While assumptions can be ill-advised, it's pretty safe to say that you will probably be offered a plea bargain after your driving under the influence (DUI) charge. Plea bargains are a deal struck between a defendant (the person charged with the DUI) and the prosecutor's office. While plea bargains can be a very good thing, you should have the full complement of information about your case at your disposal before you agree to one. Read on to find out more about accepting a plea bargain for your DUI case.
No Trial, No Jury, No Problem
All those arrested are entitled to a trial, but a plea bargain is an agreement to plead guilty and give up that right. In exchange for forgoing the trial and being sentenced almost immediately, you are offered what you hope is a reduction in the severity of the charge and/or the sentence.
What Plea Bargains Consider
Each DUI is unique and your offer is likely based on a number of factors. Some of those factors include:
- Past offenses, particularly DUI offenses.
- The evidence available. This is the most important aspect of a plea deal. If the state has little or questionable evidence, it may not stand the scrutiny a trial would present. DUI evidence includes blood alcohol concentration (BAC) results, field sobriety testing results, dash cam, and body cam footage, etc.
- Court and jail overcrowding conditions.
What Plea Bargains Offer
It should be noted that you might end up getting a more favorable plea bargain just by having a private attorney represent you. Those without expert advice may be unaware of what is at stake and won't know anything about the state's case against them. Plea bargains offer defendants either a reduced sentence, a reduced charge, a reduced number of counts, and any—or all three of those things. Of those, the reduced charges is the most important since that is what will be going on your official criminal record. For example, a reckless driving offense looks a lot better than a DUI on your record.
Taking It to Court
Regardless of what is offered, the decision to accept a plea bargain is yours and yours alone. If you opt out of the deal, your case is scheduled for trial. You can expect to wait several weeks (if not months) for your turn in court. The upside of court is that, if you have a good case, you might end up entirely exonerated. If you lose, however, the punishment might be far harsher than that of a plea bargain.
Take the time to consult with your DUI attorney before you agree to a plea bargain.