If you have been charged with a DUI for the first time, you may be surprised when the prosecutors offer you a plea deal. This lets prosecutors avoid the effort and expense of going to trial. As a defendant, you should not rely on a prosecutor’s explanation or assume that he or she has your best interests in mind. Learn what you should expect with a plea deal.
How bargains work
Prosecutors often offer to allow you to plead to a lesser charge or a lower count than you faced originally. They may also propose a lower sentence. However, most deals do require you to plead guilty to some offense. Even though you do not go to trial, for most purposes a plea bargain counts the same as if a jury had convicted you. Depending on the charges, having this on your record can affect future employment, housing and educational prospects.
What to consider when thinking about taking a deal
The main benefit of a plea bargain typically includes a guaranteed result. If you do not have a strong case, pleading guilty to a lesser charge may be better than going to trial and potentially getting convicted of a greater charge and facing harsher penalties. Your attorney can evaluate your case and advise you accordingly.
Taking a plea can also mean giving up your right to appeal. Some bargains may contain waivers that raise ethical and legal issues, so just because prosecutors present you with a deal, it does not mean you must accept it. Your lawyer can negotiate to get a more advantageous bargain, identify problematic content or advise you to reject the deal and proceed to trial.
Facing the prospect of a courtroom can be scary, and a plea bargain may look appealing. However, with a strong defense attorney at your side, you may have a better case than you think.