage is that the prosecuting attorney may be willing to reduce the charges to a lesser charge, or to reduce the sentence – or both. This can look very appealing, especially if the charges or penalty are apt to be severe if found guilty by a jury trial. An example where this could be desirable would be if there was a manslaughter charge involved while DUI. You may also be able to avoid having a DWI or DUI penalties put on your record, too.
Other charges may also be dropped. Judges have the final right, however, to decide whether or not a plea bargain will stand.
Are DUI Plea Bargains Legal in All States?
Plea bargains are not allowed in all states. For example, Oregon does not allow any plea bargaining in DUI cases. Other states may permit them only during certain stages of the legal process, but most states will allow them at any time.
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Why Are Plea Bargains Allowed?
The advantages of defendants in a plea bargaining case are obvious. Instead of a potentially much heavier penalty, they are given the opportunity to choose a lesser one if they will only plead “Guilty.” Prosecuting attorneys also benefit from it because they would rather spend their time, money, and expertise on more challenging cases – which also enables them to still claim a high conviction rate.
This process also enables the court system to not always be filled with new criminal cases that can last for months, or even years on end. The number of court cases is kept down by this process, which also reduces the overall costs that will be charged to the government. In addition, it can keep the prison population lower and more manageable. Defendants are also more apt to try and avoid further involvement with the law, because they realize that they only got by because of the mercy of the court.
When Should You Seek a DUI Plea Agreement?
Certain elements of the testimony against you will have stronger weight than others. For instance, the amount of alcohol in your blood will bear considerable strength against you if your blood alcohol level (BAC) was higher than 0.12%. It would be hard to convince a jury that you were in control in any way at that level. It is less likely that you will be found guilty if it is between .08 and .12%, but it still is a good possibility. In recent times, plea bargains are being offered less, especially in cases where the BAC is above .08%.
However, once your BAC drops below .08%, then there is a much better chance of a not being found guilty, when combined with a good defense attorney who cross-examines the expert witnesses. Even then, it is not easy to come away with a Not Guilty verdict in a DUI case.
Do You Need a Drunk Driving Lawyer In a DUI Plea Bargain Situation?
It is always a good idea to have an attorney on your side who knows the law in your area. If the prosecuting attorney offers a plea deal, your drunk driving attorney can possibly make it even better for you by asking for additional things that you would not have any leverage to ask for – and possibly no knowledge of, either.
Some prosecuting attorneys have preset guidelines on what kind of deal that they will offer early on in DUI cases. This will rarely be in your best interests to accept it, because with a DUI lawyer you could get a much better deal. This can help you even more to come out ahead.
This article was written by Jessica Stambaugh for Katz & Phillips, P.A. When Looking for an Orlando DUI Lawyer be sure to contact the firm of Katz & Phillips, P.A. for a free case evaluation.