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DUI Plea Bargains
November 9, 2011
Christopher J. McCann
All it takes is one night’s lapse of judgment to be convicted of a DUI. Driving under the influence is a serious charge that can cost you your license, can incur serious fines, or can even lead to possible jail time.
One commonly used method of lessening the charges in a DUI or DWI case is a “plea bargain”. A plea bargain is essentially a “deal” made with the prosecutors in which you will enter a no contest or guilty plea in order to receive a lighter punishment. For example, a prosecutor might change a felony DUI charge to a misdemeanor. There are certain advantages that come with entering a plea bargain. Some of these advantages are:
- Efficiency and expedition of the trial process
- Less severe punishment for DUI or DWI
- Potential to have other lesser charges against you dropped
If you’ve been offered a plea bargain it is likely in your best interest to have your attorney look it over and consider if it’s the right choice for you. In cases where it’s unlikely for you to beat the DUI charges, a plea bargain may be your best choice. The type of bargain offered to you will depend upon your past offenses, if any.
You can get a favorable plea bargain if you employ a DUI attorney with a history of fighting cases and winning. If this attorney finds a potential “hole” in the state’s case, a good plea bargain may materialize. The best case scenario for you would be if the prosecution is willing to reduce the charges to a traffic infraction such as speeding, in which case you’d get off with traffic school and a fine.
However, the prosecution is able to put an “expiration date” on a plea bargain, meaning you only have a limited time to consider your options and either accept or deny the plea deal. There are no state defined expiration dates for a plea deal; they depend upon the time line the prosecution sets. Most of the time, the prosecution will use milestones such as the day before the trial or the last pretrial conference as their time line.
The obvious disadvantage of the plea bargain is that you’re pleading guilty without attempting to beat the charges. Prosecution will likely want to avoid trial in cases where you have a good DUI attorney. In addition, some of the other drawbacks of a plea deal include:
- The right to plea innocent
- The right to a trial by jury
- The right to appeal charges
- The right to have witnesses testify for you
It’s in your best interest to hire an attorney and have him advise you on the best course of action for your particular case. Each case is unique, as are the plea bargains offered. There are even some states, such as Oregon, in which plea bargains for DUI cases are prohibited. If you find yourself facing DUI/DWI charges, consult with your attorney and see if a plea bargain is the right option for you.
About the author: Christopher J. McCann is a respected and trusted Orange County DUI Lawyer that has made several thousand court appearances in federal, state, and juvenile courts through southern California. Christopher J. McCann is devoted to his clients and vigorously defends those accused of driving under the influence.
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