Can I Win This at Trial, or Should I Take a Plea Bargain?
When facing a DUI charge, a defendant has two choices before him or her: take the matter to trial and see what the judge or jury has to say on the charges or accept a plea bargain, if one is offered by the prosecution.
How does one know what to do? Should the defendant take the matter to trial, or should he or she accept a plea?
Whether the defendant should accept the deal depends on multiple factors, and several items should be kept in mind before deciding what to do.
What Is the Plea Deal?
Plea deals can involve many types of “deals” offered by the prosecution.
However, most of them normally involve pleading guilty to a lesser offense other than the one on the charge.
Plea deals can also involve dismissing one of the charges the defendant is facing in exchange for pleading guilty to another charge.
The defendant can also agree to a sentence that involves a smaller fine or license suspension, especially in consideration for a DUI.
A Plea Bargain Can Happen at Any Stage
Keep in mind that a plea bargain can happen at any stage of the criminal proceedings.
Usually if a plea deal is going to be offered, discussions start pretty much at the beginning.
The plea discussion can be formal or informal. They can take place between attorneys, during pretrial or settlement conference, or even in the judge’s chamber.
A Plea Deal Involves a Compromise
If the prosecutor believes that he or she has a strong enough case to win in court, it is unlikely that the prosecutor will even offer the deal.
However, many different motivations bring the prosecutor to the decision to offer a plea deal.
These motivations can be to save court expenses or free up court calendar space, or they could involve kindness of heart. Regardless of the motivation, a plea is a compromise between the two parties.
Each one gives up something for the other. The defendant should not expect to walk away free and clear, but he or she will not face as dire circumstances as were possible before the plea was offered.
A Plea Is a Negotiation
The first offer does not have to be the final or only offer. The plea process is a negotiation.
This part is where it pays to have an attorney assisting the defendant in negotiating a decent plea. If the defendant’s attorney believes that he or she is not getting a fair deal, the attorney can go back to the prosecutor and see if any wiggle room can be made.
A defense attorney also has the benefit of knowing the law. He or she knows what burden the prosecutor carries in terms of proving his or her case.
If the attorney realizes that the prosecutor does not have much in terms of evidence or has weak evidence, this would be where that information can go towards negotiating a fairer deal.
What Evidence Does the Prosecution Have?
The prosecution has to prove his or her case before succeeding at trial. One important thing for a defendant to keep in mind is what evidence the prosecutor has to win his or her case.
They have to prove the elements needed for a DUI charge beyond a reasonable doubt. This standard of proof means that no other logical explanation can be taken from the facts of the case other than the fact that the defendant committed the crime.
This means if any holes exist in the prosecution’s argument or whether a question exists as to how the evidence was collected, such as faulty use of the BAC evidence or it was not obtained properly or legally.
It is important to speak with an attorney so that he or she can properly review the evidence from the case.
While it is possible for a defendant to represent himself or herself, an attorney has knowledge of the law and knows how to properly object to evidence presented by the prosecution, as well as presenting evidence in the defendant’s favor.
An attorney could also be able to prepare a plea deal to submit to the prosecution based on this knowledge.
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